Reader Review: Legend of Dungeon (PC)

DUNGEON_BOXReady to get your retro-fix on? Legend of Dungeon is an old-school pixel styled randomized dungeon crawler for one or two players. But is it any good? I had my good friend Leroy take it for a spin, so check out his take on it and find out for yourself!

Legend of Dungeon is a rougelike dungeon crawler created by developer by Robot Loves Kitty. It is currently available on Steam or directly through the developer at http://www.robotloveskitty.com/LoD/buy.php for $10. I always recommend buying directly from the developer, this gives them more money and you still get a key to register the game through the Steam client.

Legend of Dungeon is a game that, on the surface, has a plethora of things that scream out to me directly; the word “dungeon” is in the title, it has pixel graphics, it’s got rougelike mechanics, it mixes action and RPG together, and so on.

You are tasked with exploring a twenty-six floor dungeon to retrieve a treasure and return to the surface for glory. Dungeons are randomized and combat is beat ‘em up style. Defeated enemies drop experience, money and other items such as potions. There’s not much structure to the game, you can fight as much as you want or run directly to the stairs to the next level (although doing so may leave you unprepared for tougher battles to come). Hats and weapons can be found and equipped to raise stats or affect other abilities, such as movement speed.

Unfortunately, Legend of Dungeon’s controls and gameplay mechanics are a bit clumsy, which ends up dragging all of the neat aspects of the game down. Players and monsters move without weight or physics and attacks don’t have ample hit-stun to them (meaning that an enemy doesn’t react much to your attack and will generally continue to plow towards you). You can learn to work with the game’s mechanics but they just don’t “feel” right.

In addition to that, the randomization of the dungeons feels off. You’ll come across a lot of buttons and switches that don’t appear to do anything or do something that leads to nothing. Items can sometimes be stuck in an unreachable spot without a switch to lead you them or you’ll find a button that creates stairs to a high up balcony containing a single coin. You may not find additional equipment for several levels, leaving you with your starting weapon to fend off increasingly more dangerous threats. Of course, this is part of the nature of roguelikes, so it’s hard to dock it too much for this.

These little niggles are less prominent in multi-player, however. Having more than one person adds a deeper layer of fun to the game. The combat is still clunky, but it comes off as far less frustration when you dungeon diving with a pal, especially since having another player gives one the opportunity to move off of their weapon item to heal or offer lighting for dark areas without leaving them defenseless. On top of that, dying in multi-player doesn’t mean game over. If your partners can continue on without you, you can slowly pick up spirit orbs to bring yourself back to life. These mechanics tend to favor multi-player sessions over solo runs.

I would be remiss to not mention the game’s very impressive 3D lighting effects that clash incredibly well with the lo-fi pixel graphics. It’s a treat to watch the two styles coming together in such a way.

Legend of Dungeon has a lot of neat ideas and the beat ‘em up style offers a fresh way to play around with rougelike dungeon mechanics. But in the end, it feels like the game is still a work in progress and extremely important things like combat mechanics fall flat. The game is continually being worked on, so I will continue to come back to it after major updates to see if some of my issues are ironed out so that the pearl hiding inside can be enjoyed.

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Kid Factor:

There’s nothing overly violent here, pixel warriors fighting pixel monsters that explode in pixel particles. –Larry Capasso (But don’t forget the pixelated barf when you drink a bad potion! –Cary)

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