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Legend of Dungeon Review: Delving Deeper Into the Bowels of El Diablo

Simple at first glance, but sophisticated at closer inspection, Legend of Dungeon is filled with pure charm and goodness, that is difficult to come by regardless of whether you are triple-AAA or indie. This may come as a result of the love from the self-described, "husband-and-wife" development team that is Robot Loves Kitty. Legend of Dungeon features a great heart, but it also contains an addictive,and challenging gameplay experience.

LoD features a fantastic art style that oozes retro charm. Simplistic character models and environments complement the dynamic shaded pixel art, dynamic shadows, and dynamic soundtrack that changes as the game progresses and as enemies perish, wonderfully. Character animations are a bit stiff, but they present themselves well according to the game's spirit. The music system sounds great with chip tunes layered over one another. This can create some memorable tunes as you dungeon delve, but there is no way of listening to it again. It isn't a solid song that you can always go back to and listen to. During the NES days, you would play a specific Mega Man level to get that song that you loved playing to. LoD on the other hand is entirely randomized, which works in the game's favor, but also underminds the idea of a game soundtrack, because it doesn't have the benefit of a complete one.

LoD is a sidescrolling, RPG, rogue-like. Featuring 26 floors of dark, dank, randomized, dungeon to explore, filled with traps, monsters, and items that you can go at in local four player cooperative gameplay if you so choose. When you are not attacking monsters with sword swings you are solving puzzles, pulling switches, inventory managing, and item gathering.  Items specifically are the reason the game becomes addictive. You are given a lantern, some beer, a couple of apples, and an ordinary long sword to start, but in my numerous playthroughs I collected plasma ball hats, flame swords, and a tome that gave me the ability to throw glowing skulls. This items of course are all backed by the randomized dungeon layouts as well, creating a very ominous, cool, and dangerous atmosphere. 

The game though is smart about information conveyed to the player. It's very simple to use and understand. You need only to concern yourself about health, experience, defense, and attack. This works in the game's favor as the rest of the experience is experimenting with items, specifically hats, which usually have a secret stat bonus, drinking potions and fighting enemies rather than being hampered by an overabundance of stat info. Inventory UI could be a bit better however, as you are having to manually, move to each item, one at a time, and looking at the stats, at a unnecessarily slow pace. Jumping also feels a bit off, probably due to spacial reasons, given the camera angle the game opts for.

Given the over-saturation of rogue games, Legend of Dungeon surprised me because of how refreshing it was. Perhaps it is because unlike other rogue games, because of their ever-changing landscapes, they aren't ever able to establish a consistent tone and atmosphere. LoD does however, and it's a world I want to stay in, battling enemies from different indie game hits, and eagerly anticipating the next room fraught with terror around the dark corner of the dank corridor.



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