Dungeon Hunter


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Game of the Month, September 2009: Dungeon Hunter

Well, looks like Gameloft pulled it off again. Last month we were blown away by the epic open-world crime game Gangstar and this month we fell for the Diablo-esque isometric action RPG Dungeon Hunter.

September was another great month for gaming, with Hybrid: Eternal Whisper, iBlast Moki, and Gameloft’s other stylish clone Modern Combat: Sandstorm all greatly impressing us. However, Dungeon Hunter stood out in the end. Not even a glitch (now fixed) that broke the game in its initial release could diminsh our enjoyment of this game. As Assistant Editor Tim Rattray explains:

“Dungeon Hunter is a Diablo clone that is stronger than most original efforts on the App Store. Beyond the detailed graphics and smooth controls is a deep hack-and-slash RPG with talent trees, upgradable stats, and random loot drops. Three available classes (Warrior, Mage, and Rogue) add extended replay value to an already lengthy title. Also, Gameloft took the time to balance levels so that grinding is not necessary. Overall, Dungeon Hunter stands out as the best effort by Gameloft to date.”

Tim’s review of Dungeon Hunter will be on the site soon, but we felt it was important to recognize Dungeon Hunter even as we put the finishing touches on our review. (Update: read the review here)

Our runner-up for Game of the Month is also a clone, but a very good one. Meteor Blitz contains some of the best two-stick shooter action on the iPhone, with tight controls that let you pull off precise maneuvers and rock-busting boosts.

Little touches, like the way the game pauses automatically when you take your fingers off the screen, and the way your high score ranking updates in real time as you play, make this an absolute Must Have game.

Congratulations to Gameloft and Alley Labs for their excellent games. What will next month bring?

More stories on Dungeon Hunter

Reviews

Dungeon Hunter Review

Exceptional games like Dungeon Hunter don’t come along often. While other Gameloft clones such as Gangstar and Modern Combat: Sandstorm were great, we are the first to admit both would be ridiculed on other, more mature platforms. This is not the case with Dungeon Hunter, which may not quite be Diablo, but is still a stunning game nonetheless.

The story in Dungeon Hunter is quite generic, but works. You play as the late (now revived) prince of Gothicus, who must team up with elemental fairies as he fights his way through his once-happy kingdom to defeat his corrupted queen. Along the way, many of her cohorts aim to send you back to the catacombs you came from. This goes on for at least a good nine hours, including side quests and adventuring off the beaten path (not all areas have straightforward routes). Dialogue is pretty standard fare for a mobile RPG, but at least Gameloft did away with sub-par voiceovers.

At its core, Dungeon Hunter is a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler in the vein of Diablo. Each area is chock-full of aggressive enemies to smack with your weapon of choice. Other than a normal attack, you can use special abilities and the power of your equipped fairy. Each of the fairies brings different strengths. Some attack foes in a wide area, while others may slow or weaken them.

The intense action is about to start…

Graphically, there is a lot going on. The attention to detail in every character model and their animations is quite realistic, as much as you could say for a fantasy world at least. Even with such excellent 3D rendering, there are hardly any frame rate drops. Also, the game’s controls are great, and you can customize them to your liking with different action button configurations, d-pad or analog stick, and so on.

Your hero can be one of three different classes: warrior, rogue, and mage. Each plays differently as well. For example, mages cast spells from a distance but take more damage when hit, while warriors focus on brute strength. Rogues are more agile and usually use two weapons. There are multiple save files, so you can always try out a new class if your current one gets boring.

The class you choose ties in with the deep upgrade system, comprised of attribute points and a talent tree. Every time you level up, you are awarded two points to put into your general stats and one talent point. Different classes get more benefits out of different attributes, and spreading points between active and passive talents is the key to success.

The chandelier hangs menacingly in the foreground.

Weapons, armor, and potions can be bought from merchants in questing hubs, but the more valuable items are usually dropped by mobs in dungeons. These come in multiple color-coded classes, depending on how many bonus attributes the item has. There are also story items, including your crown and a few other valuables.

