There’s a game I used to play as a kid called Rogue that as far as I knew was nothing significant. It was a simple ASCII dungeon crawler which had a different layout every time you played, a mysterious range of potions which would as likely kill you as cure you, and enemies represented by a single ASCII character. It looked like this in fact:
Little did I know that I was playing a genre-defining game that would still be relevant 30 years later. As well as creating the dungeon-crawler genre, inspiring games such as the Diablo series, it also gave birth to the Rougelike, which is now gaining popularity in the Indie and Mobile gaming sectors through such games as Faster The Light and Rogue Legacy. There are ongoing debates on the geekier parts of the internet about what exactly qualifies as Roguelike, but in general you can expect procedurally-generated content, turn-based combat, and death meaning death, though often now with a New Game+ mechanic.
It’s this formula that Dungelot uses, taking the genre back to its dungeon-crawler roots. You play a hero who is heading into a dungeon because… well, because that’s what heroes do. Is that not reason enough? Each dungeon consist of a 5×6 grid of tiles which you touch to explore, uncovering open floor, a monster, or various other items good and bad. One of the monsters holds the key to the door to the level below and at that point you are free to advance.
Whether you want to or not is another thing entirely. The mechanics of the game are fairly simple, with each mob (including yourself) having just hit points and attack power. You increase them by finding bonus items and need to make sure you do this early on because the deeper you go, the tougher the enemies. It becomes a balancing act of how much you want to explore and risk your hit points versus heading further into the dungeon and risking being under-powered. Sometimes it’s worth hanging around for the scrap, other times you’re best off following Kenny Rodgers’ advice and knowing when to run.
As you go further through the game you’ll unlock new hero classes and earn more money. Each has their own set of passive bonuses which can be upgraded, which obvious mean they will be stronger and can journey deeper, thus earning more money, allowing further upgrades etc etc. It’s a simple game in concept but well executed, and the constant sense of progress acts as a hook to keep you coming back. The more you play, the more you’ll learn the distinct character of each of the classes and adjust your play accordingly.
Scoring iOS games is always difficult as they’re inherently different to a console game, both in scope and pricing, but this one is particularly tricky. At first I thought I could take it or leave it, but 24 hours on and I find I have put far more time into it than I expected, and a certain amount of depth to the play is opening up. Having said that, I can imagine that within a week it’ll have made its way into my Old Games folder whilst it awaits an update to prompt me to pick it up again. However there’s an originality and addictiveness to it that I like, and it gets credit for a lite version and an all-in upgrade price of £1.49 with no IAPs, meaning that all in all it scores…
By Ian Childs
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