Version Reviewed: 1.27
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Card Dungeon is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the roguelike genre, eschewing lackluster Western fantasy imagery and the trappings of "normal" turn-based dungeon exploration with (of all things) two-dimensional art and cards. The delightful whimsy of Card Hunter, similar in scope to this title, shines through as Play Tap Games expertly marries the addictiveness of a card game with the strategic requirements of a roguelike.
The game gets underway as you select from a handful of cards for how your character will perform. Once you've chosen them, you can choose a campaign from a wide selection of areas as the adventure begins. The game and the tutorial mode are one in the same as you make your way through your first dungeon floor, tapping on tile after tile to navigate through. The game is turn-based, with you tapping on a directional tile on the dungeon floor to navigate, then selecting cards from the bottom of the screen in order to play different actions. It's simple enough to understand by just tapping around to get a feel for what's going on, but difficult enough that it's hard to master unless you truly pay attention to the varieties of cards you can use for equipment, defense, attacks, and so on.
You get three cards at the start of each turn, and you can attack or move, but you can only use one for each turn. Combined with your movement spaces, you'll also be faced with enemies to tackle. As you eliminate monsters that lurk in the darkness, open chests and gather loot, and find your way through the dungeon, you'll also collect additional cards. It's actually quite the accessible experience, especially for players who wouldn't normally be interested in this type of game.
Unfortunately, playing on an iPhone or other small screen isn't exactly optimal. I could see this game being great on an iPhone 6 Plus, but the iPhone 5s screen results in tiny text, small play areas, and teeny tiny cramped dialogue boxes that make navigating and equipping items quite frustrating. Turning the camera and maneuvering is done simply enough, but be advised that the small screen size of your phone will be a deterrent when it comes to seeing and being able to read everything that's pertinent to gameplay.
Card Dungeon is an interesting take on what could have been just another boring dungeon crawler, with a fantastic premise, addictive gameplay, and gorgeous visuals. If you're looking to get started within the realm of roguelikes, this whimsical title could be a fantastic entry ticket.