If your bag is full, there are two options: transmute an item on the spot for less gold than it’s worth, or head out of the area and meet up with the local merchant. Luckily, every section of an area you enter can be accessed on the main map, making it quick to move around from area to area on the fly.

One of Dungeon Hunter’s strongest points is the balanced gameplay. While it’s ultimately not too difficult to beat, you level at a constant pace, which takes away the need to grind. The obvious effort Gameloft put into this really shines through.

A minor gripe we had with the game was that walls and other objects occasionally obstruct your view. You may be running underneath a tree or on the other side of a wall, and it will be like swinging a sword in the dark. However, it doesn’t hold back the game very much at all.

We recommend you buy Dungeon Hunter, as it is head and shoulders above the competition. For so much gameplay and attention to detail, we would gladly pay a premium price for this quality title.

Previews

Dungeon Hunter Hands-On and Video

The first thing we learned about Dungeon Hunter, the upcoming RPG from Gameloft, is that “it’s a Diablo game.” Please, say no more! Ok, say a little more.

Diablo, the hackiest of the hack-and-slash RPG epics, had dozens of hours of gameplay, intensely deep customization, and addictive loot-gathering. When it comes out, Dungeon Hunter may have a dozen hours of gameplay, moderately deep customization, and loot of some kind. The degree to which it becomes utterly addicting remains to be seen.

While a comparison to Diablo is appropriate, we thought this game looked a lot like Hero of Sparta with RPG elements. Like Hero of Sparta, your character in Dungeon Hunter has one attack button, but in Dungeon Hunter you can also fire off magical spells when your mana meter has enough juice. The three different character types, Knight, Rogue, and Mage, all start out with different magical attacks and basic weapons. You can also select different fairies with elemental affinities to help you fight off enemies.

When the game begins, your character snaps awake’¦ in his tomb. You’ve been brought back to life for a higher purpose: to gain experience points and collect a bunch of gold. Actually, we didn’t get too involved in the plot on this first play-through. We were too eager to get into the hacky-slashy.

The controls are simple enough. You can move using an analog stick, and attack or interact with buttons on the right side of the screen. In the immediate vicinity of your tomb, you’ll find a chest filled with gold, which pops out and flies onto the ground in a very familiar fashion.

Within seconds of waking up, your hero is confronted by a gang of skeleton warriors, who we handily beat after a few seconds of button mashing. Unlike in an action game like Hero of Sparta, not every hit will cause damage to enemies’” it depends on your level and stats. Tapping the health bar at the top opens your character menu, where you can put on new gear (which doesn’t change your appearance, it seems, just your stats) and spend ability points.

In these first few minutes in the catacombs, your character meets another warrior who will fight the skeletons with you. This potential for story-based assistance made us hopeful, but Dungeon Hunter doesn’t give you the ability to pay for companions to help you with quests, like in similar RPGs on the PC.

After beating the skeletons and a few larger baddies, we emerged into the blinding sunlight just long enough to look at an expansive overworld map, explore a nearby village, talk to the village elder’¦ and then head back into the catacombs for our first paid quest.

Dungeon Hunter is a Diablo clone, all right, and it looks much, much better than other attempts to recapture the same magic on iPhone. If the full storyline, variety of quests, and unique locations are as good as the brief experience we had in our hands-on time, this could definitely be a winner. We know Gameloft can nail the surface aspects of a game, like the concept, graphics, and animation, but we still don’t know if Dungeon Hunter will have the depth to make it truly worthy of comparison to Diablo.

News

Debut Trailer for Dungeon Hunter

A trailer for the just-announced Dungeon Hunter by Gameloft has hit the net. Check it out on the next page.

While this is a teaser trailer, with background story only and absolutely no gameplay footage, more information about Dungeon Hunter should be coming soon. In fact, we’ll be playing it ourselves, and will give you our hands-on impressions as soon as next week.