Ever since FromSoftware released Dark Souls I in 2011, the term ‘Souls-like’ has abounded to and fro across all corners of the internet. The term itself roughly means that the game in question is rogue-like, tough, unforgiving and somewhat thrilling. Because of this newly coined term, an entirely fresh genre of gaming was actually created in honour of the original title they take some inspiration from. Dungeon Souls is one of these fresh faced titles. Alongside this merit is the fact that it’s one of the few games in this category to create its own take on the Souls formula, without trying to actively copy it.
As a top-down dungeon-crawling hack n’ slash RPG, Dungeon Souls excels at making the player feel constantly on edge. Every battle can be your last, along with the addition of traps and enemies that can teleport next to you: it can be a bit much at times. To manage the stress of dungeon delving, a variety of heroes are available for you to master. The basic three heroes (the ones you start off with without having to complete any challenges) give a good sense of where exactly you stand against the hordes within the walls of the dungeon. The Barbarian is the standard hard hitting, damage dealing tank, that is best suited for wading into groups of enemies and wrecking them in no time flat. The Archer is, naturally, best suited to firing at a range, with attacks that wear any target down over time without risk to the player. Finally the Thief covers the ‘specialist’ class of the three, with attacks that confuse mobs and critical damage coming out of their ears.
Beyond these heroes are locked characters, who require specific targets to be met before they before available to use. Challenges such as ‘kill 500 enemies’, ‘kill 100 skeletons in one run’, and ‘kill your first boss’, are some of the more basic requirements to get your hands on even more characters to fight the dungeon with. Since every class has three skills, it leaves room for extremely versatile play even with characters who are good at doing just their job and nothing else. This mixture of skills becomes especially important if you engage the game’s inbuilt local multiplayer function, which allows two players to roam the dungeon at the same time. Despite best efforts to balance most heroes, some still remain a touch more powerful than the rest when certain strategies and items are used.
Particularly the Necromancer and Brawler stand out as overpowered. Due to the range of the Necromancer’s skills and the damage it deals, every room can be cleared with ease from a distance. Similarly with the Brawler, but from the opposite end of the scale. The skill ‘charge’ allows the player to teleport to enemies, deal extreme damage, then teleport away again without a worry. Despite these anomalies everything else feels relatively fair.
Your only goal in Dungeon Souls is continue until you’re killed, or alternatively find the exit. To this end, the developers took a page from the books of two other prominent indie titles, Risk of Rain & Nuclear Throne, in order to bolster the inventory of the hero. Every area of the dungeon has at least one shopkeeper who sells items to the player for gold. These items can range from one-time use potions, to artefacts that add innate buffs to your combat prowess. Some of these items also stack with one another, meaning you end up with a greater effect if you manage to collect the same thing two or three times (sometimes to a maximum stack of five).
A large part of Dungeon Souls is spent working round the many traps in order to get access to the entrance seals. These arrow launching, fire throwing, boulder rolling menaces are designed to make your life a pain. They add a level of difficulty that comes with anticipating them as they activate. Unfortunately you cannot use them to kill enemies, which is a real let down. The only real part of the game that lets itself down are the awkward camera controls, that, for some reason, don’t rotate in a full circle. Instead the camera moves round in diamond, rather than a circle.
Dungeon Souls is an inventive addition to the ever-expanding Souls-like genre and is rightfully among the upper echelons of the selection. It’s equal parts charming, frustrating and challenging, with a dash of other games thrown in to make sure it stays creatively interesting. Be sure to bring your gamepad if you want to explore the dungeon.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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