Dungelot, a casual roguelike from Red Winter Software, is now available from the app store. Featuring simplified gameplay, clean graphics, and fun RPG elements, Dungelot gives novices an engaging introduction to dungeon exploration.
- Clean cartoon presentation and simple animations
- Soundtrack is subdued, though enjoyable
- Controls are strictly tap-based
- Variety of tile types and strategies to employ
- GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and friendly challenges
- Gets a bit repetitive after a short time
- Luck plays a big part in your success
Dungelot contains an endless dungeon where each level (or dungeon floor) is a screen-sized 6x5 grid of squares. One square acts as your entrance/exit, while the rest must be exposed by tapping on their gray stone coverings. Underneath each stone could be a variety of elements: coins to make shop purchases, health increases in the form of hearts, attack upgrades in the form of weapons, treasure chests containing spells, barrels containing mystery items, access to neat mini-games, helpful friends, troublesome enemies, poison, traps, shop access, empty “safe” tiles, and more. In order to move on to the next level, you’ll need to engage in combat with one or more enemies, as one of them is hiding the golden key that allows you to escape. Once you obtain the key, you are free to leave, though you might be leaving some great bonuses behind. Of course, you could also expose yourself to a number of new enemies or dangers that have a negative impact. Battles boil down to simple math. Each enemy displays an attack power and health score, just as your hero does. You and your enemy will trade blows, depleting each other’s health by the amount of attack power that your weapons possess. Typically, your enemy attacks first, though you’ll occasionally get the first shot in. There are character stats that come into play that give percentage chances of certain advantageous actions taking place, increasing attack power against certain enemies, etc.
There is a good deal of strategy and luck involved, and making it deep into the dungeon will certainly take repeated efforts, upgraded heroes, and horded coins to make purchases along the way. As you get better and get further, you can unlock additional hero classes, up to 3 in addition to the default paladin. The available skills for each vary by class and offer additional strategic choices that impact gameplay. During play, you’ll collect a number of spells for one-time use against enemies or persistent benefit from being held in one of your 8 inventory slots. Additionally, you could sell the spells for coins as needed. Duplicate spells stack within the same slot, and once you have filled all 8, you cannot open treasure chests containing new items until you free up a slot. Death, or course, is inevitable, though Dungelot makes it palatable by allowing you to carry over character upgrades and keep all remaining coins for your next attempt, so selling off inventory items when it looks like all is lost may be a sound strategy. There are tons of risk-reward decisions to make (purchase access to the greedy door or keep going, clear the floor for bonus loot or get out while the getting’s good). The game can get a bit repetitive, but even when you feel like you’re just going through the motions, there are still a bunch of surprises to uncover and new enemies to take out.
Graphically, Dungelot has a clean, cartoony style that reinforces the fun and casual style of the game. The enemy variety and strategies needed to eliminate them efficiently is terrific, and enemy stats scale nicely with your own strength increases. Each uncovered enemy temporarily renders surrounding uncovered squares locked until he is eliminated, dimming them and covering them with red X’s until such time. Minor animations give the game a little life, and there is a good deal of info readily available to inform your decisions. The soundtrack is subdued but charming, and the various sound effect give the game some life. Controls are strictly tap-based, offering good responsiveness. Collecting items requires additional taps beyond just uncovering the tile, so it’s hard to make a move that you didn’t intend.
Replay value is very good, as the multiple classes, various upgradeable skills, randomly-populated floors, and pure gaming joy should keep you coming back for more. GameCenter integration allows for leaderboards and challenges. A universal app for $1.99, Dungelot is a solid 4.5-Dimple challenge.