The industry goes through cycles, as we all know, and none can predict which way the tides might turn! By “none” I mean “anyone” because if all of a sudden potato-throwing games become popular on Twitch, you better believe EA’s going to throw together Potato-Throwing 2021 and load it up with microtransactions. Nintendo will probably follow in several years with a Pokemon-themed version. Anyway, tower defense games were a huge thing at one point, and Dungeon Defenders was one of the signature games from that era. Dungeon Defenders: Awakened (a remastered and refreshed take on the original, separate from Dungeon Defenders II) has made its way to the Switch if you want to relieve the good old days, preferably with some friends.
Dungeon Defenders was a classic from 2010, back when tower defense games were the hotness of the week. Awakened takes the game and does a little updating. You’ll choose from four heroes – the Squire, Huntress, Apprentice or Monk – and set up defenses to protect your crystal from invading hordes. (Hot take: if you’re playing solo, don’t pick the Monk. Sorry, Monk.)
The variety of defenses you’ve got and gear you have available tend to depend on your class. The Monk, as mentioned, has a little trouble because their “defenses” are more like buff totems intended for party play, but most classes have towers and such available. Along with this, you’ve got an array of weapons intended to assist your heroes with blasting baddies. It’ll take a combination of careful tower placement and proper control of your character to manage the giant swarms of enemies that are out for blood.
Your characters will find new equipment and level up as you go, earning access to new options and making each level a little bit easier over time. It all plays a bit like Orcs Must Die, so if you’re a fan of that series you’ll probably find Dungeon Defenders Awakened to be pleasing to the palate. There’s more of a Diablo feel here, though, as rather than an explicit set of gear as in Orcs Must Die, Dungeon Defenders thrives on randomized loot. Keep pulling the slot machine lever (slaughtering enemies) and you might win the jackpot (finding some better gear!) Your reptile brain is bound to love it.
Your reptile brain is also likely to love the co-op features that really make Dungeon Defenders shine. That Monk I said you might want to avoid? Yeah, that’s a different story when you’re playing with others. Get some pals together and coordinating your defenses becomes all kinds of fun. It’s clear that Dungeon Defenders: Awakened was really made for cooperative play. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.
Things you might also be missing out on: a game with the maximum possible performance, since we’re playing on the Switch and we know how that thing struggles. The little hybrid that could does its best, as it always does, but there’s plenty of jaggies to go around as expected. This was originally a somewhat older title, as expected, but it’s still rough to see the Switch playing it at what appears to be the lowest of the low settings.
Still, that’s the price we pay for portability. It’s not like the Steam Deck is out yet, after all! With that in mind, this is the best way to play Dungeon Defenders on the go so far. If you’ve been a fan of the series for years – which is entirely possible, given how far back these games go – then the Switch version of Dungeon Defenders: Awakened might be just what you’re after. Newcomers who can deal with some sharp edges here and there might find it a pleasing experience as well.