Quest of Dungeons' simple but competent retro art style is a fitting parallel to the game itself. Nothing about it is going to blow you away but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time with this procedurally generated dungeon crawler from Upfall Studios.
Quest of Dungeons features a simple and fast-paced turn-based combat system where both you and any onscreen enemies take turns moving one tile or attacking. The straightforward combat should come to most players quickly but count on dying a few times right away as you get a hang of the nuances. The style of combat you'll engage in is based on which class of hero you select at the start. The warrior is the all-out melee character complete with a large health bar while the Shaman will mostly engage in melee combat as well although he's endowed with a mana bar allowing him to mix in a few magic spells. The wizard's primary attack comes in the form of his magical abilities yet he's able to engage in melee battles if necessary and the assassin is equipped with a powerful bow which makes him the best at ranged combat and the easiest of the four to use. Beating the campaign with any of these classes unlocks the NecroDancer, a familiar face that indie game fans and loyal Video Chums readers will recognize from her own game, Crypt of the NecroDancer.
Each of the two procedurally generated mansions features 7 floors with about 30 rooms each, meaning you'll have more than 200 rooms to explore during every visit to the rundown manor. You're not required to visit each and every room seeing as you can head down to the next floor as soon as you find a set of stairs. However, you're highly incentivized to explore a great deal of the mansion in order to gain experience and find valuable loot. Experience is acquired each time you vanquish one of the mansion's enemies which are plentiful and get significantly stronger as you descend each floor so you'll want to engage and kill as many as you can. Enemies will drop both loot and gold which can also be found by smashing objects and opening treasure chests.
Gold is spent at the shopkeeper who appears on almost every floor. He buys and sells potions and keys as well as valuable weapons and armor. Thankfully, weapon and armor stats are very straightforward in Quest of Dungeons. There's no need to dig through menus or memorize different ability traits. During your explorations, you'll stumble across oversized bosses and useful quest stones that will reward you with XP and gold if you complete their requirements which sometimes includes killing said bosses. These boss encounters can be intimidating so you'll want to do your best to leave them for the end of the floor so that you're best prepared to fight them. A successful run on Normal difficulty should take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours but you'll be able to trim that time down a bit as you get better at the gameplay. There are four difficulty settings so you can fine-tune the challenge a bit as you improve your skills. Because it's a roguelike, you'll lose every bit of progress upon death and be forced to start over so choose wisely.
Quest of Dungeons shines in its simplicity. Its easy-to-learn mechanics and satisfyingly simple looting system make it easy to pick up for a few runs. This also leads to my main gripe: once you get the basics down, about 95% of the gameplay can be consumed at a rapid pace. Battles against even large groups of enemies take only a few seconds. However, you'll come across an extremely powerful enemy or one that's armed with overpowered affliction spells every once in a while. Because you've been conditioned to move so fast, ailments like being burned or frozen can sap massive amounts of health before you even realize what's going on. If you don't immediately slam on the brakes when coming across these rare but powerful foes, you'll have your entire run ruined in the blink of an eye. For example, I've had several runs brought to a complete halt due to one single critical hit from a boss.
In time, you'll come to recognize situations where you should slow down but these unexpected deaths and frustrations will never fully disappear. Whenever they happened, I usually took a few deep breaths or even a short break, but I found myself regularly coming back in hopes of learning from my past experiences to become an even better explorer, looter, and fighter.
- + Streamlined and easy to learn combat
- + Satisfying loot system that provides a rewarding sense of progression
- + Becomes addictive as you learn from mistakes
- - Fast-paced gameplay sometimes results in cheap deaths
- - The two castles feel very similar
- - Mistakes can initially be quite infuriating