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Dungeon Defenders: First Wave


For:   Also on: AndroidiPhoneiPad
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Shackled

Product: Dungeon Defenders: First Wave | Developer: Trendy Entertainment | Format: Android | Genre: Tower defence | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (network) | File size: 396.0MB | Version: US
 
Dungeon Defenders: First Wave Android, thumbnail 1
Finding your way amidst a sea of buttons and countless menus in Dungeon Defenders: First Wave is a mild form of torture.

Beneath the mess of an interface and clunky controls lies an inventive, in-depth game that combines action, tower defence, and role-playing elements.

Developer Trendy Entertainment offers creative gameplay that never has a chance to shine due to a fundamentally misguided approach to iPhone and iPad. By prioritising depth and complexity over accessibility, Dungeon Defenders ends up a cumbersome, unpolished affair.

Creative potential

The core of the game is solid, it's the interface and controls that ruin the experience. Taking control of a young hero in training, you're tasked with defending powerful Eternia crystals from waves of baddies. Beating back waves of enemies is done by constructing defensive towers, as well as attacking foes in real-time.

In this way, the game combines the energy of a dungeon crawler with the tactical considerations of tower defence. As if that wasn't compelling enough, you're able to upgrade towers, your hero's stats and abilities, and even customise your equipment.

It's a remarkably creative mix that hits all the right notes in terms of rewards, customisation, and depth. Online cooperative play adds even further value, joining the lengthy single player campaign.

Cluttered and confused

Unfortunately, you're unlikely to be motivated to play online, let alone finish the campaign due to the game's cluttered interface and awkward controls.

Dungeon Defenders fails completely on both counts, employing counter-intuitive controls, a crowded heads-up display, and confusing series of menus. Take the camera controls, for example, Rather than allowing you to swipe anywhere on the screen to adjust the camera, you're forced to use an awkward set of arrows surrounding the mini-map.

Then there's the heads-up display. Far too much of the screen is covered in buttons, windows, and other elements that much of the action is obscured from view. Add in notifications that pop up during play and the screen becomes something of a collage. On iPad, the problem is no different. Rather than tailoring the interface to the larger screen, buttons and menus are simply bigger.

Menus are poorly designed too. Some appear in portrait mode, forcing you to shift your device from the default landscape view. Most menus are overloaded with options and accessing basic features like hero upgrades and the tower build menu requires too many button presses.

A matter of focus

While Dungeon Defenders is to be praised for delivering a game of such depth to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, its complexity is a source of weakness as much as it is a strength. Whether it's the interface or the huge number of things that can be upgraded and customised or ever the unnecessarily lengthy list of statistics posted at the end of every level, there's too much going on.

Trendy Entertainment would be better served focusing on a few features and polishing them to perfection rather than cramming everything under the sun for the sake of comprehensiveness. The promise of competitive online multiplayer in a future update, for example, is misguided. Instead of adding features, a complete redesign of the controls and interface is more likely to entice new players.

Dungeon Defenders does a good job cramming in features, but masters none of them.
 
Dungeon Defenders: First Wave
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 6 January 2011
Dungeon Defenders never gets the opportunity to show off its creative gameplay due to a poorly designed interface
 
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