Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
There is one particularly influential game that has gone entirely underrepresented on iOS: Spelunky. While Devious Dungeon isn’t exactly that, it does come from that family of procedurally-generated action platformers, this one in particular may seem like a mobile version of Rogue Legacy. But while its inspirations may be clear, Devious Dungeon misses out on why those games were so good – being only mindless entertainment to tune out to.
Essentially, players are thrust into a dungeon at a certain level number, which is really just a number because the levels are procedurally generated, though later levels have more powerful enemies. Every 13 levels there’s a boss fight, which also has a checkpoint so it’s more of a mild annoyance than anything really challenging. Along the way players earn coins, which they can spend on item upgrades for better stats, and collect experience points, which can upgrade stats even further.
It’s a very by-the-books experience, and it feels like a game that misses the point of why Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, and the rest of the Roguelike-inspired games are so fun: per aspera ad astra. Those games throw lots of challenges the player’s way, but they make sure that the player is rewarded for succeeding be it through tangible in-game rewards and/or through intangible satisfaction. Doing well at one of those games feels good.
Because Devious Dungeon is more of a grindfest, and starts out by making health and damage crooked numbers with little perspective as to what they actually mean, it’s easy to feel out of touch. As well, the game has little actual challenge once it’s discovered that running away from enemies and back in to attack them is the key. It never feels good, but it’s the way to go. Everything just feels rote and paint-by-the-numbers. Even the secrets feel kind of dull; just more coins and experience for stat upgrades that have only minor effects (beyond some sweet-looking armor, I must admit). Even a long run from the beginning just means more money, not any score or anything. The reward is simply more of the game.
Admittedly, these flaws actually make Devious Dungeon a great mindless game for those who just want to sit back and zone out without thinking too much. I spent way too much time one afternoon playing Devious Dungeon even though most of the time I was thinking about how it could be better. I think at least this serves as proof that this genre could work in some form on iOS, it’s just going to take a talented designer to make it perfect.
Tagged with: $0.99, Devious Dungeon, Ravenous Games, Rogue Legacy, roguelike, Spelunky, Universal App