In the modern gaming climate, way too many games take themselves too seriously. Dungeons 4 on the other hand, is the complete opposite in that regard. It’s a game that celebrates tomfoolery and lollygagging. However, it does so while also having a pristinely polished core experience. Truly making the experience a grand one indeed. Let’s see what the game has to offer.
The Story & Campaign of Dungeons 4
The story of Dungeons 4 picks up right off where Dungeons 3 left off. The Abhorred Evil had completely subjugated the world… Well. About that. Turns out, the complete annihilation of everything good wasn’t as thorough as the Detested Evil had hoped. A single township filled with goodie two-shoes heroes still remained.
And that, my dear creatures of the night, was a big eyesore for the hateful Evil. So, the Ever Scheeming Evil sent out its top general, Thalya, to destroy good once and for all. Unbeknownst to them, however, the hero that had been giving them all that trouble was none other than Thalya’s own stepbrother, Tristan. The (not so) greatest of the remaining heroes.
What ensued was a battle of epic proportions. A matchup that the world had never seen before. Mountains cracked. Seas parted. Leprechauns started selling their pots-o-gold for stocks on Wall Street… Not really. I quickly kicked Tristan’s ass and went about with my day. Little did I know, however, that that wouldn’t be the last I’d be seeing of that miserable runt.
In reality, I’d spent the better part of Dungeons 4 hunting Tristan down. Hunting being the appropriate word, as the coward wouldn’t stop running (as well as giving the same drawn-out speech over and over again). Ahh well, at least the slaughter of innocent bystanders cooled my nerves down a bit. You can only torture so many Snotlings before it gets old.
It’s a Game That Doesn’t Take Itself Seriously
Dungeons 4 is a game that really doesn’t take itself seriously. It constantly breaks the 4th wall, references pop culture media, and even throws in a few easter eggs from other games too. Take for example the Totaly-Not-Infinity Gauntled in the above image. Tahlya “accidentally” uses it to snap the Revengeful Evil out of existence. You know. Completely accidentally.
The game is filled with jokes, slander, shade, and all manners of silly quips. Usually, I find that to be a red flag in games. In my experience, I’ve found that games usually use humor to hide their imperfections. And I’m happy that that isn’t the case with Dungeons 4. Even though the game likes to mess around, it actually has an impeccably polished core experience.
Plus, the humor isn’t contemporary, which is something that many games get wrong. What do I mean by this you may wonder. Take Borderlands for example. I love the Borderlands games to death, however, playing them now feels like a cringe-fest. The humor in those games was a product of its time, and admittedly, it was funny, in its time. Not in 2023.
Dungeons 4 gets away with its humor by being just cynical enough so that everyone can get a laugh. It plays on age-old tropes and references beloved media. The humor may not be for everyone, but I definitely got a few laughs out of it at least. And if nothing else, you can at least use the game as a drinking game. Take a shot every time you pick up on a reference.
The Gameplay is a Mix of Dungeon Defense & RTS
It’s always a tricky thing to combine genres, as you never know what will come out of it. You might get an amazing experience filled with captivating gameplay, or you’ll get a completely buggy mess that’s torture to play through. Thankfully, Dungeons 4 is the prior. It runs a fine balance between Dungeon Defender and RTS, not stepping too heavily in either one.
In the Dungeon Defender portion of the game, you get to kit out and build your dungeon however you want. As such, you have all the staples of Dungeon Defenders. Mining, building, resource management, defense, research, setting down traps, and so forth.
In the RTS portion of the game, you finally get to see the fruits of your dark labor. Unleash hordes of minions on your enemies, burn their camps to the ground, slaughter innocent civilians, detune all of their guitars, put raisins in their cookies, and do all the things befitting an Insidious Evil such as yourself.
Dungeons 4 Has a Lot of Mechanics
Even though Dungeons 4 has a lot of mechanics, they don’t feel that exhaustive. Especially if you play through the campaign first before hopping into Skirmishes. The first thing you’re introduced to is the different units and their upgrade paths. In short, you have your Dungeon upgrade path, Horde upgrade path, Demon upgrade path & Undead upgrade path.
The Dungeon upgrade path is used to upgrade your Snotlings and the different rooms within your dungeon. Horde units are great all-around units that can serve in a multitude of roles. Demons are great for rebuffing and causing fire damage to foes, they also respawn at altars. Undead are basically quantity over quality. Great for overwhelming your foes.
Magic is also a pretty big deal as it can be used to alter the course of the game drastically. But, before you can use magic, you must first find and dig out some Mana reserves. You must also invest a few levels into the Demon tree to unlock its rooms. Only then will you be able to use magic.
You can use it to create resources out of thin air. This allows you to damage and debuff enemies, and protect your units. Or, my personal favorite, summon a temporary Demon lord that will roll over and curb-stomp every enemy it encounters.
Co-Op is a Thing
Co-Op is also a thing in Dungeons 4. There really is nothing better than conquering the entire world with a buddy. Raiding and pillaging can be a lonely experience. Sometimes, even the screams of our victims aren’t enough to drown out the deep loneliness we feel inside our hearts. In those instances, a buddy can make a world of difference.
Skirmish mode is also a thing. The Campaign is good, but sometimes you just want to get into the chaos immediately. That’s where Skirmish mode comes in handy. It allows you to play with all the toys the game has at its disposal. No more units locked behind missions, no more arbitrary unit caps, and the only limits are the ones in your imagination.
Closing Remarks & Final Verdict
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing through Dungeons 4. It’s rare to see a game series have a string of great releases, and I’m glad that the Dungeons series is having just that. The game sets out to do three things, and it does those 3 things exceptionally well. It wants to offer you a Dungeon Defender experience, and an RTS experience, and to give you the occasional laugh.
The Dungeon Defender aspect feels great, and there are just enough mechanics underground to make each stage of your expansion feel entertaining. The RTS experience on the Overworld always has something new to offer and the challenges it throws your way are captivating and rewarding. And the humor, well, it’s just great. I have nothing bad to say about it. Here’s hoping it remains funny in the next 10 years, and I don’t end up eating my own words.