Thursday 19 January 2017

Guild of Dungeoneering review: Roguish charm on the cards

Guild of Dungeoneering (PC/Mac); rating: 8.5/10; age 7+

Published 04/09/2015 | 13:48

Guild of Dungeoneering
Guild of Dungeoneering

IRISH developer Colm Larkin hit on a gem of an idea in this card battler with a twist or three. The hand-drawn art style immediately establishes a charming appeal that sets it apart from other dungeon crawlers and the sound of credible Irish accents is a welcome delight.

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Larkin quit his software-engineering job in 2014 to devote himself full-time to the project, which was born out of a game jam. With a little help from Enterprise Ireland and three other developers, his labour of love bore fruit via a Steam release this summer.

Guild of Dungeoneering: kooky hand-drawn art style
Guild of Dungeoneering: kooky hand-drawn art style

Grasping Dungeoneering’s melting pot of concepts takes a little time, though, requiring you to intuit the mechanics of choosing an adventurer, sending him/her to a dungeon – and then learning you have to build the level around him from cards drawn as you battle monsters.

Larkin describes it as a “reverse rogue-like” in that those building cards are randomly generated. There can be several routes to reach your goal of, for instance, the boss room. But you may need to wait several turns before suitable cards enable you to lay down a navigable path.

Guild of Dungeoneering: randomly generated maps
Guild of Dungeoneering: randomly generated maps

Even then, without direct control of the adventurer, it can be frustrating at times because he won’t always follow the most obvious passage. This frequently leads to unnecessary monster battles when he heads the wrong way.

But that was Larkin’s intention from the off and it lends Dungeoneering a distinct flavour that distinguishes it from its pool of influences.

Devoted CCG players may conclude the card game itself can’t compare to the polish and breadth of something like Hearthstone. Yet taken as a whole, the game is a quirky concoction that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

For sheer originality and an engaging depth to the unlockables, Dungeoneering is an impressive debut for Larkin.

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