It’s a good sign when you’d rather play the game you’re supposed to review than actually review it. I am afraid to run Dungeons of Dredmor again because I’ll spend another hour on it (at best). Sadly, I had to get screenshots for the article, so I lost another 2 hours summoning moustache golems and killing diggles.
Dungeons of Dredmor is a roguelike game, but unlike most in the genre, this one is pretty accessible. For those who don’t know, roguelikes are turn-based RPGs with random level generation, brutal difficulty and permadeath. I tried getting into stuff like Nethack before, but the games never clicked with me. It is now that I realize how lucky I was before I encountered DoD. It’s a test of willpower whenever I scroll through my Steam library, hoping not to get sucked in yet again.
I honestly have no idea where to start. Should I mention the excellent humour, best compared to the Munchkin card game? Should I start with the addictive gameplay? The difficulty which I would go so far as to put right up there with Godhand? Dungeons of Dredmor does everything so well that I’d rather just turn every syllable in this article into a hyperlink directing you to the Store page, telling you to buy it instead of reading any further.
The plot of the game is that you, the bloke chosen by the king, have to go deep down into the Dungeons of Dredmor, find the evil lich and slay him. On your journey, you’ll encounter various monsters and traps. You will also die. You will die a lot. Unless you turn permadeath off (and why would you do that?), you will lose hours of levelling and gear you just know you’ll never see again. But it is fair. It will mock you for dying, but the game rewards smart play. If you die, you know it will be because you didn’t pay attention, took an unnecessary risk, or just went in unprepared. Every time you die, you will be a bit wiser as to how to play the game.
The aesthetics, abilities and humour go hand-in-hand with each other and create a truly funny and cheerful atmosphere. It’s the kind of funny that makes you stop whatever you’re doing and open your instant messenger, copy-pasting all the jokes to your friends. The illustrations for all the buffs, debuffs and powers fit well with the descriptions. This is one of the rare games where I’ve read every item description beyond the stats. Not all are funny (or meant to be), but more often than not, you’ll be playing with a smile on your face. And then you’ll die because you were paying attention to the Golden Axe reference instead of the Steamy Golem.
Really, I can’t bring myself to not like this game. It’s as though it was made for me. The Drizzt jokes, poking fun at Braid… heck, it even makes fun of my own country! I feel like I was bribed with the things that I like only so Gaslamp Games would get a stellar review.
Of course, the game is not perfect. As much as I try to deny that fact, I have run into occasional bugs and general silliness from my summoned monsters. Whenever I summoned slimes or golems, they would either “tank” the enemies (as they are meant to) or run around leaving me to be slaughtered by the Unfriendly AI. I have also found that clicking somewhere during your enemies’ turn (to cast a spell or take an item, for example) will make your character run around the dungeon, stepping into traps, monsters and various other hazards you may or may have not set yourself. These are, sadly, things that will get you killed and there’s nothing worse than dying because of bugs, especially in permadeath games.
The worst thing is that I’ve still not been able to get beyond level 5 and I’m not sure Dredmor even exists… He could be a McGuffin or red herring, I don’t know. If you ever wanted to dabble in roguelikes, but were intimidated by the unfriendly interfaces, Dungeons of Dredmor is an excellent title to get into. If you’re a fan of geek humour and unforgiving difficulty, you should definitely look into it. For the price Gaslamp Games are asking, it’s worth every cent (or whatever crazy currency you choose to use). I wouldn’t recommend it to veterans of the genre, though. I’m sure they’d consider Dungeons of Dredmor to be a good introduction, but it lacks the unpredictability or complete unfairness. Whether that’s a good thing or not, is a matter of taste.
Platform: PC and Mac
Developer: Gaslamp Games
Genre: Roguelike RPG
Time: 18 hours so far. I was lucky.
Gripes: Occasional quirky behaviour of summoned monsters and bugs.
Get it for the: Extremely high replay value, excellent humour, cheap price.
Full disclosure: PXOD was given a PC review copy of the game from the developer. The only price was the author’s soul which the game has devoured.