Dungeon Defenders: Awakened just left Steam’s Early Access phase after entering it this past February. Time to dive in for some quick impressions.
When talking to people about the launch of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened, a lot of them commented that they had one or both of the first games in the franchise in their library. Some had gotten it as part of a bundle or giveaway, others remembered actively playing it, but everyone had the sense they had a decent player base and that it was a successful take on the tower defense genre.
Moving the franchise into 2020, Chromatic Games isn’t looking to drastically change what worked well before, but rather update their formula to today’s audiovisual standards while adding subtle nuances to the gameplay. We played a few rounds with two to three players at the time (ideally, you’ll play with four) and as a result of Chromatic’s approach it was very easy to pick up the core mechanics again since we had all played at least one of the first two games. It’s worth pointing out, however, that the least experienced player of the three felt like the tutorials could have been more detailed in explaining the game’s various mechanics.
A mix of tower defense, action RPG loot and combat systems and a touch of Dungeon Keeper, the Dungeon Defenders games certainly brought a unique blend of styles to the somewhat formulaic genre that tower defense had become. Awakened doesn’t appear to change the formula much, at least on the surface – applying a fresh lick of paint to a game we already played many years ago. The visual upgrade is excellent though, featuring a ton more detail and much improved animations while retaining a cartoon-like look and feel.
While the gameplay feels very familiar, it’s more fleshed out in some places yet feels trimmed in others. There are plenty of customization options (both in terms of gear and in terms of cosmetic options), yet the number of maps feels on the low end – especially because some of the maps are simply upgraded versions of maps from the first game. Nevertheless, the core gameplay is very solid, perhaps because it uses so many familiar elements.
The 1.0 release of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened feels a bit rushed though, as we encountered a few bugs and saw other players were seeing the same thing. The game’s reinvigorated our interest in the franchise though, so I’m sure we’ll head back in when we can get three or four players together again to go for a few more rounds.