Version Reviewed: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
[Editor's Note: It has come to our attention that Dungelot 2 has been pulled from the App Store by the developer due to localization issues and bug problems, and they're expecting to re-release it in another week or two.] I'm going to be upfront here: I had a hard time writing this Dungelot 2 review. The first game was a smart adaptation of the roguelike dungeon crawler for mobile devices, and Dungelot 2 is in many ways a natural refinement and extension of the concept and mechanics that made the first title so great. On the other hand, Dungelot 2 differs most significantly from the original in that it is a free-to-play game in almost every aspect of the term. There are energy limits, premium currency, in app purchases, etc, which are all things I tend to loathe and avoid in equal measure. That being said, I simply can't stop playing Dungelot 2 because it is just. That. Good.
Players familiar with Dungelot should feel right at home with this sequel. Players explore dungeons on a 6x5 grid by tapping spaces on the screen. Much like exploring a dungeon in more traditional dungeon crawlers (like Diablo), players must move in a linear fashion. As the dungeon is revealed players will come across treasure, items, and (of course) monsters that they will have to defeat if they wish to proceed in exploring a particular floor or venturing deeper into the depths. As players progress further they will earn loot, some of which can be carried out of the dungeon to help aid in player progression, though in true roguelike fashion the knowledge gained on each run is usually more valuable than any individual piece of gold or equipment.
Red Winter's particular grid-based dungeon concept is probably one of the best instances of elegant traditional-to-mobile adaptations I've seen implemented, and it is the primary reason I enjoy this game so much. With turn-based combat and tap controls, the game maintains the feel of a good old-fashioned dungeon crawler without problems like on screen joysticks. Also, since it's a roguelike, each session is a nice short burst in a freshly randomized dungeon layout. Of course, this concept isn't exclusive to the latest Dungelot, but what is new is certainly compelling. With new classes, multiple dungeons, fantastic new art, smart UI changes, and an almost completely unobtrusive free-to-play model, it's the easiest and best way to play.
The only real problem with Dungelot 2 is that its energy system could prove bothersome to folks that want to power through the experience. However, there is a one-time fee to eliminate that issue, which is probably worth it for anyone that is that invested in playing so much (not to mention a nice way to show one's appreciation to the devs). Also, there are some text boxes that come up in Russian instead of English, but I like to think of that as less of a problem and more of an awesome instance of jankiness.
Dungelot 2 is not a perfect game, but definitely is extremely fun - and important. It is a game that somehow overcomes almost all of the problems generally associated with being free-to-play, while also refusing to water-down what made it fun in the first place; which for me, is a notable and outstanding achievement.