Legend of Dungeon Review
It is a huge honor to review yet another game that made its debut on Kickstarter. Kickstarter doesn't need its horn tooted, but it is a perfect medium for game developers such as Robot<3Kitty to let gamers invest in a project deeming it worthy of prime time. Robot<3Kitty consists of only a husband and wife creating games that they are passionate about. Do not be fooled by the seemingly limited resources of just two people working on a game; with Legend of Dungeon (LoD) these two people have provided a near solid experience.
I was never a fan of the early ASCII Rogue-like adventure games, mainly because I didn't have the imagination for it. Legend of Dungeon stays true to the old school Rogue adventure games, but adds a huge modern touch with amazing 3D pixel art and dynamic lighting. For the younger gamers and those not familiar with Rogue-like adventure games, you are a lone adventurer seeking treasure in a series of levels pitted against various puzzles, enemies, and bosses that all stand in your way of the treasure that lies at the end. The concept is fairly straightforward, however it has been a successful template for games for many years, and it especially works for LoD.
LoD doesn't hesitate in getting right to the action. The only friendly stop is at the beginning when you enter a pub which is where you can alter your look by going into the men or women's bathroom and coming out with a randomized look. While not really customizable, it is a humorous touch leaning towards Clark Kent entering a room and coming out as Superman. It may seem subtle to others but when you walk around among the residents of the pub you meet the pixel avatar of the creators and Kickstarter backers that highlight the dynamic lighting and abilities of the 3D pixel graphics, which is a nice touch. Of course there is no way I could continue on my adventure without having a brew with my new friends. I decided to take a beer from one of the tables and use it. To my surprise I was a lightweight and started randomly walking around aimlessly with no control. No matter what buttons I pressed nothing would respond until I snapped out of it and accidentally whacked the bartender in the face with my sword. Head my warning: never start a fight with a bartender. Needless to say I died, but the beauty of it was the smoking skulls that emerged from my body - yet again showing off the astonishing detail and thought the creators have put into the game. Never have I thought that dying was so pretty. Game Over, Legend of Dungeon - 1, Myself - 0. After learning my lesson never to drink before an adventure I plowed forward to find what was lurking below in the 26 levels of the dungeon.
There is no real tutorial on how to play LoD, but that is what Rogue-like adventure games are all about; finding new items and just trying things out. There are the basics, meaning that you have health, armor, weapon damage, and experience to level up, but other than that it's up to you to test the waters. Find a potion that is oddly named sleeping beauty, drink it, and have your character fall asleep in the midst of battle. Find a coffee cup that you can wear as a helm, put it on and run fast. There are so many items in this game that it is almost too much. In the few hours I have played I can honestly say I have only run into a handful of identical items. There is always the question of what exactly will this do if I use it, some good and some bad. Like drinking a potion that makes you puke rainbow pixels or another that makes you run around uncontrollably sinking you into a lava pit on level 7. Darn you potions! Suffice it to say there are so many items that it leads to the game's downfall: organization. There are a variety of shiny things to pick up and the item management system has unlimited space which turns you into a hoarder. I never wanted to let anything go and in this instance it's necessary. To navigate the inventory you use the next item or previous item buttons. There isn't a nice inventory screen or bag to search - it is just a horizontal bar of items to cycle through until you find the item you want. This method doesn't come in handy when fighting a boss who summons millions of bats to eat your face and you're trying to find apples in your inventory to heal yourself. LoD Tip of the Day - Keep the inventory simple and tidy.
LoD takes on similar characteristics as Dark Souls, meaning you will die and there will be enemies that can take you out with their pinky toe. The objective sounds easy, get to level 26 and take the treasure back to the pub. Not so fast young adventurer! There are puzzles to solve which range from lighting hidden stones on the floor to open a secret door, to pulling a lever to reveal secret steps to a higher door. I haven't figured out the formula for these puzzles since each time you play the level is dynamically generated and changes. I feel the puzzles are forgiving enough to still lead you to the next level, however I feel like there may be some hidden value I am missing. You will learn the tricks of the trade as you move forward and when you do the results are typically rewarding with new items or a slew of enemies to get more experience. The other aspect that will thwart your goal of achieving treasure is the enemies. Simple snakes and gnomes are a breeze where mini bosses that summon hundreds of bats, or a vampire that you cannot harm that will instantly kill you is the real challenge. Similar to experimenting with the items you pick up there are also lessons learned from your encounters. Most are costly and you have to start over, but the lesson is learned and you adapt.
One lackluster feature I must fret over is co-op. Don't get too excited - it is local only. I am going on a limb and guessing that because of limited funds from Kickstarter they were only able to add local co-op. Where the trailer makes it look so inviting it was very disappointing that I wouldn't have the chance to play the game with my friends. Maybe then I could use them as bait to progress further in the game. Seriously, who plays local co-op anymore? Hopefully the feature will be added at a later time though I am not holding my breath.
Once you start accepting the fact that you will die and start finding weapon/item combinations that work for you the enjoyment factor ramps up considerably. I do believe that the driving factor for replay value is the unknown factor. What kind of treasure awaits me at level 26, what new enemies will I encounter on my way there, what in the world will this birthday cake do as a helm?
Final Rating: 80%. Legend of Dungeon is Rogue-like adventure at its best, with a side of humor to put a smile on any gamers face.