Quest of Dungeons (Xbox One Review)
Roguelike dungeon crawlers continue to flood the indie game market with their popular methodical style of level generation, making sure every subsequent playthrough is a fresh and unique one. From grinding levels to finding loot most RPG’s tend to need more than a simple subset of trivial quests or an over-elaborated story to keep them feeling worthy of the hours that you’ll eventually funnel into them. For me, it’s usually not so entertaining to play roguelikes if the emphasis is more on grinding out levels to overcome a more difficult opponent or area. Knowing you’ll have to fail in order to proceed has an adverse effect on players, stopping progression or even enjoying the game. Fortunstely David Amador and Upfall Studios have avoided the stagnant grind with Quest of Dungeons. The game isn’t repetitive and doesn’t force a predictable outcome and dying to a foe that is overly powerful seems justified as you are, more or less, as powerful as they are.
Quest of dungeons throws us into the usual tropes of dungeon explorers/loot entrepreneurs in their quest to delve for riches and that ever-so-slightly better gear with +1 to “Not sucking so hard”. The story is pretty generic, but then again we arent here for a tale of might and heroism, we want the loot. An evil darkness has enveloped the land and has stolen away the world’s light. As a hardy adventurer it is your job to plunge to the depths of an eerie 7 floor mansion to kill the evil dark lord and restore light to the land. Before you begin your quest you’re presented with a screen to select a dungeoneer. Though varied in style of play, each class has their own weaknesses and strengths. For example, the warrior can withstand a good deal of damage, bolstering a high amount of HP to boot. Unfortunately he will always be charging face first into the enemy, putting him in more dangerous scenarios. Other classes range from a Mage, Assassin, Shaman and, a bonus Necrodancer character for completing the game. Their differences are significant enough to warrant trying all the characters at least once but when you figure out that the Assassin has: the best range, overpowered abilities and, has no mana dependency then he tends to overshadow the rest of the cast.
For those who have the slightest case of OCD; you will be at home exploring every room and breaking every vase in sight, a syndrome effect first brought on by playing Zelda. Ranging from dank, cobweb filled cellars to even dirty, darker, cobweb filled cellars. The surrounding scenery is a simple palette swap of colours. Rooms are usually barren and void of any aesthetics other than your simple chest or breakable container. Strewn about you’ll find quest tablets to interact with which will trigger one of two things to spawn; a tougher enemy variant or a unique item. Once either the item has been collected or you’ve slain the enemy (following the games own obscure directions) then you’re awarded with XP and gold for your troubles. The culmination of your gold hoarding will get squandered at the in game merchant located on each floor. Used to purchase weapons, armor, health or the occasional key for that pesky locked door two floors up. The decision to descend floors to face more grueling opponents isn’t particularly a tough one. You aren’t stranded if you accidentally trodden on down to a floor you may not be ready for as you can simply ascend back up. Taking away the risk of the unknown.
Games with simplistic design usually really on distinctive artwork or an interesting soundtrack to create a sense of atmosphere. Quest of Dungeons have nailed it on both aspects. It’s quaint and charming character design, the comical yet semi-serious dialogue, and the calming yet invigorating soundtrack solidifies Quests of Dungeons personality. The only qualm I have with Quest of Dungeons is its lack of feedback or UI in terms of viewing character stats and traits. Weapons and armor in the world have stat bonuses that get applied to your character such as; +1 to Dexterity or +1 to Vitality. Those who are familiar with RPG’s can take an educated guess at what these affect but with no real in game stats screen we cannot see what their effects are. Since weapons and armor can have similar named stats like; +2 HP and +2 Vitality. Its hard to discern how these stats effects differ from one another or if they are simply the same.
My overall experience with Quest of Dungeons has been fantastic.With very little doubt in my mind that this has been one of the best, precisely designed, roguelike dungeon crawlers I have managed to get my hands on. Its addictive gameplay keeps me coming back for more and never sees me bored. Quest of Dungeons is a prime example of when a developer uses as little as possible and makes the best out of what they have and manages to create an unforgettable game.