As much as I strive and adore the games that capture my heart and imagination with storytelling and worldbuilding, there’s something to be said for a game that hooks purely on addictive properties alone. There’s a real reason that mobile gaming continues to flourish: people like having distracting, entertaining software that can hold their attention for a few minutes at a time. The fanbase of the Nintendo Switch sometimes likes to demonise these games, but the prejudice is very unfairly posited; we should only hate the games that are, frankly, empty. Yet if you can craft a game that’s as simplistic as they come but keeps you coming back for more and more, willingly and excitedly, then rejoice in your creation, because it’s a damn good one. Firebrand Games should be incredibly proud of their title, Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon.
There’s really no storyline in Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon or C.A.R.D. In this game, you’re an adventurer (interchangeable as a man or woman at any moment), and you’re seeking to plumb the depths of the aforementioned Andy’s dungeon, which, as you may have guessed, is procedurally generated. The entirety of the game is going into the dungeon, fighting against as many floors of monsters, traps and surprises as you can, and exiting before you get overwhelmed. You have limited chances to basically buy a second life for yourself if the going gets too tough and you get knocked out, and dying will usually result in you losing most of the loot you were carrying as well as the companions with whom you were traveling. It’s a serious risk/rewards system, as most of the great gains from the adventuring are only achievable from long sequences of battles.
Let’s dive into what makes the game a real treat for those involved. From the start, Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon has a unique take on the dungeon crawling formula. For one, all of your companions take the form of cards, which have different properties and rarities. You start with all commons, which range from a ranger and a thief to a heal-bot (a robot that heals you for a bit at the end of each battle), a floating healing potion (single use, saves your life when you’re knocked down to zero), and other objects and weapons that act as enchanted, semi-autonomous beings. You can take three cards with you at a time into the dungeon, and each card can be upgraded through spending coins to make it more powerful and increase their damage/healing properties, as well as increase the chance for them to inflict popular status afflictions (stun, poison, bleed, etc) upon the enemy. You have a good variety of cards at the beginning (albeit all commons), and you can find or purchase more as the game moves forward.
Additionally, your hero in C.A.R.D. is the most powerful and most vulnerable person in the whole party. The hero is able to buy weapons and armour throughout the game, gaining access to better and more powerful gear the deeper you delve into the Dungeon. I haven’t come close to unlocking it all, as there are some pieces that state, clearly, they will be available after clearing level 120, which is…imposing. Like, it’s a daunting concept to consider, especially when your first dungeon crawl will almost certainly bottom out before floor ten. The hero does gain experience, though it’s on a sliding scale; you’ll get so much more for defeating enemies at a higher level than you, but get next to nothing for the tiny ones. Given that the first 20or so floors tend to stay in the single digits of enemy levels, it’s a very fast rise to level ten, followed by a very touch-and-go manner until you make a breakthrough and are able to dive deeper, usually with some assistance (more on that in a moment).
The control scheme is brilliant, though I imagine more intrepid players will get frustrated quite quickly. Everything about Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon is one touch, and one touch only. You don’t control the companion cards: they act based on algorithms and if you’ve leveled them enough. Your attacks all come down to a spinning roulette wheel, and you need to stop the arrow in order to pull off your attack. Land in the green; attacks proceed as normal. Hit the small light green slice and you land a critical, as well as activating a second wheel which could give you a DOUBLE critical, dealing enough damage to one-shot most enemies even a bit above your range. If you hit the red, though, not only does the hero miss, but the companion cards refuse to act in any way. The miss is truly critical, and can leave you feeling utterly hopeless. In that same aspect, though, when the enemy misses, you want to dance with joy: they’ve fumbled a golden opportunity, and you can swoop in and really take advantage.
Also, the overall design of C.A.R.D. is, in a word, delightful. Each of the enemies tries to take a fun and somewhat cheeky take on traditional dungeon enemies. While you’ve got givens like trolls, test goblins and jelly cubes (because gelatinous cube is probably copyrighted), you’ve also got fun offshoots, like pizza golems, medubros (bro medusas, of course) and wolf-shark hybrid things. There’s a lightness to the art style that feels a bit rounder and sillier without being an outright parody of things: there’s humor mixed in with the real approach at original worldbuilding. Plus, I love that random encounters are of the same vein. Sure, there’s tons of monsters that you encounter, but you also find the treasure chest that might be a mimic, the witch who could cast a helpful enchantment or a debilitating curse, and the creepy twins from The Shining who might help you or hurt you. There’s even a pug that will rejoice in being petted by you (and fully heal your health, sweet!) or try and fight you (usually not a massive encounter). I didn’t mind grinding from the bottom-up almost every time because it’s a fun world to be in, and the encounters themselves take mere seconds to deal with, especially when you’re stronger.
What keeps the whole of Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon in check is the carefully constructed coin system. Most of the game is tied into caveats that you need to expend coins on in order to circumvent, and coins are gotten through dungeon crawling. One of the best things I did was to save up enough cash to get an epic booster pack (because Andy sells card packs as well as equipment), and I got three decent rares, one epic card and a common. That epic card, a massive dude named Gronk, did as much damage as the hero, effectively doubling my firepower. However, once you go on a run, the companion cards you had go into cooldown mode: you can’t use them again for a period of time unless you pay to unlock them, and Gronk was certainly more expensive than the Scroll of Dirty Words (a common that sometimes stuns). Also, you can only choose your cards manually on occasion: the rest of the time, it’s a shuffle luck-of-the-draw, and you can pay for a second shuffle or (naturally) pay a lot more to manually choose. You have to keep starting from level one unless you pay per ten floors: 1000 gold to start at level 11, 2000 for floor 21…you’re seeing the expensive pattern, I take? Weapons and armour are pretty pricey to obtain after the initial set are released, and upgrading them also takes a king’s ransom. If Andy didn’t have plenty of replay rewards available, the whole thing would be too expensive to even enjoy! Thankfully, not only is there the usual “log in every day to get a prize” deal, you have a daily quest to accomplish, plus other smaller quests that crop up: usually hit so many enemies or collect so many trinkets. It’s by no means an easy feat, but it’s also not unbearable.
When it all comes around, I sincerely loved playing Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon. It’s one of those perfect time killing, space-filling games, and it plays like an absolute dream. Touch screen or single button, it takes next to no effort to multitask with this game, enjoying other media while whacking the hell out of squigs and drakes and God knows what else. The load between floors is negligible, there’s so much to unlock, and the asking price for the game is incredibly reasonable given the high quality of the art and the number of cards to collect. Plus, it’s quite smart: with no save options in sight, the game automatically remembers where you are, so you can even quit mid-dungeon, go play a different game, and come back to find that Andy remembers exactly who you were facing and on what floor. It’s a delight and a pleasure, and I highly and wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone looking for a more relaxing, enjoyable, less strategic dungeon crawl.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
The roguelite, dungeon crawling, card collecting game that will capture your attention for hours at a time with intuitive, simple gameplay.