Review: Dungelot: Shattered Lands

Many years ago a curious application appeared on the internet.  The virtual mad scientist’s laboratory created a composite image of what the offspring of two people could potentially look like based on an individual photograph of two individuals, where same gender and interspecies breeding were not out of the question.  The appearance of these unholy abominations ranged forcing the viewer to engage in battle against the lunch uprising to requiring the need for neonatal exorcism.  The same concept of seemingly incompatible sources resulting in the creation of a new entity is not uncommon in the gaming world.  Sometimes these multi-genre experiments result in something only the mad scientist playing godmother could love, while other times the results are surprisingly pleasant.  Dungelot: Shattered Lands fits the latter category, which is surprising considering its lineage can be traced back to a brief clandestine affair where age meant absolutely nothing between Rogue Legacy and Minesweeper.

The game begins with an introductory sequence filled with the off kilter sense of humor one would generally expect from a game published by tinyBuild.  Initially the paladin is the only available hero at your disposal, but other characters such as a vampire can be unlocked as the story progresses.  The first dungeon is incredibly easy, but that is only to acclimate the player to the game mechanics, the challenge increases drastically once your hero ventures into the other dungeons.  As is the case with most roguelikes, death is a fairly common occurrence.  Each dungeon has a set number of floors but a return visit to a dungeon will have a different layout.  There are some near constants, usually every five floors there is a small shop to replenish provisions and a bed where you can exchange food for hit points.  Treasure location, enemies, minigames such an Easter Island themed variant of Simon and a likely rigged dungeon crawler version of three card monte appear at random intervals in this quest.  The objective of each floor is to find the key that unlocks the gate that leads to the next level.


Each floor is a grid, and clicking on a tile uncovers what is on that square, whether it be a monster, trap, or treasure.  Tiles may only be accessed if they are adjacent to ones that are already uncovered.  It is not necessary to uncover every tile on every floor, nor is it necessary to slay every monster on every floor.  Doing so can lead to extra loot, but more often than not a completion driven approach will result in an untimely death and having to start back on the bottom floor with all items acquired in the dungeon being removed from inventory.  The only thing that is retained from a dungeon is gold, which can be used to purchase new weapons and armor from the armory as well as permanent hit point and starting armor bonuses from the mansion, once it is unlocked.  Purchasing these upgrades make progressing through the game a lot easier, though it is doubtful one will ever attain death proof status.

In addition to the usual concerns of maintaining hit points and armor points, food is an issue as well because no one wants to climb up 30 floors in a tower on an empty stomach.  Food, like most items in this game, can be found randomly by uncovering titles or purchased from the goblin run store, though no food comes from a source that seems like it would be safe to eat or even remotely hygienic.  The random generated nature of the game does allow for random sources of amusement to appear throughout of the game, one of the better examples of this is when the paladin asks for divine assistance and a Monty Python style hand of God comes down and smashes an enemy with the pointer finger.

Closing Comments:

Dungelot is an enjoyable roguelike that can provide a challenge to players of almost any skill level without becoming frustrating.  The twisted humor tinyBuild is known for combined with addictive easy to pick up, difficult to master gameplay makes this title a worthwhile addition to any roguelike fan’s library, especially ones with a penchant for puzzle games such as Minesweeper.

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