|Multiplayer:||Game Center Leaderboards only|
|Universal App:||Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)|
|Purchase for iPhone:||Use link below to purchase universal app|
|Purchase for iPad:||
GD Star RatingDungelot 2,
NOTE: This game originally came out in March of this year, and the Internet as a whole was so upset at the egregious use of IAP that the developers Red Winter pulled it from the App Store less than 48 hours later. The review that follows was initially written after that initial release but has been updated to reflect the changes Red Winter has made.
First released in February of last year, Dungelot was a unique hybrid of roguelike and tile-based boardgame – call it the Minesweeper of dungeon crawling – a game that could be physically implemented with a couple hundred random tiles, but that works much better in digital form. Slightly more than a year later, Dungelot 2 has arrived, bringing its offbeat humor to the free-to-play model. Is it time to delve?
D2 casts you in the familiar role of dungeon-crawling hero. The Warrior class is available for play initially; other classes can be unlocked after sufficient grinding and advancement. Each level of the dungeon is presented as a 5×6 grid of tiles, with one tile being the dungeon door. You can initially access any tile adjacent to the door; on subsequent moves, you can access any tile that isn’t locked by a monster or blocked by an unflipped tile or a pit.
Tiles can contain chests, magic spells, altars, health, treasure, traps, items, totems (terrible things which make monsters stronger) or monsters. When a monster is revealed, it locks up all the adjacent tiles that have not yet been flipped; the only way to access them is to vanquish the beast. Additionally, one of the monsters will contain the key to open the door and descend to the next level. If a totem comes out, tapping it will destroy it, provided you have 3 mana; if you don’t, it’ll trigger every time you attack any monster on that floor.
Spells, it should be noted, are not inventory items; each scroll simply remains on the floor where it was uncovered, and can be cast at any time by tapping on it – assuming you have the 3 mana necessary to pay for it. With all the ways to deplete mana, you’d think that it would be typical to exhaust your meager supply almost immediately, and you’d be right. Fortunately, there are taverns every 5 levels where you can buy more; unfortunately, doing so almost always means that you can’t upgrade your stats between delves, so most of the time the spells will be sitting there, well beyond your reach as you must save your mana to eliminate the blasted totems and creature abilities.
Combat is a simple affair of tapping on a revealed monster. It will take damage based on…some background process that isn’t revealed; the amount of damage it takes is not consistent. Each monster has a single, unified stat that represents both its hitpoints and the damage it will due to you; additionally, some monsters have timers that count down turns, and they attack you whenever this timer hits to zero (it will then loop around to its initial value). Monsters also occasionally throw out special abilities which makes them more powerful; like totems, these can be dismissed, but only if you have 3 mana to spend.
D2 has a lot of charm, and the graphics have been overhauled substantially since the first go round. Dungelot’s graphics were serviceable but basic; D2 looks overall much more polished and professional.
Most elements of the game can be defined with a tap-hold. Monsters, for instance, will pull up page with their stats and any special abilities they possess; tap-holding a spell in your inventory quickly defines its effect. Note that English does not appear to be the developers’ first language; this wouldn’t be an issue, except that they don’t seem to have found a proofreader who IS fluent.
The free-to-play aspects of the game are not a welcome change. Where the first game came with 3 classes unlocked by default, here only the Warrior is initially available; to unlock the Mercenary and Wizard, you must clear the first and second dungeons by surviving for 25 levels, which will be impossible your first several delves. You can slowly upgrade your health and initial armor and mana over time, but ultimately these upgrades are little more than a way to force you to spend gold (which the game is happy to sell you) and will not particularly help you until you have upgraded them significantly, which will take time (or money). Additionally there is a separate meat currency; it costs meat to enter a dungeon, regardless of how many levels you endure, and it regenerates fairly slowly – though you can always by more.
It is, due to all of the forces arrayed against you, almost impossible to survive your first dungeon without using several Runes. Runes can be used both to resurrect your character upon your inevitable demise, or to activate the rune gates that appear every 10 levels and allow you to restart your next delve from that level. Unlike gold, which you accrue as you adventure, or meat, which regenerates however slowly, the ONLY way to obtain Runes appears to be to buy them.
D2 is a frustrating game to review. The gameplay has improved on its predecessor in many ways, and the audio and graphical overhauls are fantastic, but the free to play monster that is currently the defining experience of so much of the app store gets in the way. The limitations on spells, items, and stats advancement all feel very artificial. What makes matters worse is that Red Winter originally pulled the game because of complaints about the free to play nature of it, and have managed to come back with a game that, if anything, implements it in a way that is even MORE annoying than before.
The original game had a free demo that could be upgraded to the full experience, a fantastic compromise that still gives you the penetration of a free game with the customer satisfaction of a full unlock without arbitrary limits. Some sort of $3-5 unlock would have made this game an absolute must-buy; as it is, the free to play elements result in something that isn’t annoying to play but is not fun enough to be worth pursuing. You will probably find it essentially impossible to get to that 25th level without a Rune, and you’re just as likely to find it impossible to get that Rune without a purchase. An initial investment is perfectly reasonable; being asked to infinitely pay to play the game is not.
Red Winter has committed the most egregious sin this side of Dungeon Keeper – they took a fun game, shoehorned in a terrible free to play system, then made the free to play system worse instead of fixing it – all while still maintaining the horrible English that marked the first iteration of this cash grab. The original Dungelot is still a fun game, and it’s a good thing to, since the sequel isn’t worth the download.