Thursday, February 9, 2012

Game Review: Dungeons of Dredmor

Dungeons of Dredmor has been out for a while now, but I only started playing it this week. It's a roguelike from Gaslamp Games. This is the first major title from Gaslamp Games, though the founding members of the three-man group have worked in the field on other projects before this. There's been a lot of hubbub about this game and how it's reviving the roguelike genre, but as I've never been in to roguelikes before, I hadn't gotten around to trying it out - until now.

Dungeond of Dredmor is available on Steam for Windows and Mac, and is also available for Linux. There are rumors of an iOS version in the making.

What It Does Well

I was worried going into Dredmor that I would become really frustrated with the game immediately. I'm not an especially hardcore kind of gamer, and that's the main reason I've never been into roguelikes - I don't like permadeath. Dredmor gives you the option of turning that off, though, as well as many difficulty settings which allowed me to choose what kind of experience I wanted to have. The amount of choice available in the game makes it a ton of fun - rather than choosing from a set number of classes at the beginning, you have a wide array of skill trees to choose from and you create your own class. I decided to go for a sneaky pirate who uses swords and crossbows my first time through, but I think I'd like to try a wizard of some sort next. Planning what cool skills you want to try makes the replay value very high, giving this title a LOT of bang for your buck.

What Needs Work

Indie titles are being held to a higher bar these days. While Dredmor's gameplay certainly measures up, the overall look and feel needs a bit of polish. The actual sprites are fun and stylized, and there are lots of neat little atmospheric things such as the monsters commenting (usually insultingly) as you fight them. However, the user interface is a little awkward both in functionality and appearance. The monster text could use a background or speech bubble or something. The isometric view makes it difficult to see things that are close to the wall sometimes. Tall characters or monsters sometimes lead to very unfortunate mis-clicks since it seems like you are clicking the sprite but you actually need to click the square they are standing on. All these are small things, but they add up and detract from the overall experience.

Should You Play It?

All polish issues aside, this game is truly wonderful considering it is a three-person indie title. It fully deserves the recognition it's been getting, and has actually made me interested in the roguelike genre. Plus, it's dirt cheap, so there's really no excuse for not trying it out!

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