Epic Dungeon is a game that doesn’t make any bones about what it is trying to be. Eyehook Games has not included any fancy graphics or even attempted to shoehorn a narrative into this title which was recently released as part of the Indie Games Uprising. Instead, what they have done is distilled the dungeon crawler to its purest form, a fact which will delight fans of rougelikes but will limit its appeal to players who were already fans of the genre.
Epic Dungeon’s stripped down presentation starts right from the very first time you lay eyes on the game. This dungeon crawler latest title takes its presentation cues from 8-bit RPGs of yore, meaning expect some blocky graphics and somewhat repetitive MIDI tunes. Rather than kill the feeling of the game though, the technical elements serve to enhance the retro feel that permeates the game.
Similarly, the gameplay mechanics practically scream retro. Your trip through the 50 in-game levels follows a simple pattern: enter the dungeon level, clear out enemies, collect gold to buy items, repeat. Should you die, its game over and you have to start back at level one, leaving only a tombstone to remember your efforts for future crawls. The structure is deliciously simple and becomes near hypnotic, compelling you to venture into just one more level before shutting the game off.
When you first enter each level of the dungeon most of it will be obscured, forcing you to navigate through poison fields, spike traps and a variety of enemies in order to find the ladder to the next level. Upon defeating the first wave of uniquely spawned opponents, foes will continue to respawn, allowing you to level up your character further to ensure safety at the next level. This type of infinite enemy spawning is highly appreiciated as it not only allows you to delve further, the level grinding it occasionally genders only adds to the rhythm created by the structure.
If there is one weak point of Eyehook Game's rougelike though, it is this combat. All fighting is mapped to the left stick, the same one used for movement. This makes combat occasionally feel non-interactive, almost as if you are just going through the motions in order to reach your destination rather than fighting to gain levels or gold. Although the addition of special rechargeable abilities that allow you to freeze and poison your enemies helps to alleviate this feeling, it is never fully done away with.
That’s pretty much all there is to Epic Dungeon with the exception of the ability to choose multiple character classes. This rougelike certainly won’t be winning any awards for prettiest game on the block, but its pared down nature shows how much fun can be had by distilling a genre down to its core components. Epic Dungeon is far too narrow to bring new gamers to the dungeon crawling party, but it is well executed enough to give fans of the genre far more than 80 MSP worth of gameplay.