Since you’ve always wondered what the lovechild of Plants versus Zombies and Diablo would look like, now’s your chance to see the fruits of this union. Difficulty ratcheted up to Level 20 after the jump.

That Downtown Jimmy is quite the prankster. For the fifth straight time I’m here writing a review for a downloadable title both frighteningly difficult and with a learning curve to match. There’s a certain breed of folk hardy enough to deliberately and continuously brave these offerings, wave after wave. Likely the same individuals to whom Dark Souls’ 10,000 plus ways to die is 9,999 too few. We know who you are.

On the same token, I’ve discovered most of these difficult titles – if commitment and thick skin are developed in tandem – pay dividends. These fruits of development labour are the proud work of studios where longevity and replay value are first and foremost thoughts. Kudos to you, programming torturers.

Dungeon Defenders? You da’ man. This canyon deep, downloadable tower defence/action RPG hybrid is so complex, that there’s seemingly thousands of ways to tackle a single level. And all of said ways sport some seriously high difficulty…even on ‘Easy.’ Hard must be what playing hockey with a toothpick is like.

To explain, Dungeon Defenders offers several different character classes, all with unique skills and upgrade capabilities. First stage of each level involves setting traps, levelling up characters, and taking care of RPG odds and ends. Second stage is where the magic happens, actual combat where a controllable character must wipe out waves of baddies – with assistance from your traps – before they collectively destroy a gem at the center of the level.

Patience of a saint is required, as levels are spread across increasingly difficult stages…with no mid-stage save points. Complete ‘em all in one fell swoop, or be prepared to tackle it all over again. Minor plot hole: later level stages are friggin’ impossible even on aforementioned ‘Easy’ difficulty. At least characters level up with each level failure and/or quit to gently buoy subsequent attempts.

And failure, you will, declares multiplayer Yoda. This is a game custom-made for online, where those with more patience than you are thankfully levelled up to give a much-needed hand. Teamwork becomes essential, as monks can heal colleagues, wizards cast from afar. In contrast, single player mode is sadist to the max, with final stages in said levels near-impossible for solo characters lacking enough gear or mana to survive.

Still – and if you don’t mind getting knocked around a bit - Dungeon Defenders is very good at what it does. While complex, its system is not convoluted. You know why you died, flaws that could be addressed, also the depressing realization that a different character class – starting from Level 1 scratch – is better suited for a particular stage. Better yet, shanghai three buddies to give those demon bastards a what-for.

Warts are present. There’s the unfortunately irritating camera angles, ones persistently too close or far away to properly size up a level. Ditto menu selection for trap and/or character levelling up. Dungeon Defenders’ right stick is clearly intent on doing any and everything…except what you most need at that precise moment. As careful management of traps and party mechanics is survival essential, these two flaws are more obvious than they should be. A simple patch, however, could likely address both.

What is not flawed is presentation. Graphics are top notch, a terrific cel-shaded implementation of the Unreal Engine. Solid music and sound round out a high production value downloadable well beyond what $15 bucks should produce. It’s nice to see this more the norm than exception for recently released PSN offerings. Discrepancies between download and disc-based titles are growing smaller by the day.

If you’re looking for something different…and with a challenge level exceeding that of mere mortals…Dungeon Defenders is a robust, complex tower defence/RPG with your name on it. Better yet, grab three of your friends to stand a better and literal fighting chance.

  • Clever hybrid of two seemingly incompatible genres
  • High production values
  • Very deep engine and gameplay possibilities
  • Murderous difficulty
  • Learning curve to the nth degree
  • Not the best in single player
Quote: "Dungeon Defenders is a robust, complex tower defence/RPG with your name on it. Better yet, grab three of your friends to stand a better and literal fighting chance."
Reviewed by Paul Stuart | 10.24.11



Trendy Ent.

Trendy Ent.


US Release
October '11



Players 1-4
Online 2-4
3D Compatible