Deathtrap was published and developed by NeocoreGames, the developer responsible for releasing the Diablo-like titles, The Incredible Adventures of Vanhelsing I & II, both of which were pretty warmly received and excelled at depicting a dark and tainted world. So it is no surprise that Deathtrap also does a good job at portraying a tainted and gothic environment.
Released on Feb. 4th 2015, Deathtrap is an action-RPG/tower-defense hybrid. If you’ve played Dungeon Defenders, you will be familiar with the concept. However, Deathtrap is darker, if somewhat less ambitious. Just because I’m not dubbing this a better game than Dungeon Defenders, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth playing. Deathtrap does benefit from somewhat updated graphics compared to the older title.
I played through the title with a friend over our LAN, and I don’t really recommend it as a single-player experience. I tried playing by myself at first, and it was okay, but not nearly as fun as co-op. My friend and I played once through the campaign on hard difficulty, and it took us about 12 hours to complete. During this play-through we repeated a few levels here and there to ensure we maxed out our rank for each stage.
Once a player beats the campaign, they may go through it again on tier-II. It will of course be more difficult and include more challenges. A player can replay the campaign through four tiers, but we only played through the first tier. I was willing to continue playing after the first tier, but my co-op buddy was not so eager.
There are three classes. I played a sorceress, as I tend to gravitate towards ranged characters with shiny particle effects. My co-op partner played the mercenary. There’s also a hunter, which I used as my solo character.
While these classes each play differently than the other, it’s hard to nail down a role or specialty for them. The mercenary plays as a beefy juggernaut and is easily the most powerful of the three. He has tons of HP, tons of Armor, and does tons of damage. He doesn’t move very quickly and is mostly limited to melee attacks, but he can single-handedly halt enemy progress when positioned at a choke point. Truth be told, I often called on my mercenary friend to save my lanes.
The sorceress has an ice bolt that can freeze smaller threats and slow larger ones, but her big hitter is a AOE lightning blast that punishes large groups of enemies, and when built appropriately, can also stun them. She’s very squishy at first, but after one builds up her teleportation skill, (which heals her whenever she blinks about the environment) she becomes much more resilient. I never felt quite as powerful as my mercenary friend, but I was still useful and still had fun.
The hunter spams ranged attacks along with some poison and AOEs and is an effective damage dealer, but probably even more vulnerable than the sorceress.
While there are only three classes, each class has a large host of unique and interesting skills that can be upgraded differently. Because of this, players with the same class may still maintain uniqueness or specialization.
Aside from classes and skills there are also lots of traps — plenty enough to keep things interesting. Though I must say, some traps seemed pretty terrible and useless. I think there is a need for balancing there. For example, there was an essence stealing trap that gives extra resources to a player, if enemies die near it, but it sucked for many reasons. First, it does no damage, so it’s already a bit of a sacrifice to even place. Second, trying to get enemies to die in a very specific portion of a map that usually has 3 to 9 spawn points just isn’t practical. Which brings us to the third reason it sucks: it rarely ever paid for itself.
Underpowered traps included most of the pet-summoning ones, as well as a trap that attempted to fling enemies off the edge of the map, but wouldn’t actually kill anything that players couldn’t easily kill themselves. Large monsters just jogged right over it, taking minimal damage.
Still, there were more useful traps than non-useful ones, and the synergies between them were often very entertaining. I focused on fire, ice and lightening traps, and my friend focused on mechanical, poison and summoning traps. Players build up their traps similar to how they build their characters. So it was beneficial for us each to specialize on our own thing and not have too much overlap.
My Phoenix Cannons battered and broke the enemy’s front ranks, and his slow-to-recharge but extremely deadly spike-traps provided a powerful last line of defense. For levels full of large enemies and bosses I used a crippling ice-ray to bring the big beasty to his knees, and my mercenary friend used saw-blade throwing traps, which ripped it to shreds while it was slowed. The whole ordeal often left us feeling clever and useful.
One small gripe about traps however… There were some aspects in which they could be upgraded that were just beyond useless. Using a precious skill point to reduce the cost of a trap from 100 to 98…? Pointless! I feel the developers should definitely take a second look at some of the traps and how they can be built up.
Add gear and crafting to the traps and skills, and Deathtrap feels pretty full-featured. There are many varieties of equipment with many different appearances. It was often beneficial to equip ourselves specifically for certain levels. On certain maps we benefit from stacking poison and lightening resistance, for example.
I finished playing this title about a week ago, and there were still many glitches and inefficiencies, most of which were just recently patched out, so I won’t bother going into the ones that were fixed, or weighing them against Deathtrap’s score. But there are still a few problems that remain… Gamepad support, ugh. It’s very wonky! It can be difficult to access things in your inventory, and some cursor-based skills do not work at all with a gamepad! I tried a mouse and keyboard for a while, but that’s just not my preferred method of doing things. So I ended worked around the gamepad issues. I imagine someone more comfortable with mouse and keyboard controls would not have many complaints though.
In co-op play the challenge is nearly perfect. You will occasionally lose or get a less than perfect rank, but afterwards you will notice clear strategies to victory. Having another player around just adds another layer of strategy and depth to the title.
Single player? I don’t really recommend playing Deathtrap for single player. It’s just not nearly as fun without others to coordinate with and the difficulty seems nearly doubled when by one’s self.
In the end, if you’re looking for something to play with friends or others online, this is a great choice for you. It also has lots of re-playability, thanks to the four-tier system and many areas to spend skill-points. By the time I finished Deathtrap on the first tier, I still had plenty of room for skill points and wasn’t even remotely near max-level. I’ll probably come back to tackle those other tiers at a later time. If you’ve got a buddy or two to play with, you should definitely give Deathtrap a try.
This game was purchased by me and played using an Xbox 360 game-pad.
Deathtrap is a fun co-op game, but fails to deliver in single player. Some skill and trap options are less than amazing, but overall they do pretty good. Gamepad support has some problems, but mouse and keyboard users shouldn't have any issues. Give it a try if you like playing with other people.