Sep 19, 2012

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Diehard Dungeon Review

Diehard Dungeon Review

Diehard Dungeon is a roguelike game featured in the third annual Indie Game Uprising. While its look and feel is instantly appealing to older gamers, the sometimes punishing difficulty associated with the genre may turn potential players off. This is unfortunate because if players can look past its genre and status as an indie game, they’ll find one of the best experiences on the Xbox Indie Game marketplace.

For those unfamiliar, roguelikes feature randomly generated areas to explore and typically upon death players must restart their journey from scratch. Combined with the random drops of items and weapons, luck can play a major factor in whether a player succeeds or not. Diehard Dungeon doesn’t differ from what’s expected and honestly it didn’t need to. This single-player only affair starts off in some unknown dungeon with the only task being to escape. Along the way players equip a sword and meet up with a “companion chest” which aids them by holding their loot and upgrading to assist in battle. Through the journey players will encounter a variety of enemies, random loot, different environments and monstrous boss battles. As stated before, everything seems par for the course but is done incredibly well.

It wouldn’t have been surprising to play Diehard Dungeon and assume that it was an XBLA title. The production value is surprisingly high including a decent sized quest, a variety of enemies and an above average overall feel to the experience. The hard work and effort put in shined throughout my playthroughs and it was apparent that the developers took their time to provide a very enjoyable game. Controls were responsive with everything mapped out simple enough involving only a handful of buttons. The animation was fluid and the music itself complimented the various areas that I explored. In fact, regardless of how crazy the action got onscreen with dozens of projectiles and enemies present, the game never once lagged. There were times that action got a little too hectic with random hazards, enemies, and the presence of projectiles, but never nearly to the point that the game seemed unfair.

It’s actually pretty surprising how much was crammed into this Xbox LIVE Indie game. Large boss battles, upgradeable weapons and items, a variety of enemies and traps, and branching paths all await those who start the campaign. To top things off, the developers have included a twin-stick side-game including worldwide leaderboards and a sign saying “under construction” which leads me to believe there’s even more in store for future updates. Upon completing the campaign players can leave back a “champion” essence to either assist or hamper other players journeys which is a nice community driven touch. Although I’ve beaten the game twice I still have more to explore including finding the “Dungeon Master” and unlocking a couple more weapons. This kind of value is hard to find in an Xbox indie game and hopefully other developers will take notice and follow suit. It’d be easy to read the above and make the assumption that I took no issues with the game. Make no mistake though, this game is a solid must-buy and worth far more then the asking price but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few minor gripes.

For starters, the variety of enemies is decent, but their patterns and attacks are often predictable or too similar to each other. A vast majority of them go kamikaze on either you or your companion chest while others just full-on rush completely oblivious to any impending hazards. Also, while the bosses are large and somewhat imposing, they range from quite challenging to almost insultingly easy. Upon meeting your first boss you are gifted an explosive cannon which can be used from a distance on nearly every enemy. With the aid of your new firearm, bosses become cannon fodder and the battles become a tad redundant. Each boss is varied enough in their attacks but the fact that each battle results in you firing a shot and circling around their counters is a little disappointing. Lastly, after a playthrough or two, the game becomes a little too easy and can feel a tad short. Perhaps I may have just gotten some lucky drops but the game becomes a little too generous with their extra hearts. Near the end of the fourth level, I was walking around with over a dozen hearts even though the game only starts you with five. A harder difficulty would be appreciated perhaps in the next update. Overall, these gripes shouldn’t be enough to deter you from buying this excellent game.

Diehard Dungeon is by far one of my favorite Xbox LIVE Indie Games. The one-manned developer Tricktale has done a wonderful job in creating not only a great download, but an incredible value in this dungeon crawler. With solid controls, an ever-changing quest, tons to unlock, and the appeal of potential future content, there really is no reason not to download Diehard Dungeon. While the campaign isn’t the lengthiest, Tricktale is looking to support the game post launch with new content for everything from abilities to enemies ensuring some major replay value. If for nothing else, spend the paltry 80 MSP ($1) to support this hard working developer so that he can continue making solid titles like Diehard Dungeon. 

Diehard Dungeon
Platform: Xbox Live Indie Games
Genre: Action & Adventure/ Roguelike
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Developer: Tricktale Games
ESRB Rating: Violence: 2/3 Sex: 0/3 Mature Content 2/3
MSRP: 80 MSP ($1)