Many big-name console and PC ports that have made their way to iOS, but Blizzard’s Diablo series was never one of them. That leaves a dungeon-sized void for others to fill, and in 2009 Gameloft introduced their own isometric action-RPG, Dungeon Hunter. The similarities were immediately apparent, but gamers didn’t care– they wanted a hack-and-slash game full of loot and exploration. Dungeon Hunter delivered that experience perfectly, most of the time.
The first Dungeon Hunter is a long, involved RPG with a great story and gameplay mechanics perfectly suited for a mobile device. You play as a formerly-dead prince, revived in a tomb to fight against a corrupted queen. During the nine-hour quest, you’ll have to battle undead enemies, explore optional routes, and collect loot to upgrade your gear. The skill system, which let you choose where to focus your strengths and abilities, makes Dungeon Hunter highly replayable. We even appreciate the way your character levels up at a steady pace. Four years later, Dungeon Hunter is still an iOS classic.
Key Quote: “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.”
Dungeon Hunter 2
Dungeon Hunter’s sequel improved on the original in nearly every way. Once again, you play as a prince trying to rid the world of darkness, but the story takes place a generation after the first game. Dungeon Hunter 2 added a new level of customization, as you could pick sub-classes in addition to regular classes, and specialize in new attacks or play styles. DH2 also included online co-op multiplayer, so you could take a friend with you on a monster hunt. With its improved graphics and gameplay, Dungeon Hunter 2 represents a high point for the series.
Key Quote: “Dungeon Hunter 2 provides exactly what fans will be looking for: more. The campaign is longer, there’s more gear to equip, more skills to master, more replayability thanks to the additional classes, and you can even play online.”
Dungeon Hunter 3
In Dungeon Hunter 3, Gameloft made a major misstep that soured a lot of fans on the entire series. Not only did DH3 adopt a freemium model, but it did away completely with the game’s storyline and exploration. Dungeon Hunter 3 was entirely an arena-based combat game, where you would have to survive waves of enemies while you leveled up your character. If DH3 had been called “Dungeon Hunter Arenas” or something similar, it would have been regarded as a mere spin-off, but calling it the third game led people to expect an experience similar to the first two games. Our review of DH3 was fairly negative as a result of Gameloft’s decision.
Key Quote: “While it has a ’3′ in its name, Dungeon Hunter 3 has almost no relation to its predecessors. While the first and second Dungeon Hunter games had lengthy stories and loot-driven dungeon crawling, this iteration scraps everything that made those games click in exchange for a wave-based arena hack-’n-slash.”
Dungeon Hunter 4
After the debacle of the third game, Dungeon Hunter 4 seemed like a return to form. It was still a freemium download, which upset those players who insist on owning the game outright and not having to pay for health packs, but the narrative and exploration were finally brought back. The graphics greatly improved over the years, similar to Gameloft’s Modern Combat series, but there was no escaping the constant request for in-app purchases. While we were playing DH4, we felt that the difficulty had been artificially ramped up to force users to spend real money– a far cry from the well-paced challenge we cited in our review of the first game.
Key Quote: “Dungeon Hunter 4 looks great and plays well, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that you’re getting royally ripped off courtesy of the game’s aggressive pitches for in-app purchases.”
Tomorrow, we’ll pull on our cleats for a look at Gamevil’s long-running sports-action series, Baseball Superstars.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.