I’ve always had a soft spot for Dungeon crawlers. Playing the Atari growing up, I had a bit of an obsession with Dungeon Master. A pixelated RPG that allows you to crawl through the depths of dank and dark corridors, killing monsters and overcoming traps and puzzles. There have been plenty of games throughout the years that have used this classic game style as their influence, and the latest game that I’m playing wreaks of old school Dungeon crawling. Pangeon allows you to play the part of one of 4 heroes. You must work your way deeper into the abyss, to cleanse the world around you, and bring some normality to the people who live near this wretched hell hole.
Developed and published by Skrypious and Ultimate Games S.A this casual Dungeon adventure contains roguelike elements. This is likely to put most hardcore gamers off, as all items and progress will be lost if you are unlucky enough to lose your life. The gameplay spans 4 levels, where you will encounter 3 monstrous bosses. Each of the levels is split into several stages, and as you progress you are given the chance to purchase items and potions from vendors.
The characters at your disposal are; Warrior, Wizard, Archer, and Thief. This choice adds a distinct RPG element and affects how you approach the combat throughout. Depending on who you choose, you will be restricted to use of melee, ranged, or magical weapons. Melee is increased with strength, ranged must be supplied by arrows, and magic is topped up with mana. I went down the warrior route; it appeared the most straightforward, and I love hacking my way to the goal. Unfortunately, though, defence wasn’t his strong point, and blocking attacks were pointless. I tanked my way through the battles and kept my fingers crossed that I didn’t get hit enough to die.
Once you’ve accepted the limitations of your hero, you are going to want to upgrade them, and their equipment quickly. The aforementioned vendors are key to improving your gear, with new; armour, weapons and magical paraphernalia available. Sell goods and scavenge money by finding chests and killing everything in sight. Don’t get too excited, the choices are limited, as is the ability to gather gold. It’s a bit of a chore trying to obtain enough to kit yourself out correctly, and sacrifices have to be made.
As with all RPG and adventure titles, XP is gained as you defeat each enemy you face. Gaining enough will level you up, which strengthens you, makes you quicker, or better with your magic spells. There are only a few monsters available in each stage, so levelling up is slow, but this ensures that the gameplay difficulty remains balanced through to the end.
Talking about difficulty, you have 3 to choose from, and 2 game modes to select. You have; easy, medium, and hard. Your gameplay is split between the story (where the main action takes place), and arena. The arena is a wave-based scenario that gradually gets harder. You must survive 25 attacks and trust me when I say that it’s brutal. I’ve yet to complete it, and the achievement tracker shows that I’m not alone in struggling.
The concept behind this game is simple. Make your way from a portal to a door, survive the horrors you encounter, and then overcome the boss. Improve your skills and equipment en route, and exit the Dungeon having cleared all the evil. Though it was basic, I loved hacking at ghosts and goblins. Shooting bat’s out of the air with my bow and smiting my foes with a magical wand. It’s the definition of casual Dungeon crawler, and it was fantastic.
The world you explore has a dark and eerie look. The tight rooms and never-ending corridors make you feel claustrophobic and lost. When you first start your adventure, each stage appears unique, but as you familiarise yourself with your surroundings, you soon realise that each stage is quite repetitive, and the lack of design flair is disappointing. It left me wanting more, however; I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the graphics. It still kept that classic pixelated look, but it was given a modern-day aesthetic. All the textures were smooth, and the edges weren’t so rough. Though the developers could have done more with the stage design, I couldn’t fault them for how they made the game look, and the lack of issues I faced.
To continue with the old school theme, the sound effects that are used are brash and as retro as I’ve heard. The twang of your bow, the swish of your sword, and the non-descript noise when you cast a magical spell. It was glorious. The only thing to ruin it was the repeated use of one music track to support the Dungeon crawling action. As the game is short, it wasn’t so noticeable, but if you played this repeatedly, you’d be driven insane.
One aspect that was off was the control setup. It was clumsy, and the hitboxes for each different creature was hard to work out. If you mix this in with the lack of defensive qualities of your character, then this makes it more of a hack and slash title than the RPG adventure title that the developers had hoped to create. This could have been overcome with some minor tweaks, and I hope that this happens. It would make playing it much more tactical, and enjoyable.
So, with these minor issues, is there enough to make you want to return? Yes, there is. The replay value is found within the arena mode. The main story is short, and the difference in approach with any of the characters is so minimal that you won’t gain much by replaying it. A small achievement list is challenging to complete, as you must be crowned champion of the arena to unlock the 100% status. All I’m going to say is, best of luck if you try to get the accolade.
Pangeon isn’t a game that will jump off the shelf for most gamers. It will appeal to those who like a retro casual experience that contains a small amount of challenge. The lack of depth within the RPG aspects will put off players, as will the repetitive nature of the dungeons you explore. Even with all these negative points, I enjoyed my time playing the game, so I would recommend that you buy it, and give it a go. Choose your hero, grab a weapon, and cleanse the world around you. If you don’t do it, then nobody will.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
A casual dungeon crawling experience where one of 4 heroes must overcome the monsters, and cleanse the world around them.
- A relaxed and casual gaming experience.
- Nice modern day twist on the pixelated graphics.
- Retro sound effects match the theme.
- The arena mode increases the replay value.
- Clumsy controls.
- RPG elements lack depth.
- Each stage looks the same.