LifeisXbox’s Dungeon Defenders: Awakened review | C’mere dearie, for I have a tall tale to tell. It’s one that’s almost as old as time itself! There once was a game where the developers gave you the required tools to create your own game within a game. A wonderous thing this was, this much was true. And what was this game called, you may ask? It heralded under the wonderous name of “Warcraft III”. It spawned upon the gaming scene multiple genres and mods that went on to become their own fully-fledged game. Day of the Ancients was one such game, or more popularly known as “DOTA”. And while DOTA went on to become a huge success? A lesser-known mod was created as well. This was also the birthplace of a game called Tower Defence. There it remained until other game developers started seeing the popularity of this map because that was what they virtually were… maps, and started to create their own dedicated version of the Tower Defence map. When the mobile gaming scene also came into being, the Tower Defence genre really skyrocketed! And this now brings us to today. Chromatic Games brings us Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. A spiritual successor to Dungeon Defenders, you return to Etheria. But not everything is as it once was. Demons that were once captured? Are now freed and set loose upon your sacred land. While you, brave adventurer, are drained of all power. It is your task to regain this and re-capture every single ogre, imp, ghoul and goblin so peace is restored once more! Will you take this task upon yourself, or are these beautiful lands doomed for all eternity? Let’s find out in this review of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened!
We played Dungeon Defenders: Awakened5 hours on the Xbox Series X. This game is also available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 & 5 and PC.
What we liked!
- Absolutely beautiful | Honestly, truth be told people. I must commend the people who are behind the visual design of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. While the hues are kind of overly saturated, the rest truly looks spiffing! It welcomes the fact that it is basic. And it is that basic feeling that makes it feel totally refreshing. Why would you sink months and months into creating the best-looking game out there when you could keep it simple, cut the time of production and bring out a game that looks great and knows that it looks great?
Never did I see a popping or clipping issue surface, nor did I see jagged edges or the FPS drop below reasonable tolerances. It just works and that’s what will carry the rest of this review…
- Repetitive sound | It is as the bullet-point states. Repetitive sound & music. Constant loops, a sound effect library that mainly consists of the same kinds of grunts, whacks, and whops. And that’s it. Nothing to even remotely shake a stick at. Yay… Big hurray…
- Loot…, I guess?: Another one of these throw-away elements that they put in for posterity I guess. The reason why I am saying this is as follows. During your “adventure” through these forsaken lands, you’ll come across loot from the kills that you make. These items offer incremental buffs to your stats, but leaves it as such. Depending on what rarity your loot has, additional effects come into play as well. Poison, fire, …. But that’s it. Never was I ever excited when I found rarer items in the game because they just lack that “oomph”.
- Game modes: The campaign has no story …? | I was really hoping to find some story elements in an otherwise “RPG” themed game. But nope. No story here. The only story elements you’ll get are in the opening cinematic, and that’s it! There are other modes as well, but none really did capture my attention outside of the pure strategy mode. In this mode, you’ll get a pretty large resource pool to start your initial defenses with. You build your towers, and then let loose the hounds of war. After that? You’ll have to hope that your defenses hold, because you cannot fight back. Just like the regular tower defense games. I think that‘s what made this mode the most attractive out of all of them, in my opinion. Back to basic with a 3D element and that good old boots on the ground feel. I quite liked it, and I am debating if I should just keep on playing this game for just this mode only.
- Co-op mandatory (for an enjoyable experience) | While the game puts itself out there as a solo/co-op experience, you’ll quickly come to find out that the Solo portion of the game is as bland as dry toast. It’s not exciting and becomes a tedious chore of running around, smashing things beneath your boot. Rinse and repeat. Dungeon Defenders: Awakened really becomes a task if you’re playing on your own. While you may enjoy this for a short while, you’ll find yourself turning it off quicker than turning it back on again. That’s why I put it in the somewhere in-between part. Because it doesn’t break the game, but I was expecting a bit more enjoyable gameplay in the solo section.
What we disliked
- No tutorial | None. Zilch. Nada. There is nothing in this game that even gives you a glimpse of indication as to what to do or how to do certain things. It’s all trial and error, and for a game that is largely RPG-based, you would think that you’d get a quick hands-on tutorial. But not in this game. … Bullshit. You could argue that the previous games would teach you how to play, but looking at myself? I’m new to this series. So, please. Give me a quick tutorial! Because I do not know what all the visual cues are or what they mean. Sure, some are straightforward. But I do not know what each character‘s specials are or do. So give me a damn clue!
- Saturated color side-effects | As addressed in the what I liked part. I do have to quickly mention this. The fact that some levels really are overly saturated made me ill in real life. My very first play session caused me to get a migraine attack. I thought it maybe was my TV, so I tweaked some things here and there but to no avail. So please, if you are headache prone? Do not play this game for long sessions!
- Cheap port | I truly wonder how far they went with the quality control on this one. I know that this is supposed to be a port. And that things might be kind of ‘wonky’ is a PC port. But come on. At least try to give us something to work with! Because what I got to work with is just an absolute slap in the face, and truly feels like a quick cash grab! And here are the points as to why I feel that this is a quick cash grab!
- Text boxes and text are an absolute mess. The starting “please do not turn off your game” message is simply cut off. The font and size are just way too big for the box that it should be in, already giving it an amateur feeling. But it just doesn’t stop there. When you are in between levels you’ll see a countdown clock. These numbers just continuously change in size, and if you think that it finally stops there… There’s even more. Each time the size changes, the text that is in front of these numbers stretch and shrink to the size of the largest number. I mean… Come on!
- And while I’m on the subject of boxes. The victory/loss screen shows you two buttons to choose from. There is an actual selection box around the buttons! The same selection box that developers use to highlight a button that has a function. And you could argue that that would just be the intended effect because they use this everywhere. You know, as any professional and serious developer would do, right? Keep things the same everywhere. But it isn’t… It’s just on these screens, and on these screens alone. Already stapling home, the worthless port feeling.
- Port leftovers are another one of those nauseating things that cheap ports have. And wouldn’t you know it… Dungeon Defenders: Awakened has them too on that same victory/loss screen I noticed something weird in the top left corner. Something triangular. So, I took a closer look and to my horrification, I saw that this was a mouse cursor! And yes, while this game does support the mouse and keyboard. I wasn’t playing with these; I was just using my controller. Given that, I know that there are games out there that use a mouse cursor that can be controlled with your controller stick. But again, I wasn’t using that! Disgusting!
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