What would a roguelike puzzle game look like? It’s an interesting question, and with genre-swapping iPhone games all over the App Store, it was bound to come up eventually. Dungeon Raid combines the permadeath of roguelike RPGs with the cascading tiles of a Match-3 puzzle game, and produces mixed results.
You begin each game of Dungeon Raid with a unique text introduction. For example, in one game you may be setting out on a vision quest, and in another you’ve accidentally opened an inter-dimensional portal. Either way, the results are the same: You must battle nameless, faceless monsters and survive for as long as possible.
Skull and bones.
In a typical Match-3 setup, you’re faced with a board full of icons. Instead of swapping them, though, you have to trace a line between at least three to make them disappear off the board. Potions restore your health, shields add to your defense, and gold lets you buy new items. You can also destroy enemies by tracing through skull icons, along with sword icons that increase your attack level.
As you play, you’ll build up meters for your shield, experience, and gold. When each of these reaches the maximum limit, you’ll be granted a choice of random powerups which will increase your stats. When the number of enemies outranks your ability to fight them off, it’s game over.
This simple premise is stretched a bit too thin. The icons on the board never change as you play, so you’ll stare at the same board for as long as you’re interested in the game. Your strategy won’t change much, either.
The biggest flaw, and what keeps Dungeon Raid from receiving a modest recommendation, is the lack of online high scores. Playing against your own scores can get old fast, and the grind of gold, monsters, and equipment need a social component to make it feel worthwhile.
Dungeon Raid is a worthwhile experiment in iPhone genre-crossing. With a few improvements, it could be a memorable one, too.