Developer: Wild Card
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Dwarf Quest is another entry in a genre of game that’s taking off on mobile: the roguelike for people who don’t have time to deal with all the complexities of the advanced dungeon crawler. Cardinal Quest looks like Nethack compared to Dwarf Quest, though. The premise? A dwarf is set into a dungeon to try and survive, though his other dwarfy comrades have not done so well. So, he fights giant rats and minotaurs to try and reach the end. There’s very basic weapon and inventory management, to the point where players only need to worry about activating potions and the occaisonal ability. It’s as much an action game that plays by roguelike mechanics rather than a true roguelike.

Combat is turn-based, where the player gets 3 actions per turn: moving a square is a turn, attacking is a turn, and tapping on the dwarf uses up the rest of his turns as a reduced-damage defense mechanism. That last factor gives the combat a real sense of strategy; often it’s better lay in wait for enemies to come toward the dwarf, rather than moving toward them. But then there’s concern about not letting the enemies surround the dwarf. Potions come sparingly, so not taking damage needs to be a goal throughout the entirety of the game.

There are some real issues, though. In particular, the game allows players to get stuck very easily. Have one fight that goes badly, and run out of potions? Bad news, bro. There’s going to be a point where it’s pretty much impossible to advance because some enemies are just too powerful. Some bugs in the launch version don’t make this any easier. At one point, on resuming a game, I got stuck behind a locked door that was unlocked previously, and I got stuck in the doorway. Then, in one fight where I activated a switch, it created a spawn point where I permanently could not escape because any attack from the powerful enemy would kill me, and I had no way of killing them or escaping. Only way out? Reset the game. Also, there’s no real reason to pick up coins unless they’re for points, as there’s nothing to spend them on mid-game. The isometric angle of the game obscures some squares, so accidental moves frequently happen.

It’s a shame that there are these problems with the game: it’s really quite easy to get into, and if they get addressed, this could be something quite worth checking out. An update to address some of these concerns is supposedly in the works; it could help out a significantly with enjoyment of the game.

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