The dual-stick shooter genre has become extremely crowded, with top-notch titles that push the boundaries. This means that new entries have to bring something fresh to the table to succeed. Catacombs is a case where the developer’s intent was to do something original, but the result ends up feeling bare-bones.
Catacombs’ concept has all the makings of a great title. It takes the classic dungeon crawler formula and portrays it in an overhead view. Using dual-stick controls, you move a character through a 24-level catacomb infested with skeletons and spiders, collecting gold for a high score.
At the start of the game, you choose to play as one of three characters: a warrior, mage, or archer. The only thing that distinguishes the characters is their ‘special move’ that can be used to fight off large groups of enemies once it’s charged up. For example, the mage creates a chain that links between enemies and kills everything it hits, while the archer spins in a circle, rapidly shooting arrows. However, these slight differences were not enough to make us want to play through the game again.
These skeletons have a bone to pick with you.
Each level is basically the same: find keys to open doors and head to the spiral staircase. Repetitive objectives, environments, enemies, and weapons made the game quickly feel tiresome. There is a boss on the last level that shoots fire at you, but it was too little, too late to improve the grind-heavy experience. We would love to be able to use gold to buy upgrades, something that has been key to the success of other dungeon crawler titles.
After completing the game, 24 more levels set in a forest can be purchased for $0.99. However, these are pretty much the same deal, with the only additional enemy being orcs, which are simply reskins of the skeletons. We can’t recommend this add-on pack, as it offers no value, other than new graphics, to the game.
Catacombs isn’t necessarily a bad game, but it needs more meat on its bones before we can recommend a buy.