Last week, during GDC (Game Developers Conference) I had a great virtual conversation with Augi Lye, CEO of Chromatic Games (Gainesville, FL). The team at Chromatic Games created the popular Tower Defense series Dungeon Defenders. The series includes Dungeon Defenders, Dungeon Defenders II, and Dungeon Defenders: Awakened.
During our chat, I got a little preview of what Chromatic Games has been working on (in top secret). A brand new game in the Dungeon Defenders universe, but in a different genre. For the first time in the series they’ve decided to try a new genre — a roguelike. Dungeon Defenders: Going Rogue is a brand new roguelike, and it just shadow dropped today (3.29.2022) on Steam in Early Access.
I had briefly heard of the Dungeon Defenders series of games before, but had no previous experience with gameplay. Last week, in order to get ready for this shadow drop, I had the chance to play two of the previous titles in the series, Dungeon Defenders II (PC) and Dungeon Defenders: Awakened (Nintendo Switch).
It’s great that Dungeon Defenders made its way onto the Nintendo Switch with Dungeon Defenders: Awakened, but I quickly learned that I much preferred playing these games on PC, with a mouse and keyboard (and that’s usually not the case for me). Even though Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is the newer release of the two, Dungeon Defenders II on PC just ran much smoother — and I have an old PC.
As of this morning, Dungeon Defenders: Going Rogue is now on PC (via Steam Early Access). The current goal for Early Access is to continue working on the game, while listening to player feedback. Augi told me about the community behind Dungeon Defenders and how much they love these games. After a couple of releases under their belt, it’s nice to have built a strong community that can provide valuable feedback.
I asked Augi why they were abandoning the Tower Defense model for this franchise, and why a Roguelike? For one, Chromatic Games was previously overseen by investors, but the studio recently went back to being independent. This gives them the freedom to take more risks, rather than try to recreate that same formula that has worked for previous games.
Another reason they switched genres is being inspired by many recent roguelikes (games like Hades and Risk of Rain). The team must have pictured these mechanics within the Dungeon Defenders universe and thought it was a good idea.
New Game, Same World
For fans of previous Dungeon Defenders titles, this game does play a little different, while still feeling familiar. I would classify Dungeon Defenders: Going Rogue as more of a “Rogue-Defense-like” game.
There are still two phases within each match: set up and defend. In previous Dungeon Defenders games, players would spend their money setting up as many hazards, tourettes and other traps as they could to take out the oncoming hordes of enemies. The set up phase is much shorter in Going Rogue, you now collect your reward and try to set up one or two traps. Instead of spending money on all of the traps, actions are now timed (like a MOBA).
*Side Quest: Speaking of MOBAs. I have tons of friends who are into games like League of Legends and Dota 2. I’ve always wanted to get better at them to hang with my friends, but I just don’t have the patience. Whenever I play them I think this would be cool if it was just taking out bots and creeps (I think they’re called creeps), without any real human competition. Dungeon Defenders: Going Rogue sort of reminds me of what that would feel like, in third-person view.
In each level, it is your job to defend the core as enemy waves come in to break it down. After surviving a wave you gain some new items, items that last for that run. Dungeon Defenders: Going Rogue features four familiar heroes, and I was told there would be more in the future.
These games all offer online multiplayer for up to four players. I didn’t have a chance to try it out, but I can picture this being so much more fun with friends. I had a good time playing by myself, but I just thought of moments when waves were coming from multiple angles and how nice it would be to have one, two or even three partners helping you out.
I only had the time to play a couple of matches so far, but I did get to watch Augi play through a boss fight which looked challenging and exciting. It did seem like it would be much better to take down a boss with friends though.
For fans of the previous Dungeon Defenders Tower Defense games, I did notice many Tower Defense elements still present in the game. I like that they kept everything very familiar. It’s always nice to see familiar games translated into new genres. I’ve had a great time with Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon so far, but this isn’t as dramatic a shift as that was from the original Shovel Knight games.
As with any Early Access title, it’s always great to get in early and see how the game evolves up until its full release. I’ve been tracking a few Early Access games as they continue to change, and I’m excited to add this one to my list.
Dungeon Defenders: Going Rogue is available now on Steam Early Access for $14.99
Get it for 15% off until April 5, $12.74
*myVGBC.com was provided a preview code by the publisher.