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PAX East 2020: Dungeon Defenders: Awakened chromatic games

Ten years ago, gaming wasn’t so different from what it is today. Friends got together for multiplayer console games and LAN parties, computers offered the best graphics (but yours probably didn’t), and indie titles had an important role in the market’s ecosystem. One thing that has changed, however, is that Nintendo’s console is now getting recognition by companies from all over. The original Dungeon Defenders and its sequel understandably never saw release on the Wii or Wii U, as neither was truly equipped for a RAM-devouring PC game that required a decent internet connection. Chromatic Games is looking to change that, though, with the release of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened on Nintendo Switch later this year.

A perfect blend of genres

Funded by a successful Kickstarter, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is the latest game in a series that combines tower defense, RPG, and action adventure elements. You (and preferably a couple of friends) construct defenses to keep the enemy forces away from your crystals. Different classes have different types of things they can build — the Squire makes physical barriers while the wizard Apprentice builds magical towers. Once the round starts, you can go around and help defeat enemies or repair your character’s defenses. As you go on, you’ll get better equipment, more money, and new abilities. There’s a balance of strategy and improvisation in the series that I’ve only ever seen in tabletop RPGs.

Playing Dungeon Defenders: Awakened at PAX East, I am happy to report that the developers weren’t kidding when they said they wanted to bring this series into the modern day. DDA takes a ton of the special aspects from the original game — the unique blend of genres, the quirky characters, the sheer amount of love present in every detail — and smooths out the rough edges. It also does away with the freemium model that Dungeon Defenders II introduced. DDA will be a full game at launch, with optional DLC in the works.

Speaking of, I’ve been told to inform our readers that if there is a particular character from previous games they want to see as DLC, they should let the devs know over on Twitter. My personal favorite was Series EV, a robot character who was a cross between Mega Man and Samus, but there are other great options.

PAX East 2020: Dungeon Defenders: Awakened

All that said, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened isn’t a straight-up port or remake of the original. While it heavily borrows from the spirit of the first game, it has its own tricks up its sleeve. Revamped weapon and experience systems, enhanced UI, and shiny new graphics are nice, but what I’m excited about are the new features. Players will have a lot of control over their tavern, with decorations and sports functionality involving something called “Chicken Ball.” There are new maps and missions, new storylines, and new enemies and bosses to fight.

The developers built DDA from the ground up with Nintendo Switch in mind. That means playing on a game pad is better than it ever was in the old days. (I asked about using a USB mouse and keyboard, and they said while it’s not implemented right now, they’d consider it.) Additionally, having dozens to hundreds of enemies on the map will no longer set your rig on fire as the CPU struggles to handle each monster’s AI and particle effects. Finally, Guille, the rep who sat down and watched me fail miserably at the first map, was particularly excited about the fact that all the voice work was done by the staff. When I say the devs love the game, it’s apparent down to that little detail.

PAX East 2020: Dungeon Defenders: Awakened

Awakening to a new dawn

I have many great memories playing Dungeon Defenders back in 2010 with my friend group. So far, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is shaping up to be a worthy new entry in the series. I’m eager to play the final release of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened, optimized for Switch, and make some new memories with the guys.

[Disclosure: The article author backed Dungeon Defenders: Awakened on Kickstarter.]

Dominick Ashtear