Dungeon Defenders: First Wave App Review – A Frantic Mix of the Tower Defense and RPG Genres

Making the best game in all aspects considered before being bought is essential of developers. You’ll rarely ever see a really sloppy game up at the top, right? There always has to be some sort of “zing” for the game to be a successful one. Dungeon Defenders: First Wave has strong first impressions due to the Unreal Engine graphics at work, and it has serious potential, but the amazing artwork could be a bit misleading.

Being a blend of two of the app stores largest genres, Dungeon Defenders is the second application on the app store to take advantage of the Unreal Engine along with Infinity Blade. The bursting colors, and smooth frame rate are evident while playing along with the great character sprites. Though looking at the game in this way appeals to many, the other things that make a fun game, a fun game are somewhat missing.

The object of the game is to survive as long as you can from the constant waves of enemies that threaten your Eternia Crystal. You’ve got to build defensive units in the build phase, and then once ready proceed onto the combat phase where a steady stream of equipped monsters will enter the large dungeons in which you play in. Using a different variety of weapons that you collect as waves pass on, you must take down as many monsters as you can before they can get to your crystal and start attacking it. This building phase is pretty difficult to master as the view at which you see where you’re putting your units is extremely difficult to use efficiently. A better view would be one with a 2D aspect.

Like a regular RPG game, health, mana, leveling up and weapons are involved throughout the course of gameplay. When attacked by enemies’ weapons, your health bar will slowly decrease. If completely depleted you will die and eventually respawn. Mana is sort of a currency in the game as you use it to purchase, upgrade, and repair units and collect mana from killed enemies. Periodically a weapon will be dropped which can be picked up and equipped using the menu. When you level up, this is also where you’ll allocate points received to different categories such as your character’s strength. The menu would be easy to navigate if it wasn’t in portrait while you’re playing the game in landscape and if it wasn’t so cluttered.

Speaking of cluttered, the controls most definitely fall into that category. By itself, the d-pad to move the character isn’t so bad considering its responsive, but all of the controls including the buttons to access the menu are thrown on the bottom of the screen rather close to each other. Often you mean to press the attack button, but a menu pops up instead.

This core mode, does get a little bit boring after awhile as you’re doing the same things over and over again. There’s no real variety in terms gameplay, though in the beginning the game is very enjoyable. However, there is also a four player multiplayer mode where you can play the same way except online over wifi with other people. This mode does add some replay value to the game because collaborating with other people and working together does take some effort. But similarly, this mode can get boring with the gameplay and the constant burden of tolerating the regular lags.

As mentioned, the game runs on the Unreal Engine which has recently made its debut on the App Store previously with Infinity Blade. The artwork is truly great especially running lag-free with the smooth frame-rate. The dungeons/environments in which you play in are immense and are created with lots of detail involved. Along with those, the character sprites and the variety of the monster enemies you will face is really impressive. These high quality graphics are probably the high point of the game with no competitors whatsoever.

If the developers could rectify these issues, this game would a hands-down winner as it’s got all of the makings of a good game: amazing visuals, a multiplayer mode that many other games don’t have, and of course it’s a combination of two of the most widely enjoyed genres on the app store. For $2.99, it’s a contender for any last bit of money you have, but the app store has seen better.