Sometimes a review writes itself before you even get a chance to take a single note. That can be both good and not so good, but let’s see where this automatic type-fest leads now, shall we? Devious Dungeon ($7.99, Cross-Buy) is great fun because of its solid combination of easy to grasp gameplay, crafty, challenging randomized levels, and single-minded enemies set on “kill”. There’s a very reliable straightforwardness to the game in that, as a port of a mobile game from a few years ago, it’s not focusing on gimmicks and boxing you in with arcane rules and overly complex gameplay. This is more or less, side-scrolling dungeon 101 and because it works so well, that’s all it needs to be.
There’s no character creator here – you’re just a musclebound chap sent in to clear out an ever-changing dungeon other adventures have fallen prey to. You start out with an old sworn and crappy armor and yep, killing monsters nets you gold and experience. The gold is for buying better gear, the experience levels you up. You’ll also need to find a key to unlock the sealed doorway somewhere on a level. Sometimes you’ll find the door before you find the key, sometimes it’s the other way around. Either way, death lurks everywhere thanks to monsters, traps and other hazards. Combat is simple, but you’ll need to time your attacks carefully lest a foe or foes do you in with their own well-timed hits. Ranged weapons or spells are especially painful, by the way.
Dying is a given here, as you start with a small amount of HP and it’s easy to get smacked around by the growing assortment of baddies is you’re too careless. Leveling up allows you to spend points in one of three stats (I’d start with Strength just because taking less time to dispatch those beasties is a good way to stay alive longer). If you die, you keep your earned experience and gold, so you can hop back into things with the game starting over from the first floor unless you’ve unlocked one of the higher floor checkpoint restart spots. The only twists here are the random unexplained side missions that give you bonuses upon killing certain monsters or acquiring certain items. You’ll certainly get those Trophies fairly quickly to the point it might seem a truck carrying them tipped over on your doorstep.
Once you get the hang of things (it’ll take about a minute or two), the 68 floors move along at a pretty rapid clip, but feel free to take your time as the game doesn’t penalize you for wanting to take it slow. The jumping is a tiny bit floaty, but can be nailed with practice. While enemies are set on permanent puree, there’s actually a wee bit of leeway when it comes to spikes. you lose a small amount of HP if you fall or try to cross them, but they don’t kill you outright. Still, if you’re on your last 2HP and some coins from that goblin or werewolf bounce down onto those spikes, you may want to scoot for the exit rather than go for the gold and have to restart from a lower floor. Of course, if you’re on a higher floor, you can choose to die and hit that last checkpoint just to do some shopping. It’s your move.
Ravenous Games, along with Woblyware and Ratalaika Games have cooked up a solid (albeit predictable – but fun!) homage to arcade platforming gameplay and the basic RPG additions such as loot, tricky boss battles and replay value one expects from randomized dungeons all add up to a solid deal. That said, I do have a few gripes. An optional perma-death difficulty, an unlockable character or three for completing the game and maybe an extra game mode or two would extend the life span of this greatly. Then again, that’s what sequels are for, I guess.
Score: B+ (85%)
(Review code provided by the publisher)
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