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Dungeons of Dredmor review

Solid
AT A GLANCE
  • Strategic turn-based combat
  • Goofy sense of humor
  • Easy character creation
  • Dying for the 13 ballilionth time
  • Clunky default method of inventory management
  • Items and armor don't appear on your characters body

If you’ve played at least one dungeon-crawler in your life, you’ll probably be able to guess what Dungeons of Dredmor is all about without ever actually having to play the game. The evil Lord Dredmor is a pretty nasty guy who’s taken up residence in a deep dungeon and it’s up to you to dispatch this malevolent bastard and be recognized as the most foppish dandy in all the land. Unfortunately, this is all a pipe dream. You’ll never reach Lord Dredmor alive (we sure as hell didn’t). You see, DoD is a roguelike – a turn-based RPG that maintains the frenetic atmosphere of modern dungeon-crawlers while also including a sadistic focus on permanent death. Put simply, the real goal is to see just how far you can venture into this monster-packed trap-riddled hellhole before you kick the bucket. It’s like turn-based Diablo for masochists.


Above: Get used to seeing this screen

Developer Gaslamp Games has been marketing this ri-donk-ulously cheap game as a “casual” dungeon-crawler, which will probably confuse some as the gameplay is anything but casual. On the contrary, both dungeon exploration and combat are incredibly tense and require a great deal of strategic thought on the player’s part. “Casual” must be referring to the simplicity of the game’s character creator. You don’t waste time designating your hero’s gender, race, class, birthsign, physical features, favorite television show, whether they’re on Team Edward or Team Jacob, etc. Creating a new character is a simple matter of allotting a couple points into a surprisingly varied skill pool. Want to be a mace-wielding tank who can brew potions and summon mustache golems? Go for it. This fast approach to character creation manages to remove some of the sting from your multiple deaths thanks to all the new abilities and character builds to check out. Funnily enough, dying actually makes creating a new character an enjoyable and intuitive process as you gradually figure out which abilities supplement others.

Unlike its real-time cousins, DoD is a turn-based affair. The game features a slew of tutorial scenarios that explain the ins and outs of the game and we highly recommend you check those out before actually starting a game. Every action you take will prompt all the monsters in the dungeon to take their own actions. Since nothing in the dungeon will move until you do, feel free to just sit still and carefully consider your next plan of attack if you find yourself suddenly smack dab in the middle of a swarm of enemies. Be careful, though. One wrong move can leave your bushy-browed adventurer eviscerated, liquefied, eaten, blown up, etc.; at which point, the game will inscribe your character’s name on a tombstone alongside a score based on your performance and take you right back to the start menu. Our first run through DoD lasted about seven minutes before we were mobbed by a bunch of midget-duck things called “Diggles.” Our overall score was 12 points.


Above: Those eyebrows are… inexplicable

[This paragraph has been clarified to explain the inventory issues]
The only real issue we have with the game is how it handles inventory management. Like we said before, you’ll be coming across a ton of loot; however, the tutorial, which throws a lot of information at you at once, mentions off-hand how you can circumvent the default looting system, which is: instead of simply being able to click on whatever spoils fell to the dungeon floor and have it automatically go to your inventory, you have to manually click on the item, open your inventory tab and then drag it inside the window. The shortcut workaround is to hold Shift while clicking on items, but if you miss that little line in the tutorial, you could end up spending a ton of time fiddling with loot. Likewise, for all of the goofy crap you pick up and strap to your body, you never get to see any changes to your hero’s physical appearance. If we equip a magical road cone as a helmet, we want to see a road cone wobbling around on our head as we fight monsters, dammit!

Basically, Gaslamp Games has produced an incredibly competent roguelike with everything you’d expect from the genre – a diverse selection of monsters to kill (or get killed by), copious amounts of loot and a seemingly countless number of ingredients you can use to craft your own weapons, armor and potions. However, what really differentiates DoD from other games of the same genre is its clever and often hilarious sense of humor. Everything from the enemies to the item descriptions is dripping with satire that lovingly pokes fun at just about every aspect of the Dungeons and Dragons inspired gaming niche. Our favorite instance of this would have to be praying at the Statue of Inconsequentia – the goddess of pointless side-quests.

This game is arguably the best attempt made by an indie developer to bring the roguelike genre into the mainstream thus far. Inventory management may be an absolute chore, but you’ll be willing to forgive that thanks to the intense, strategic combat and sharp humor. It also bears mentioning that if you’re a little turned off by the thought of permanently dying and losing all of your progress, the game does enable players to turn off the permanent death feature (although, we think you’re kind of missing the point if you do that). For those who aren’t afraid of a little self-punishment, Dungeons of Dredmor promises hours of enjoyment and frustration at a stupidly cheap bargain bin price ($5 on Steam).

Aug 4, 2011

More Info

Release date: Jul 13 2011 - PC (US)
Jul 13 2011 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Role Playing
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

11 comments

  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - August 9, 2011 8:30 p.m.

    The text has been clarified, but we don't calculate scores mathematically based on the Loves/Hates at the end of the review - those are just succinct points to consider. The game's score remains unchanged.
  • lotty - August 6, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    I actualy found while in game, is ya press Esc you can select "switch click mode" which does the shift click automaticaly, which is very nice
  • InFeRnOg - August 5, 2011 5:39 p.m.

    GR you should revise your review if the Shift+Click does indeed add stuff to inventory as you've dedicated almost a whole paragraph to the inventory and also noted it as a negative. And as a previous post suggested that might be enough to bump up the score a point, I'm guessing.
  • AlmightyFuzz - August 5, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    Also when you die it adds a short, random-made sentence to your grave alongside your score. My favourite so far is "RIP Sneap the Adventurer. He Pounded like a Fruit."
  • Sentient - August 5, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    @Hobojedi Dude, it's a 5 dollar game...
  • Anjaneya - August 5, 2011 9:34 a.m.

    @number1hitjam That'd make it as good as Halo Reach. It sounds better though, to be honest.
  • number1hitjam - August 5, 2011 5:34 a.m.

    "I should point out that you can shift click to pick up items without moving them directly into the inventory. Saves a lot of hassle on inventory management. Took me a bit to find that out on my own though." So does that mean this game is an 8 then?
  • Rizzo - August 5, 2011 2:38 a.m.

    I happen to know the guys who made this...they are pretty stoked with its success so far.
  • Hobojedi - August 5, 2011 2:28 a.m.

    I'll wait for it to go on sale.
  • Rocktopus1 - August 5, 2011 1:59 a.m.

    Another option is to click and drag the item onto either your character or his picture at the bottom of the screen. Both automatically add the item to your inventory.
  • JinHalloway - August 5, 2011 1:47 a.m.

    I should point out that you can shift click to pick up items without moving them directly into the inventory. Saves a lot of hassle on inventory management. Took me a bit to find that out on my own though.

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