There are many games which are roguelike, and recently a few variations have been making their way to the Xbox One console. In case you’re unfamiliar with a roguelike game, Wikipedia defines it as:
Roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing video games, characterized by procedural generation of game levels, turn-based gameplay, tile-based graphics, permanent death of the player-character, and typically based on a high fantasy narrative setting. Roguelikes descend from the 1980 game Rogue, particularly mirroring Rogue‘s character- or sprite-based graphics.
Many newer games are variations on this, and it’s tough to find a game that is a true roguelike. Our Quest of Dungeons review takes a look at just how roguelike this latest PC port to the Xbox One just is.
But first, here’s the Xbox One trailer.
As with most roguelikes, the story is pretty simple. An evil Dark Lord has stolen all the light in the land of Virul and hidden it in a magic lantern, so your mission is to enter his lair and defeat him. You are one of four heroes who must venture into the lair, but wait! There’s a catch…
Aside from the intro, there isn’t much more to the story than that, but I will admit that the intro did indeed give me a good chuckle the first time I watched it. The humour does continue throughout the game, particularly when you find a new level or perish – as you will oft do.
As with any roguelike, the levels in the game are procedurally generated. That means that every time you play the game, each level will have a different layout with different locations for loot, monsters, bosses, and stairs to the next and previous level. Each time you start the game, you chose from one of four classes: Warrior, Wizard, Assassin, or Shaman. The Warrior favours melee attacks, the Assassin ranged attacks, and the Wizard and Shaman are a mix of the two using melee attacks and spells.
The Warrior and Assassin only have health to worry about, the Wizard and Shaman also have to keep their mana supply replenished in order to cast their spells.
Turn based games can be slow, but with Quest of Dungeons it’s easy to forget that it is in fact a turn based game and it plays out very quickly. Every time you move, attack, or use a health (or mana) potion, each of the enemies in the same room moves or attacks as well. It can get a bit hairy if you’ve got 3 or 4 enemies in close proximity. The nice thing is you can also target different enemies using the left and right triggers, so you can try and get rid of the biggest – or closest – threat first. Throughout each level you’ll kill enemies, find loot in objects, pick up quests, and face off against bosses. The quests are fairly simple and do a good job of directing you in the general direction you need to head to find the item or kill the boss you are after. Each enemy you kill or quest you complete gains you XP and loot. Once you have enough XP, you level up, which also replenishes your health and mana bars.
You’ll also find secret stashes and trigger traps along the way, as well as find turn limited powerups – for example extra defense for 100 turns, so it pays to explore and move around the entire room. Some rooms require unlocking as well, and you will find keys along the way that you can use to open these rooms. Most floors will also contain a couple of portals which will whisk you away to a different section of the level. Ultimately your goal is to locate the stairs going down to the next – and tougher – level. I mention tougher because while you want to get through the dungeon as fast as possible, if you go to fast you’ll quickly find yourself outmatched so it does pay to level up a bit before proceeding.
There are also tomes of skills you can find which, depending on your class, will give you a different special attack or spell that you can use. Once learned, you can toggle between your different attacks and spells to use the one that might fit the situation best. And you can spend all that hard earned gold and sell treasure items you find along the way to the shopkeep where you can purchase health and mana potions, food, keys, and equipment upgrades.
There are a few options you can toggle for the game as well, and I found that for best gameplay turning on auto pickup and setting the game to 2x zoom offered the best experience.
There are also easy, normal, hard, and hell modes that unlock as you complete the dungeon, so you’ll be able to come back and play on a more challenging setting if you want to. You can also track your stats – how many bosses killed, time played, how much gold collected, and many more, as well as compare how you stack up globally or against your friends on the leaderboard.
As for negatives, there are a few but nothing game breaking and they are more in the “would be nice to have” category. There is no multiplayer, but I could see it being fun being able to sit on the couch with a buddy and run through the dungeon, the quests don’t pop up once you get them (you have to go into your inventory menu to see them), and finally the character you are playing doesn’t change appearance when you equip new gear – which has a different appearance in your inventory menu. As I mentioned, these aren’t game breaking things but I think they’d make the game just that much better.
The graphics are what you would expect, and in fact want, for a roguelike. Even though I played on the Xbox One, it sure took me back to the days of simpler – but not always easier – gaming. There is enough difference in enemy types, and the tile graphics work great especially once you set the game to 2x zoom in the options which fills the screen quite a bit more.
The other thing that Upfall Studios nailed here is the fog of war and line of sight functionality. You can only see a short distance ahead of you, even in a small room there will be dark corners until you approach them. Additionally, if you or an enemy walks around a corner, you’ll no longer be able to target it as you will no longer have line of sight.
The sound in Quest of Dungeons is decent and reminiscent of games of yesteryear, the sound effects are fun, the background music is not distracting, and the shopkeep music has an upbeat fun tempo. Depending where you are in the dungeon, there is definitely a sense of doom with the background music, and the sound effects for the monsters and your actions are pretty bang on.
Decent and true roguelikes are hard to come by, more often than not you get a roguelike-like – a game that pretends to be roguelike but changes things up to try and be a bit different than the rest. Quest of Dungeons really nailed the roguelike genre and plays well on the Xbox One with a controller – and for $8.99 you can’t go wrongPurchase on Xbox One
***We were sent a review copy of Quest of Dungeons for the purposes of this review.