by Benjamin Fitzgerald
I’d heard about Deep Dungeons of Doom for a while, but had never felt the driving urge to buy it. However, I acquired a free Steam key from Bundle Stars, so I reckoned on downloading it.
I didn’t think much of it at first. It was kind of frustrating. I didn’t really understand what I was doing, or how to get very far. I was getting wiped out in dungeons right and left, and I got pretty mad.
I liked the gameplay, however, so I took a step back and just revisited old dungeons over and over to build up my stats, and slowly the game began to make more sense. Before I knew it, I was hooked.
So let’s take a step back and consider the mechanics of what makes this game tick.
Deep Dungeons of Doom takes place in a generic anime-themed fantasy world, following the adventures of Marion the Crusader and his companions, Damascus the Mercenary and Beatrix the Witch. Marion has sworn his life in defense of his homeland, which has become overrun by terrible evil. Tasked by the desperate King, he is the country’s last hope.
As he progresses through the land, cleansing monasteries, mines and graveyards of their evil and demonic minions, he meets Damascus and Beatrix and enlist their aid in his noble quest. Their journey will eventually take them to the Deepest Dungeon of Doom and a final confrontation with the Devil himself.
If the story sounds a little undeveloped, you’re right. That’s because the story isn’t really the central element of the game. Deep Dungeons of Doom harkens back to an older era of arcade games, where plots were more often a minor contrivance to advance the action than a true deep narrative.
Story is a secondary concern in this game. Most of the action takes place in the dungeons, which become deceptively difficult.
Each character as four separate stats which determine their abilities. They are Health, Magic, Attack and Agility. Health and Magic determine your hit and magic points, Attack decides how much damage you deal, and Agility determines how quickly you can attack again. The Crusader has the most balanced stats. As you might expect, the Mercenary favors Agility and rapid strikes, and the Witch favors Magic.
Each class can activate a special ability. Crusaders can regain Health, Witches regain Magic and the Mercenary deals additional damage. Knowing how to utilize these abilities can be critical for your survival, especially in the case of the Witch. The Witch depends on her magic do deal damage quickly, as she has lower hit points and agility. If she runs out of magic, she deals very little damage, which too often results in her defeat.
In addition to these basic stats, there are also more advanced abilities that can be unlocked as each character progresses. There are three different styles of abilities and seven different tiers. One style focuses on dealing terrible amounts of destruction, but often at the cost of other stats. The middle style is the most straightforward, and is almost uniformly positive attributes – but they don’t always provide the biggest bonuses. The third style tends to focus more on the use of magical powers. You unlock more abilities as you advance through the dungeons and collect gold. With 27 different abilities, there are many ways to customize your character.
Playing is simple. You advance down (or sometimes up) through the dungeon, slaying the monsters as you meet them, and collecting gold and treasure. There are a wide variety of different monsters, but only a handful of each type will spawn in each dungeon. You meet vampires, skeletons and headless horsemen in the graveyard, but encounter orcs, kobolds and goblins in the coal mine.
Each of the monsters has a particular approach to combat, and requires an adaptive approach. For example, the Abaddon (a goat demon) stands still. Then they move to attack, and then they move to block before becoming open again. In order to defeat the Abaddon, strike while he’s standing. Block when he moves to attack, and hold your attack while he is blocking. If you strike too soon, you may miss your opening for a safe strike.
Of course, you also have the option to initiate a riposte, striking the demon while it prepares to attack. Fail to recover in time, however, and you will be struck before you can recover and block his blow.
Because each of the three classes have such different strengths, you will need to adjust your strategies in kind. Crusaders start with more health than other classes and generally recover their health more quickly, so they may be able to justify taking a bruising for the sake of dispatching an enemy more quickly. The other classes don’t have these advantages.
Sometimes the chests the monsters are guarding reveal loot. There are two kinds of loot: equipment and items. Equipment can include swords, helmets, amulets and magical rings that provide stat boosts and other protections, although they sometimes have negative costs as well. Items are generally one-shot consumables or else have a set number of uses. They may restore Health or Magic, temporarily boost one or more of your stats, or deal damage to an enemy in exchange for magic or health. Any items and equipment carried out of the dungeon carry over to the next dungeon, and up to 18 items can be stashed away for safekeeping.
At the end of the game, you can explore the titular Deep Dungeons of Doom, which, rumor has it, extends all the way down to 666 levels. I smell evil brewing…
Deep Dungeons of Doom is a pretty fun game, and pretty addicting too. One you have completed a bunch of quests and level up your character to high levels, they become forces of destruction, plowing their way through enemy forces like wax paper. Getting to that point takes a lot of time and patience though, and the gameplay is fun enough and rewarding enough to make the bit of necessary grind worth it in the end. I have no regrets.