Dungeon Defiler by The Game Kitchen aims to be an “addictive dungeon crawler”. With far too much reliance on luck, repetitive gameplay and a paper-thin plot, it is sadly more of a chance-based plodder.
Set in a cookie-cutter fantasy realm, you play the part of a solo adventurer, traversing the land and embarking on quests within several dungeons scattered across the game’s map.
Each dungeon has an ancient and terrible evil at its heart, and your goal is to find and defeat it, fighting your way through the ranks of dungeon-dwellers which stand in your way. As you gain experience and level up, additional dungeons containing more challenging foes are unlocked, leading up to a final confrontation against a great dark force threatening the land.
So far, so promising. However, the unchallenging mechanics and absence of strategy result in a game which quickly becomes a bit of a slog with little incentive to keep on defiling those dungeons.
Although claims are made that dungeons and foes are randomly generated, this results in little more than small squares appearing in slightly different positions on a simplified map representing the dungeon you are currently delving into. Each time you tap on a square, one of three things happen: more, identical squares are revealed; a snatch of flavor text is displayed; or an enemy is encountered.
You quickly realise the map is meaningless. There is no concept of movement or variety: you merely tap squares with a question mark on them until you eventually meet the dungeon’s boss. The background text displayed is mostly irrelevant and brief (sometimes thankfully so, as translations can sometimes be a little on the odd side), and there are no puzzles or clues to piece together here.
All of this would be forgivable if the combat was fun. Sadly however, fights are little more than another exercise in random square tapping – with strategy starting and stopping with deciding when to use a health potion or an ‘armor repair unit’.
Each combat involves you choosing to flip a set number of face down cards. Each card has a symbol on it, corresponding to an action: a successful strike, a magic attack, a miss, a blow from the enemy, etc. Your level, weapon and armor have an effect on the amount of damage dealt and received, and two meters build up each turn allowing you to unleash special attacks when filled (though all they do is increase the amount of damage you deal).
The biggest issue is that there is zero skill involved here. The cards are placed randomly, meaning all you are doing is tapping and hoping for a good result. There is a semi-useful ‘reveal cards’ feature which shows you the symbols on the reverse of the cards (obviously, you can only use this a limited number of times), and a completely irrelevant ‘shuffle cards’ feature, which allows you to swap one set of random cards for another, to no great advantage.
In short, combat is more basic than a game of rock, scissors, paper. In fact, it’s more like a game of rock, rock, rock: and is about as fun as that sounds.
Dungeon Defiler’s one saving grace is its presentation. Enemies are comparitively original for the fantasy genre, with a gothic undead tone, and the static artwork used is striking and unique. Sadly, this isn’t really enough to save the game from its other failings.
Dungeon Defiler at least has the decency to be free (though potions and other bonuses are available as in-game purchases). Beyond that and some relatively original artwork, there isn’t really much treasure to be found in these particular dungeons.