When Runestone Keeper was released on iOS and Steam back in 2015, it won plenty of fans and even picked up some awards. INNOTEG had managed to produce a retro dungeon crawler that tickled the nostalgia glands of older gamers whilst drawing a younger crowd into a notoriously tough roguelike world. But all of us curtain-twitchers stuck in Android camp could only watch on in curiosity, since there was no version for us. Two years later, though, and a dedicated Android release means we can play catch-up by exploring the depths of Runestone Keeper. And in doing so die, over and over again, as per tradition.
The game itself is a little reminiscent of Dungelot, with greater RPG elements and a bit of a backstory pinning it all together. In the beginning, you play as a nameless hero, but after successive runs you’ll unlock more characters including vampires and sorcerers, offering a variety of different stats and abilities. Each run involves moving floor-by-floor downward into the dark 16-bit dungeon, exploring your surroundings one tile at a time. The levels are seven-by-seven grids, a departure from many dungeon crawlers featuring expansive maps, and the floors are sprinkled with monsters to kill, traps to trip and loot to plunder.
Combat in Runestone Keeper is turn-based, and you’ll often benefit from taking a tactical approach, including making the odd retreat. The aim is to get as far as possible before inevitably meeting your end in some cobwebbed corner, only to start all over again. It’s like Billy Murray in Groundhog Day, except instead of learning piano, you have to slay monsters ad infinitum.
There are some novel features including the ability to worship one of several gods, who will grant you some bonus abilities in exchange for a sacrifice of their choosing. You can switch divine allegiances mid-run, since certain gods can offer more in exchange for your loyalty, but be prepared to fork out a severance package for any Brexit-like withdrawal of membership.
This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.