Jordan McGurk, an Elf, a Wizard and a Knight walk in to a dungeon..
Dungeon Dashers bears much in resemblance to a Rogue-like, but I hesitate to call it as such. The game shares many aspects with the genre, but it takes steps in a new direction. Jigxor previously developed a game called “Dungeon Dash”, which was a minimalist take on a traditional rogue-like. Dungeon Dashers expands on this and goes the extra mile.
In a traditional rogue-like, players descend through a dungeon fighting monsters, gaining levels and finding items. They are step-based – enemies will move each time the player moves. These games are sometimes unfairly difficult and encourage players to find ways to quickly descend the dungeon unharmed – Dungeon Dashers is not like this.
Dungeon Dashers has a narrative and dialogue. You aren’t descending a dungeon – each floor is an independent mission. In the game you control multiple characters. It is still a turn-based game but rather than step-based, each character and enemy takes turns to move. A turn lasts until the moving unit has run out of AP. While not in combat, you have infinite AP and are free to switch between characters at will. Each character has multiple skills – up to four at a time – which cost AP to use. Each character has different uses in solving puzzles and they must work together to do so. For convenience, there are blue teleporters which will warp the rest of the party to the teleporter once. There is also a white teleporter which will warp the party to the teleporter indefinitely.
At the end of each mission you are given a star rating, shown how the number of chests, gold and kills achieved and are given options. You can also change skills and equipped gear for each character.
The controls of Dungeon Dashers are simple and intuitive. The arrow keys move your character. Enter switches between characters or ends their turn in combat. ‘Q’, ‘W’, ‘E’ and ‘R’ are used for skills. Each skill has two parts, pressing it will give you green arrows which all you to pick a direction or a red target which allows you to aim at an enemy. Skills and their Action Point costs are shown in the lower-left of the screen. Health, AP and turn-order are shown in the lower-right. Holding tab shows your current quest in the top-left, gold in the top-right and allows you to use the arrow keys to move the camera.
Initially, the game is easy and the combat and puzzles require little thought, but as you progress they both steadily increase in difficulty. I’m unaware if this is just part of the current build or a feature of the game, but the lack of healing method means that the combat plays out like a puzzle. You must position your characters and plan out the moves in a way that will stop your weaker party members from dying.
Dungeon Dashers is a polished Alpha which raises the bar on how complete an Alpha should feel. The music is fitting for the game and never feels repetitive. The sound effects and animation come together well. When you move throughout the dungeon, your character will make a satisfying hop to each tile – almost like a miniature on a board game. The dialogue is well-written and often funny. But the main question is:
Dungeon Dashers is a game I initially looked at and thought I was going to enjoy. I had no idea I would enjoy it this much. Having played many rogue-likes in my time, I can assure you none have grabbed me quite so quickly – nor so tightly – as Dungeon Dashers has. All the more impressive for an Alpha product..
The game already feels complete and could be mistaken for the first episode of an episodic game. You should definitely be excited about Dungeon Dashers – I know I am. The future holds a lot for this game, especially with features such as multiplayer still to come.
Dungeon Dashers Alpha can be purchased from http://www.dungeondashers.com/.
You can also give it a well-deserved thumbs up on Steam Greenlight.