We love a good genre mash-up, so the prospect of Dungeon Crawlers– replace a dungeon crawling RPG’s fast-paced action with tactical strategy– was extremely enticing to us. The biggest hurdle for such a mash-up is retaining the elements of dungeon crawling that make it so satisfying, like loot drops and randomization. Dungeon Crawlers doesn’t quite do this, but the gameplay is strong enough that it remains a good game.
Dungeon Crawlers’ story revolves around four heroes who are sent into a dungeon to clean out monsters. It’s a simple premise, but it’s backed up by pop-culture references and an eccentric cast. Each character has a unique personality based off of common tropes. For example, Failston is a brew-loving dwarf, and Payter is a bumbling warrior in search of women. The dialogue between the four characters is sure to make you chuckle.
Try talking your way out of this one.
As much as we liked the game’s personality, the most important part of Dungeon Crawlers is the gameplay. Each level is made up of rooms and corridors covered by fog. As you make your way through the level, the fog will clear and reveal whatever is beneath it, like enemies and treasure chests. When you run across an enemy, the game switches from free-roam mode, and your characters appear until all visible enemies are defeated. The third and final level of each of the four chapters is a boss battle. Each boss has to be killed in a unique way that requires you to figure out the solution for yourself.
Each of your characters plays a irreplaceable role in combat. Payter can take a lot of damage, Aegon deals heavy magic damage, Roy heals and buffs, and Failston can detect and disarm traps. Using each character’s special abilities strategically is crucial to overcoming the swarms of enemies. If any character dies in combat, you’re at a massive disadvantage for the rest of the level, as there’s no way to revive them. Fortunately, the game gives you the ability to restart the current encounter.
Mopping up the sludge.
Characters level up through experience and can equip one weapon and piece of armor, but the customization is little more than smoke and mirrors. Character stat improvements upon leveling are preset, and the loot is always found in predetermined locations. There is no choosing between different pieces of loot, because the latest piece you picked up for the character is always the best. Most loot is found in secret areas, so if you happen to miss one, you’re out of luck.
Randomized levels are a major part of the dungeon crawling genre, but Dungeon Crawlers is entirely pre-made. If you keep all of your characters alive, they’ll level up at predetermined times. Plus, enemies only drop useless gold, so you won’t get that amazing feeling from finding the perfect piece of loot.
Even though it misses a few opportunities, we still recommend picking up Dungeon Crawlers. It’s easy to jump into, challenging, and full of humor. Plus, there’s a boss named D. Knight Shyamalan. How great is that?