Monday, 4 November 2013

Desktop Dungeons

I recently remembered Desktop Dungeons.  The idea behind the game is that it is a rogue-like you can play in just a few minutes.  Each game takes place on a one-floor dungeon.  You begin at level one with 10 hp, 5 damage and 10 mana.  All the enemies are fixed in place and don't attack unless you attack them, in which case they strike back.  You recover health and mana by exploring new tiles of the dungeon.  Once you have explored the entire dungeon you cannot recover any further health and you have to try to get by on what you have.
Fight the bandit and you'l'l be cursed!
You get bonus experience for killing monsters above your level but it is typically resource-intensive to do so.  Because of the explore-to-heal system and the fact that you can always leave monsters to fight later the game has a real puzzley feel to it.  Once the dungeon is generated there are very few random factors in the game so you can mostly think out your best plays logically with the limited information you have.  You can also often see when you have no hope and abandon the game for a new one.

What made desktop dungeons lots of fun was having a huge array of races and classes to play, including special monster characters which were both a race and a class in one.  Different classes are really different and require you to think about the game in different ways.  The variety of classes was actually very extreme, with one class forcing you to keep track of pools of blood left behind by slain enemies and another requirin There were also lots of challenges, like maps that have two level 10 boss monsters instead of one and maps that had special enemy types that were hard to deal with.  In the end I pretty much won the entire game - I unlocked all the content and beat the hardest challenges with many, but not all, classes.

To be honest I think I like the old graphics better, but that's okay.
I definitely left the game because I felt like I had consumed all the fun it had to offer, but that was a lot of fun.

Apparently that was the alpha version.  At the time they had an option to pre-order the full game and get access to the beta version.  I figured that even if I never played the release version I'd more than gotten my money's worth out of the pre-order and I wanted to support the developers so I ordered the full game, determined that the software they were using to give me access to the beta wouldn't run on my machine and left the game behind with no regrets.

Well yesterday I wondered if I could play the beta and I could.  What a treat that was.  While the game had gotten stale after dozens and dozens of hours of clearing dungeon after dungeon, it felt quite fresh to play it again.  The beta is very different than the alpha.  It keeps the same basic gameplay but now you unlock classes and races by getting gold and spending it on your town.  It also adds a bunch of puzzle dungeons with fixed layouts and specific challenges for each class.  The beta also eases you in a bit with some tutorial dungeons while the alpha is just plain brutal right off the start and will generally kill you a bunch of times before you get the hang of it.

This game is a real winner, and the alpha version is available for free on their website, so I'd do it.

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