Dungeon crawling ain’t what it used to be, laddie! I did all the great dungeons in my day. I sacked Telengard, defeated Morgoth, even retrieved the Amulet of Yendor! Dungeons were tough back then, so what’s this I hear about Dungelot making them easy?
Well, if easy is what the kids want these days, Dungelot is hipper than a Floating Eye wearing sunglasses. Each level is a five-by-six grid of squares, and all you’ve got to do is tap your way through it. Exploring, opening chests, picking up treasure, fighting, it’s all just tap tap tap. In my day, we had command lines, and we liked it!
The thing is, though, all that tapping is satisfying. You start breezing through the levels, seeing all the sights and pausing only to decide which monster you’re slaying next. I’m not saying that I enjoyed this way of exploring, but that’s just because I’m crochety.
Whoever made this sure seems to love rogue-like games, too. The randomly generated levels, the way the traps start popping up all over and poisoning you, the way the game slowly whittles down your hit points until you’re praying to stumble across a healing heart symbol. This game may be easy to play, but every step deeper into the dungeon makes it harder to survive. It’s like Old Home Week here at the Old Adventurers’ Home!
And what about that permadeath? Sure, you may have some resurrection spell handy, but it’s game over when you’re dead! You can even loot your own corpse when your next hero gets back to the level where your last hero died! That’s the kind of game I can sink my dentures into!
Those developers have got some creativity, too. New kinds of monsters turn up every few levels, and some of your heroes are mighty adventurous. You start out with a paladin, then unlock more heroes the further down you go. You can play a vampire, a dwarf brewer, an assassin, or an alchemist, and each hero has a hatful of powers that you can upgrade between games. The powers work automatically, so you don’t have to control them, but you do have to change up your strategies to make the most of each hero’s abilities.
The unlockable heroes add variety, but don’t expect them to be any more powerful than your first guy. Their strengths and weaknesses make a difference in how they play, but you won’t necessarily get any further into the dungeon with the alchemist you unlocked at level 50.
There you go! That’s one thing I still don’t like about this new-fangled dungeon crawler! I don’t mind restarting when my hero dies — getting killed just makes me stronger! But I’m sick as tarnation of starting over at Level 1 every time. I know the game’s all about how far you can get, but even with randomization those early levels get repetitive. How about charging some hit points for a little elevator ride down to the 10th floor?
Not helping you down the stairs is a minor flaw, though. Dungenot does just about everything else right. It may be easy to play, but the monsters, hero powers, spells, and loot all interact in ways that give you interesting choices to make. Anyone can tap their way through a few levels, but you’ll need strategy and luck to keep going after that.
Dagnabbit! Looks like Dungenot is just as good as dungeon crawling was in the good old days. But at least I can still tell you all to turn down that music and get off my lawn!