REVIEW: ‘Dungeon Defenders: Awakened,’ Still a Tad Bit Sleepy (PC)

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Dungeon Defenders: Awakened - title

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is a 3D third-person Tower Defense game developed and published by Chromatic Games for the PC, with console versions coming out later on this year. Though this is the third installment in the Dungeon Defenders franchise, the twist is that this game seems more like a remaster of the original game than a sequel or a prequel. You have the same mission on hand: protect the Etherian crystal from the baddies and move on to the next map and do the same thing. Personally, I have to say that the retelling is done well, however, I wish this were a sequel in which they would’ve taken Dungeon Defenders II and made new maps, a new story, and added new heroes.

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is currently in Steam’s Early Access with a Mostly Positive review rating. Dungeon Defenders: Awakened follows the same winning layout as the previous iterations of Dungeon Defenders but comes off a bit slower in terms of movement and action. Dungeon Defenders: Awakened still keeps its charm, just with high-end graphics. Your main objective is to prevent various enemies from destroying your crystal. You prevent that by the usage of traps across four different heroes: Apprentice, Squire, Huntress, and Monk. Each character has their own unique attack style, traps, roles, skills, and difficulty rating. 

The Squire is your trusty Tank, bolstering high HP and a sword to wail on foes that think of getting near you. The Apprentice wields a staff equipped with various magic skills to thwart foes. The Huntress, equipped with her trusty bow, uses various AOE traps to affect her foes and lock them down in place to deliver justice. The Monk focuses on more support skills but also comes equipped with power skills to take down foes quickly and efficiently. I do hope they follow in Dungeon Defenders II’s footsteps and have more heroes added in the future, because having just one melee class limits play diversity a bit.

Huntress gameplay

Dungeon Defender: Awakened is truly a cooperative game as it comes right out the gate with co-op in mind. It has both online drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, as well as local couch co-op. There’s also partial controller support, so if you don’t want to play with a mouse and keyboard, you have that option as well. However, do this game design the game feels really empty without others to play with, unless you simply enjoy the challenge of running solo.

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened has several difficulties allowing for even the most hardcore of players to be able to enjoy and challenge themselves. The game currently has three available modes of play: Campaign (the story which consists of 14 levels), Survival ( where players battle through waves of enemies while protecting their crystal), and Challenge Mode (which has players completing various trials to earn rewards), with two more modes, Mix Mode and Pure Strategy, coming soon that will shake up the way the series has classically been played. There’s also several difficulties to play on, as well as Hardcore mode for those masochistic enough to take on that version.

There is one system that has remained a core feature in the series, Hero swapping. This allows players to approach maps in various ways. Leveling up each hero is done separately which means you will have to level up each hero by playing them to unlock their skills, traps, and Rune points (experience tokens) to kit out your heroes on the battlefield. Players do have a new issue to address with leveling in Dungeon Defenders: Awakened as Rune Points are shared between your Hero and also their traps, so you will have to decide to either level up your hero or your hero’s traps. You do have the ability to respec at any time, which behooves new players who are still learning how the leveling system works. Players can also upgrade weapons, armor, and accessories, which requires gold. You earn gold via mission completions or by selling items you don’t need or want. 

Inventory

The level layouts in Dungeon Defender: Awakened is a combination of new maps and some old maps that have received some graphic upgrades. There are various ways to approach the maps with trap layouts, which is where strategy comes into play. This is because players have limits on their trap quota as well as a limit to how many crystals (units used to upgrade and repair traps) you can have on your person between rounds. This allows players to have to think about when to use their crystals.

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is truly a co-op game as the game doesn’t change to compensate for lack of players. Every map is made for four-player co-op, but the maps are also made to be able to solo if done properly. This would be my biggest gripe as of right now, it feels like the server is barren. Most rooms I created would be empty or if someone did drop-in they would place things randomly after a round and then drop-out leaving me to clean up the mess. I’ve played the original version of Dungeon Defenders, as well as the sequel, and with even one more person or even a full team, the game feels more “alive”. This iteration in the series does do the original justice, I just wish there were more people currently playing, as my Tavern is always empty of both NPCs and other players. 

Overall, I have to say Dungeon Defenders: Awakened has a lot of potential. I hope that when this game is released there will be a lot larger population of players making it easier to find and complete matches. Putting time into a co-op game when there’s not a lot of people playing it, is a bit daunting. 

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened comes out to Steam on May 28th for $29.99, with Nintendo Switch release date set for sometime Q2 2020, and Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases slated for Q3 2020.

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Overall, I have to say Dungeon Defenders: Awakened has a lot of potential. I hope that when this game is released there will be a lot larger population of players making it easier to find and complete matches. Putting time into a co-op game when there’s not a lot of people playing it, is a bit daunting.