Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is a tower defence game, with RPG elements. It takes place in a magical medieval world with ghouls and goblins to defeat. You can play solo or with teammates as you progress through a variety of levels, while upgrading your gear and stats.
At the title screen there’s a cute 2D animated sequences with a moving comic book feel, that will introduce you to the characters and story of the game. The 3D graphics in the game also reflect the bright colours of a comic, with a nice blend between a cel-shaded style and smooth textures.
When you jump in, the tutorial is fairly short and goes over the basic controls of the game and the phases. If you are familiar with the previous Dungeon Defenders games, you can get straight into the game fairly soon. However, if this is your first time playing a game from this series, the HUD is very informative and all abilities are clearly labelled with their corresponding keys. There are 4 classes to choose from (Huntress, Monk, Squire and Apprentice). I chose the Apprentice, the magic class.
Gameplay basically goes between Build Phases and Combat Phases. In the Build Phase you can place your defensive items, equip new armour and upgrade your skills. What I really like about the skill system is that you can experiment and aren’t locked into your choices. You can simply press the minus button to take the points back and allocate them to another stat.
The Combat Phase is where the action happens, monsters will spawn from various doors around the arena. As you can’t be in all places at once, it’s important to have set up your defences in the previous phase on each path that leads to your Crystal. You can run around the arena to battle enemies as they try to attack your defences, but you must protect your Crystal as destruction of this will end with you defeated. You can also place more defences in the combat phase if you have enough to purchase them. Combat is fairly straightforward and depending on which character you chose, you will have different abilities.
When you have beaten all the waves, you will go the Summary Phase where you can review your collected XP and money, as well as the time it took to beat. After you have beaten Stage 1 you can go back to The Tavern. There’s some target dummies in here that you can try out your abilities on with a handy DPS counter, so you can mix and match your weapons, armour and stats to see what works best outside of actual combat. When you have the inventory open, the game will recommend better armour, marked by a green thumbs up. In the early stages of the game you aren’t able to buy anything from the NPC’s in The Tavern. But it’s worth it to start picking up items and selling them so you have money for later on.
Once you are ready to continue on to Stage 2, a few features will now be unlocked. Such as difficulty where you can change to Easy if you are still trying to learn the game, or to go for something more challenging if you are a Dungeon Defenders veteran. At this point multiplayer also opens online play and other players will be able to join your games.
Picking up armour in game is a little annoying as you need to be the right distance/angle from the item and then press ‘E’. I’m a lazy gamer, so I turned on Auto-Loot, which you can find in the Options Menu under Gameplay. However, it doesn’t seem to activate right away and didn’t work the way I expected it to, only seeming to loot items when I advance phases, rather than when you run your character over them. The need to be overly precise with the looting is probably the only gripe I have with the game.
Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is a pretty solid game. The hybrid between tower defence and action RPG works quite well and I’d recommend it to fans of both these genres. The gameplay is fun and difficulty is scalable to your skill level, making it flexible for solo or multiplayer play.