App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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In Guild of Dungeoneering, you take it upon yourself to make a prestigious facility for the land's finest adventurers after being removed from the Ivory League of Explorers for being 'grossly incompetent.' It's a quirky setup for an absurdly satisfying game that -- while not free from some issues -- feels quite unlike other games in its genre.
Just looking at Guild of Dungeoneeringsets the stage for what the game is all about. It's hand-drawn-on-graph-paper look really helps sell the entire conceit of the game, which is all about building your own adventure from the ground up, including your heroes, the dungeons they quest through, the enemies they face, and the loot they find.
You don't have absolute control over everything though, as your adventurers have their own ideas of where they want to go. That said, you can always change their surroundings to help guide them along to where you want them.
All of this world-building ends up relying on a card-based system. On any given quest, you'll be given an objective, a few dungeon rooms to start with, and a hand of cards. These cards can have rooms, enemies, or money on them. Each turn, you can play up to three cards in this hand before your hero moves. Once they've moved, they'll interact with anything in the same room with them before you are dealt a new hand to begin the process anew.
As a dungeoneer, it is your job to make sure your hero gains enough experience, money, and loot to complete whatever their quest is while avoiding death.
Death is unavoidable
If there's one thing you can expect to do a lot of in Guild of Dungeoneering, it's dying. At the start of the game, you'll be given a lowly hero affectionately known as a chump who is not very good at fighting. You may pass the first couple quests with this hero, but you'll need to recruit other heroes if you want to take on greater challenges. Thankfully, passing quests and dying both earn you gold, which you can use to expand your lowly guild hall into a sprawling facility full of well-equipped heroes.
Speaking of fighting, the combat in Guild of Dungeoneeringis also card-based, with heroes having a preset deck of cards and some passive abilities based on their classes. As you adventure, you'll be able to level up and earn loot to customize your deck, which is the key to making it through some of the game's more challenging dungeons.
Handful of flaws
As is the case with most card and roguelike games, Guild of Dungeoneeringsuffers primarily in the randomness department. There are things you can do to help ensure that your hero is more survivable, but in the end, you can be brought down by just one bad hand.
This issue is relatively minor though, especially since Guild of Dungeoneeringis so dang charming that it's easy to look past its flaws. It's hand-drawn look, clever writing, and excellent soundtrack just make being in its world delightful, even at its most frustrating.
The bottom line
Guild of Dungeoneering isn't a perfect game, but that's part of what makes it so interesting. Its build-your-own-adventure style of roguelike dungeon-crawling is totally unique, and its writing is clever enough that you'll be okay with some of the cheap-feeling deaths you experience.