Stick to Pen & Paper – Paper Dungeons
We’ve got an idea for a rogue-like where you go back to level 1 and lose all of your equipment at the start of each floor!
If someone broke into our office with a pitch like that, we would kindly ask them how they got in and why they think that would be enjoyable for anyone. It’s the videogame equivalent of pulling out after each thrust and getting dressed again. Unfortunately Agent Mega, the developer behind Paper Dungeons, never pitched to us; so…
From the get go Paper Dungeons disappoints with only one class choice and tiny opening levels, it doesn’t do much to change-up the formula, either. As your heroic warrior, you delve into the goblin caves to face increasingly difficult foes and try to retrieve the king’s crown. Later, you descend into other caves as a rogue, wizard, or cleric. All innovative stuff, we’re sure you’ll agree…
Game play is broken down to movement and combat with some slight variations on the genre, for example; you can walk through walls of force at the cost of 10 hp per square. Unfortunately this is usually pointless, as avoiding enemies only puts you at a major disadvantage against foes later in the game.
Who wins in a battle is decided purely by dice rolls with damage being dealt at the same time, unless you have a special die. This makes it incredibly annoying in longer levels as it is purely down to luck whether or not you will succeed. Later on you can stack the odds in your favour by finding new sets of dice with different powers, but the element of luck always remains.
At the start of each floor your character will, for some reason, be returned to level one. It is incredibly frustrating and removes all sense of flow, but is, thankfully, only present in the main campaign. However, you have to play through the main campaign to unlock the rogue-like mode, the more classic dungeon crawling mode.
A puzzle mode is also included, bringing fixed enemy positions and damage, with more focus on tactical movement than dice rolls. If Paper Dungeons’ main focus was puzzle mode, we could actually get behind it as it, because it makes for a decent little puzzler.
Aside from the problems with its gameplay, Paper Dungeons’ story also leaves a lot to be desired. It’s needlessly simple and clichéd that, and couldalmost pass for parody if it had any real humour. It plays the story straight, pushing you from goblin chief to goblin chief with no real connection between them except for names. It’s all a little vanilla with no real personality of its own.
Chief among our concerns with Paper Dungeons is its godawful random item generation. Not once did we receive and equip-able item for the class we were actually playing as. The only items we did use were the single use potions and scrolls, all of which are unusable until you pay 50 gold to identify or use them. It also doesn’t help that you only get gold by selling items.
On a plus note, Paper Dungeons has a sleek level editor and a vast amount of enemies and locations so if you can stand the boring combat and lackluster story, you will find a lot of content awaiting you.
Paper Dungeons is still in early access – a term fast becoming unpopular among the gaming community – and may fix these issues and become an enjoyable experience but don’t hold your breath.
Paper Dungeons is available to buy on Steam as an Early Access title.