Whenever you see a bite-sized RPG, you probably don't expect it to be a grand adventure. However, Brave Dungeon simplifies dungeon exploration in a way that results in a rather addictive journey so let's travel to Newport and get ready for a fun-filled quest!
Brave Dungeon begins with renowned treasure hunter Al on her way to claim some magical items for herself. Things won't be that easy, though, because she bites the dust almost immediately after beginning her journey. Upon coming to in a quaint town known as Newport, she decides to assemble a party with two other lucky ladies before continuing her adventure. You can choose between Papelne, Rudy, Stoj, and Mari who each have their own unique traits. For the record, I chose Rudy and Stoj as one is great at attacking and the other is a capable healer. You may recognize these chums (along with many of the enemies) from The Legend of Dark Witch which makes this a fitting companion game for those who can't get enough of Zizou's adorable world. Thankfully, the graphics and music are as brilliant as ever with colourful well-animated characters and memorable tunes that'll get you tapping your toe.
You play Brave Dungeon by configuring and upgrading your party at Newport in between taking on dungeons. There are five dungeons that you can challenge any time you wish. Each one is more challenging than the previous and they also have multiple floors so you'll likely finish the first floor of one then move on to the next until you eventually master every single dungeon. The first four have four floors each while the final one has six so it's not an extremely long game (it took me over six hours to beat it the first time).
Anyway, you'll uncover maps with icons for treasures, gather points, and enemies simply by exploring. Doing so will help you navigate through them more efficiently. The battle system is extremely simple as all you do is select an ability on each character's turn. Some require more recharge time than others but there's no MP or anything to worry about. The basic formula of exploring dungeons while fighting enemies then going back to town to upgrade your party and craft useful items and accessories is surprisingly addictive. Honestly, I've been completely hooked since I downloaded it and I have tons of AAA games just sitting on the shelf.
Once you complete Brave Dungeon's final dungeon, you'll unlock an impressive amount of bonus content that'll keep you busy for many more playthroughs. First, you'll gain access to the extra-difficult Nightmare dungeon where you can test your abilities as a treasure hunter. Next, you can start a New Game+ if you want to play it all over again but with certain aspects from your first playthrough remaining intact. You can purchase what carries over (and many other extras) from the Syega Shop. You'll get a lot of Syega for finishing the game but you can also earn more and other goodies by playing mini-games such as Poker, Syegacha, and Avoid Runner. If that's not enough, you can browse records, hard-to-obtain achievements, and listen to the complete soundtrack.
Although Brave Dungeon is a fantastic little portable RPG, it can also be a bit too simplistic. After playing through floor after floor of the dungeons, it's hard not to wish there was more to it. Even though I was addicted, I couldn't help but feel everything was getting repetitive only an hour or two into the adventure. On top of that, the difficulty at the beginning of the campaign is far higher than later on. This is because at about halfway through, you'll start to level up too quickly thus making even the toughest boss perish within a few rounds. This less than ideal difficulty curve makes the overall sense of accomplishment far less satisfying than it could be if the challenge was steady throughout. Although these are substantial complaints, it's still a very fun and worthwhile journey.
Brave Dungeon is a fabulous portable RPG set in the delightful world of The Legend of Dark Witch. If you're a fan of the series or just want a simple dungeon exploration game on the go then downloading it should be a no-brainer.
- + Basic dungeon-exploring RPG gameplay that's strangely addictive
- + Colourful world and great music
- + Surprising amount of extra content
- - Simplistic gameplay setup can become very repetitive after a while
- - Difficulty gets far too easy as you progress which makes it feel less satisfying