by Benjamin Fitzerald
Desktop Dungeons is one of the games I bought through Indie Piñata. Part roguelike dungeon crawl and part lighthearted kingdom building, Desktop Dungeons offers many hours of light-hearted yet grueling entertainment. It has a pretty steep learning curve, but there are a lot of tutorials to help you learn the game mechanics, as well as a lot of challenges to demonstrate your mastery of them.
The game is rather light on plot, but that isn’t really the reason anyone bought it in the first place. Basically, your caravan was destroyed somehow and all the misplaced travelers form a new community. As the game progresses, you dive into dungeons and solve quests to earn the gold needed to build up your settlement, which in turn leads to bigger and badder quests.
The meat of the game is the various quests you will undertake. Quests bring a lot more rewards than just gold. Some allow you to build new buildings, such as a bank or an apothecary. During other quests, you may meet other races who are willing to join your settlement – elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, gnomes and halflings. Through solving quests you unlock new dungeons and other special rewards. There may also be sub-dungeons that contain altars to various gods, who can be a powerful asset if you learn to use their abilities well.
There are four basic classes in the game: wizards, fighters, thieves and priests. However, there are also a number of upgrades – specialized classes that have various powerful abilities. Some of these classes unlock new glyphs – special powers that use mana – and others come with a wide set of special abilities. Some of the classes, such as paladin and assassin, have some seriously powerful abilities, and can be coupled with the right god to devastating effect. New monsters are also unlocked with each new class upgrade, providing the player with new challenges and obstacles to overcome.
The graphics are nothing impressive, but they are par for the course for a roguelike. The tone of the game is occasionally inconsistent; it usually aims for light-hearted humor, but at times seems to take itself very seriously, especially with the god Dracul – a rather macabre god of blood.
Desktop Dungeons is ridiculously addicting. It is also super challenging. I have dedicated way more hours to this game than i reasonably should have. Many of the quests are difficult, and combat can be very unforgiving – there isn’t a lot of room for mistakes. Some of the challenges are simply brutal, and you may find yourself replaying a dungeon over and over again trying to get it right. The first time I played this game, I spent eight or nine hours and just couldn’t get anywhere with it. I decided to give it another go before writing this review, and it’s probably a good thing, because I now have a much better understanding of how the game works.
If you are a fan of dungeon crawling, roguelike action and challenging gameplay, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Desktop Dungeons. It has a ton of content, lots of replayability, randomized dungeons, and a lot of interesting classes, races and deities with unique abilities to master. But if roguelikes with often-overwhelming gameplay aren’t your bag, you should probably skip this title; it’ll be more of a headache than it’s worth. Because when this game gets hard, it’s hellish.