Game review: Dungeon Defenders Awakened

A throwback to the golden days of their Xbox 360 success, can this recreate the magic and defend its core?

Discovering this series as a giveaway in the early days of free Xbox Gold games was a surprising bonus so great that even despite a very wobbly next generation of consoles it came at the right time to help convince me to stick with Xbox. Sadly, this title was never included in the backward compatibility so it was relegated to fond memories. It’s simple concept, story and fun art style made for an easy to get on with, but deceptively challenging arcade experience. The co-operative nature between the characters and the pacing between rounds made for a wonderfully unique multiplayer experience at the time, and still today. With enough time to be pulled into the excitement as the rounds build, there is always time to catch up and spend quality time with those you are playing with, a factor of online gaming sometimes overlooked.

For those new to Dungeon Defenders, you are tasked with the defence of a number of crystal cores from evil hordes that swell in number and difficulty. There is a selection of a few playable characters to choose from and features 4 player co-op. The blend of strategy and personal intervention makes for a dynamic and flowing experience, there is also much less waiting for rounds to play out than in other tower defence games. The cute look graphics, characters and baddies shows the emphasis is on fun and there is certainly a broad appeal for games in that category.

 

Unfortunately, despite a great pedigree, concept and art style there is a whole heap of issues. Advertised as an Xbox X/S release there are animation frame drops by design and a surprising number of bugs. The shop function which was in the original game was not finished in time for the re-release, the stats would reset constantly and loot comparison took us a good 15 minutes to figure out how to switch it on. On top of this, the multiplayer connection between games was patchy and inventory management would cause the game to crash or pause for long periods of time. For a game that is mostly a paint by numbers remake these failures are hard to explain. There are also balancing issues where difficulty spikes with no warning, leaving you with no realistic chance to respond. The latter kind of issues are perhaps more forgivable given the broad variation in how the game aims to challenge your character and strategy builds.

I look forward to the experience getting polished and most of the problems should be easy fixes. When the game is running normally it is still a great co-op experience. It caters perfectly for a chilled-out gaming session with friends to drop into and pick up without a great deal of effort. I love a game that offers straight forward challenges and as you can see from its achievement list, they are all linked to completing a level of difficulty in the game. I’m sure this involves a heavy grind but, in some ways, it can be seen like the gaming equivalent of a TV soap, long running and repetitive but somehow comforting and uniting.

 

 

 

 

Author: Joe, Bath store

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