Considering WayForward’s history with licensed games, you’d think it would have been the perfect studio to bring Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time series to life on game consoles. (Hell, it already made a solid outing with last year’s Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! for the 3DS.) Alas, WayForward’s second Adventure Time title, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know!, is a lifeless dungeon-crawler that’s simply a chore to play. It shows a surprising lack of imagination, particularly for such a renowned studio, wrapping the zany Cartoon Network series over a tedious adventure that does neither the cartoon nor the genre any justice.
Unlike the studio’s previous stab at the license, Explore the Dungeon trades in Zelda-style gameplay for straight dungeon-crawling. Players will spend the entirety of the adventure delving deep into the randomized bowels of the Secret Royal Dungeon, where all of the Candy Kingdom’s worst criminals are locked away. When the criminals inexplicably escape, Princess Bubblegum summons Finn and Jake to explore the dungeon and find out the reason they were able to break free.
The story is predictably silly, but it serves its purpose of giving you control over all the series’ favorite characters, including the aforementioned duo, Marceline, Ice King, Cinnamon Bun, and Lumpy Space Princess (among a handful of others). The best part about this robust selection is that each character is voiced by the cast of the cartoon, infusing the game with the series’ quirky humor. Characters will frequently spout off ridiculous one-liners in the middle of the game, which are typically hilarious and do a great job of channeling the spirit of the cartoon, especially LSP’s quips, which naturally make reference to her…curvaceous figure. (I dare you to keep a straight face when she yells, “Hands off my hot, lumpy body!” after taking damage.) The rest of the presentation isn’t quite as strong, particularly the muddled visuals, but the voice acting will frequently leave you in stitches and is the game’s biggest highlight.
Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the charm of the voice work. As with other rougelikes, you’ll be spending the better part of your adventure exploring a randomized dungeon, which is divided up into 100 floors. While that may sound like a significant amount of content, you’ll soon realize that the dungeon is divided up into 20-floor segments, each of which adheres to a specific theme. That means you’ll be exploring the same generic tunnels and fighting the same enemies over and over to the point of nausea, making the game a slog.