‘Roguelike’ is a term which is thrown around quite a bit in the landscape of modern gaming.
For a game to be defined as a ‘roguelike’ it must fill certain criteria; it must be a dungeon crawl through game levels that are procedurally generated, usually contain turn-based gameplay, employ a tile-based visual aesthetic and permanent death of the player-character must be present.
The majority of ‘roguelikes’ are fantasy-based and derive a great deal of their influence from the Dungeons & Dragons roleplay game. The term ‘roguelike’ is taken from the first game of the genre, 1980’s dungeon crawling game, Rogue. In Rogue, the player-character explores several levels of a dungeon as they seek the ‘Amulet of Yendor’ which is located in the lowest level of the dungeon. It is interesting to note that while being the namesake of the genre, Rogue was not actually the first game to employ the ‘roguelike’ mechanics system but being the most successful and influential, of its time, it earned the title of namesake
One More Dungeon is a 2017 ‘roguelike’ old school FPS, developed and published by Russian dev team, Stately Snail. In OMD you explore levels that take place in dungeons which are decorated using tile-based visuals typical of the genre. In your travels, you encounter over 35 enemy types and are able to utilize 100 plus items and weapons.
You play as a nameless adventurer who needs to progress through multiple dungeons which escalate in difficulty, size, and complexity in order to reach the final dungeon and complete the game successfully.
The game is completed by destroying the obelisk and saving the world from the impending evil which has its eyes set on world domination.
You advance to the next dungeon by finding a ‘seal’, these are found on the bodies of specific enemies and are used at the final door, this is signposted with a purple square featured on the minimap. While moving through the dungeons you encounter all manner of creatures, these include bugs, bats and what appear to be Skyrim-inspired warriors, not to mention shamans.
Each dungeon is peppered with chests and ‘health shrines’, these are used to refill your health bar- health is indicated with a numbered system which rests next to a small heart icon. When you take damage, the number decreases in increments of 100 until it reaches 0 and you die. Upon death, you are greeted with the ‘mutator’ screen, ‘mutators’ are positive/negative alterations which have a range of effects, these may increase your health or increase the number of enemies on a level in order to make the experience more difficult than the default settings allow. These are purchased using points which are gathered throughout gameplay by defeating enemies, finding secrets and completing levels.
During play, you are able to use magic staves – particular wooden structures – which are powered by crystals and ancient artifacts these are found in chests, on bodies and hidden within breakable environmental objects. These have the ability to drive you insane, by reducing your sanity , this is indicated by your ‘mind level’- which is displayed onscreen above your health bar and works in largely the same way; however, this bar is coloured orange as opposed to the red of the health bar.
Your ‘mind points’ level can be increased by finding “Altars of the Mind”, however, they are drastically reduced by using artefacts.
Every dungeon has unique features such as grindstones, furnaces and water features.
The aesthetic features which a dungeon possesses are based on the type of dungeon in which they are found.
The more medieval traditional dungeons are decorated with shields and coats of arms whereas the wooden ‘homely’ locations feature furniture that would not be out of place in a tile-based survival craft game.
One More Dungeon is visually pleasing, presenting as a tile game using semi-pixelated character models and environmental objects and hazards, the art style is simple and ‘no frills’ but offers just enough colour and texture during play to keep one engrossed. The rooms which you will find yourself fighting through are labyrinthian in their layout and purposefully designed to bamboozle and confuse you. This effect is further achieved with the use of claustrophobic corridors which connect each room to the next, however you will often find yourself walking through a door only to be greeted with a moss-covered stone wall, another door or a short-sighted Shaman who intends to throw stones at you until you die.
The visual design really is where this game shines, unfortunately there are times where you will find yourself phasing into a wall you didn’t know existed or grappling with the inability to look up due to the low encroaching ceilings – whether this is by design is unknown but it has to be stated that it does not lend itself to a positive experience.
The game is colourful and charming enough to redeem these flaws to an almost unnoticeable degree.
Video games, especially RPG games, have a great deal in common with movies when it comes to atmosphere, if the soundtrack isn’t right, it really doesn’t matter how good the product looks or plays. Music and sound effects have an impact on the atmosphere we experience when playing a video game, watching a TV show or taking in a movie, One More Dungeon is no exception to this.
As you travel from dungeon to dungeon, you are wrapped in a blanket of subtle twangs, light shakes, and taps of a number of acoustic instruments. The score is calming yet enduring, soft yet enveloping.
From time to time, you will find yourself being lost to the beat only to be surprised by a *thud* of a drum or an unexpected shriek from a surprise violin – it can be quite the ride.
It has been quite some time since I experienced a game where the soundtrack was as interesting and dynamic as the gameplay which it lends itself to and it truly is a pleasant surprise and departure from the standard grey music to which we have become accustomed.
If there was one criticism to the score, it would be that the overall soundtrack seems to predict exactly how long each dungeon will last as it will begin to loop back onto itself in a rather jarring and predictable way however this is never so noticeable as to pull you away from the immersion of the wonderful world which it helps to create.
Sadly the artistic cohesion falls down when we reach actual gameplay sound effects.
While swinging the various weapons throughout your playthrough, you are subjected small whooshing noises, which upon impact on a surface, that is neither metal or wood, triggers a disappointing *clack* – not exactly the noise one would expect from a blade hitting a stone wall.
The clack transforms into a *clang* if the object is a metal one and so on. The variation of impact noises proves without a shadow of a doubt that the developers cared enough to record/find differing noises, but one also has to wonder why, when choosing such interesting, if a little dated noises for the weapon impacts, wasn’t the same amount of effort put into making the swinging of said weapon more realistic and believable. The sounds of weapons hitting enemies are equally jarring and the response to said weapons I.E the noises the mobs created upon being hit can, at times, be baffling.
Killing a bat is awfully reminiscent of the jumpy sounds which Flicky used to make way back on the Sega and any other enemy just emits a *squelch* which feels as though it should be in another game from another genre.
Lastly, the magic.
When casting a spell, expect not to be wooed and serenaded by Skyrim-esque tones and bangs, One More Dungeon sounds much more like a Free-to-play mobile game, cheap.
I spent a long time with One More Dungeon, admittedly not a huge fan of rogue-likes nor fixed camera experiences, One More Dungeon could be classified as both of these things.
Stock sound effects, the occasional visual anomaly, and an often-repetitive soundtrack are not enough to condemn this wonderful little dungeon roamer, which offers some of the most fun one can currently have at its price point.
It combines ol’ style dungeon play, a simple graphical style and a dated ethos to bring you an interesting little rogue-like that is definitely worth at least a day of your time.
Not often do I keep copies of games which I review, but I will be coming back to this for many days to come.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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