Aug 10, 2011

Deadly Dungeons

Edit: It's been two weeks and it seems like ages since I last posted a review... I've been busy with paying the bills and a mini-vacation at Gen Con 2011. Still, I've decided to maintain a focus on writing 'real' reviews with some depth vs just trying to get new content up every day. I've also had a little help with the reviews, but am always looking for more. The perks? Review copies of games (as I have far more than I can handle) and your name in "print". Contact us if you're interested in helping out...

Deadly Dungeons is a review I've been working on for months. The developer provided a review copy several months ago and has since provided an update in response to some of the challenges I've had with the game... most notable being the difficulty, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Simply put, Deadly Dungeons is a 3D dungeon crawler much like some of the old PC (and Atari ST/Commodore Amiga) games like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder. It's missing the party system (although it does allow you to create your own character with a point allocation system) and provides some back story as to why your character has gotten into this predicament by himself. When you regain consciousness you are in the dungeon with escape being your sole objective.

Deadly Dungeons provides a smooth scrolling 3D perspective of your surroundings. You can also drag on the screen to look around. The game is 'cell' based meaning you and your monster 'friends' always occupy a given square on the map. The graphics are nice and smooth although there's not too much too look at in these musty old caverns other than approaching monsters and the treasures they leave behind. Audio is excellent with music appropriate for a dungeon crawl and the squeaks of rats just as they bite your legs.

The game offers four difficulty levels which is a somewhat recent update: Casual, Normal, Hardcore, and Nightmare. In casual mode you can wander around and have no fear of death. In normal mode you will die and have to load your last save game to resume play. In hardcore your save game will be deleted and it's time to start over. And in nightmare mode your Android's operating system is reflashed to the original Android 1.6 OS when you die making it incompatible with this game... yes, a joke... nightmare mode is actually the same as hardcore more with added difficulty. For me, normal mode presented more challenge than I could handle and I had to revert to casual mode for the bulk of my play. This game is Hard with a capital 'H' and those game mode are more reminiscient of a 3rd person shooter than a dungeon crawl.
The game's interface relies entirely on the touch screen. There are four movement arrows for moving forwards, backwards, and turning left/right. There are also four 'quick access' slots for things like healing and mana potions. You also have your icon to access your character's paper doll and adjust the weapons and armor that you are using.

One challenge I have with the game is picking stuff up. Usually I find myself having to do a machine gun barrage of finger taps on and around the object I want to grab. Early on that was very frustrating before I discovered my 'barrage' secret as I would tap and nothing would happen. With my barrage of finger taps and confidence that the 'treasure' really is there it's all good now.

The game also offers little in the way of 'help' to get going and thus that can be a slow process. Early on I'd keep getting knocked down and not really understand that I had to tap the screen repeatedly to get back up. There is a page on the game's website that offers some basic instructions for the game:

qrcodeI did eventually learn that I had to keep an eagle eye on the map in order to keep track of where I was going as everywhere pretty much looks the same in this rather drab cave. Clearly the monsters need some better carpeting, furniture, and fixtures to spruce up the place a bit. I also find that the game progresses rather slowly which isn't dissimilar from other 'rogue like' games. There is lots of repitition in the name of both character enhancement and finding that next great item. At $4.95 this is among the higher priced Android games. Fortunately there is a demo version for you to try before you buy.

My take on this is that it's an outstanding dungeon crawl game. It's quite immersive albeit a bit repetitive as are most dungeon crawls, and it's really the only game of this type I've found for Android (feel free to correct me if you know of another). The developer is also quite response and has continued to work to improve the game and I hope that continues as the foundation is here for greatness. As for me, I really like it and am half a star away from loving it. 4.5/5 stars.

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