The roguelike genre constantly charms us with their inventiveness. Case in point – Diehard Dungeon from Tricktale, an appealing dungeon romp that introduces a quirky sidekick and weapon combo, makes creative use of randomness, and hands you a platter full of lovely retro RPG-like graphics.
Originally released for XBox Live in Sep 2012, Diehard Dungeon finally made its way to the PC when it was launched on 19 Apr at Desura. This was followed by a release at Gamersgate on 7 Jun 2013; you can also click on the image to the left to take a closer look at the user reviews over there [Editor – don’t just take our word for it].
Continually being updated by the development team over at Tricktale, fans of roguelike games will rejoice at having the chance to dish out major mayhem and grievous hurt on mischievous baddies and nasty boss monsters in Diehard Dungeon. And, all in glorious real-time, gasp…
Take it from us – this game is fun!
What you get
There are essentially two game modes in Diehard Dungeon – Play and Mayhem. The former mode features a procedurally generated dungeon room generator that will take you through some intense hack and slash action against an interesting mix of bad guys, beasts and bosses. The latter mode, you could call it an ingenious mini-game in itself, is more like a three-minute slugfest where all you do is avoid getting hit while shooting away at ever replenishing random enemies in an ever-changing environment; do well, and you make it onto the leaderboards as a Mayhem Champion.
Most of us are however here for the main game – the dungeon romp. As it’s Game Over if you get killed in Diehard Dungeon, it pays to be extra careful. Your hero is equipped with a sword and a hand cannon as his main choice of weapons. The sword is quite a weak thing; you can swing away with all your might, but you will find yourself getting hit quite often by enemies who possess some rather interesting attack patterns. The hand cannon on the other hand is quite handy. Being a directional weapon however, it does tend to be slightly more complicated to employ.
Luckily you won’t be all by yourself in Diehard Dungeon; you will be accompanied by a rather interesting sidekick – a magical treasure chest who will be following you around like an obedient dog. There are occasions when the treasure chest will go running away in fear, and being the nice master that you are, you must fight to get it back. Because if you don’t, you will not be able to pick up all the nice shiny baubles that gets dropped on the ground.
Dungeon dressing include containers that hide gold coins, traps triggered by obvious pressure plates that you must avoid, and portals waiting to be opened up via some trigger condition – like killing all enemies in the room or unlocking the door to the next room by inserting a key in the wall. You will obviously be finding a lot of white keys, but there is also the uncommon heart gem which awards you health, special upgrades for your hero (and magical treasure chest), and the ultra-rare golden keys (you need ten of these for a special ending). There are also special treasure chests in the game where you activate a slot machine that will reward you with a special boost, random treasure or nothing at all.
Monsters are quite imaginative and plentiful. We have seen the typical bad guy who wants only to kill you, another guy who goes pirouetting like a ballet dancer (because of a pot on his head), a fat guy who is quite tough to defeat, zombie like undead, small creatures that will either harass you or hound your treasure chest, whirling thingamajigs, mushrooms, and more. Bosses however are the ones to look out for – they are tough to defeat, but definitely doable.
We got us quite a lot of fun from Diehard Dungeon. This game can be quite addictive because of several things: 1) the random nature of the dungeon means no two visits are ever the same, 2) the ultra-hard difficulty level resulting in a total erasure of your character upon death may frustrate you, but you are quickly placed back at the start of the dungeon, ready to embark on yet another trip within, 3) the arcade like action gameplay, and 4) the retro style graphics, music and sound effects. All of these add up to make the experience fun.
There are however a few points to gripe about. 1) The procedural randomness can sometimes kill your fun if you encounter several tough dungeon rooms without a single heart gem in sight. 2) Although the game is designed to be short, you can’t save your adventure and reload it later to continue again, 3) The game seems to be quite repetitive after a while… but in truth, it’s all in the luck of the roll; for all you know, the very next corner will present you something you have not seen before.
This then is the beauty of Diehard Dungeon – with the monster action so thick and fast, the retro dungeons oozing so much charm, and a different experience for every visit, it’s hard to deny the fact that a simple package like this is what sets indie games apart from the boring formulaic tripe that disguise themselves as AAA games. It’s kind of like what that simpleton Forrest Gump might say about “a box of chocolates”, where you never know what you’re going to get.
Nothing but ramped-up romping fun!