Published on September 29th, 2012 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
Diehard Dungeon Review
Developer: Tricktale Games
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: Roguelike Dungeon-Crawler
Price: 80 MSP ($1)
Marketplace Link: Diehard Dungeon
“Welcome to the dungeon. Those (un)lucky few that are chosen, face great riches and great perils. Good luck! A randomly generated dungeon is created every time you play. Discover the dungeons many secrets and multiple outcomes. Do you have what it takes to survive the dungeon?”
Diehard Dungeon from Tricktale Games is a quirky and enjoyable dungeon crawler. The game makes use of many simple gaming sensibilities that players have picked up throughout the years. Its use of fast-paced action keeps players on their feet, having to make split second decisions in combat and pay attention to the environment around them. Diehard Dungeon was featured in this year’s Indie Games Uprising III and has proven to be one of the most entertaining titles of its kind available on the Xbox Indies Marketplace.
This Xbox Indie utilizes mechanics found in a few genres, such as dungeon-crawler and roguelike, combining elements found in these types of games and bringing a satisfying and surprisingly addicting gameplay experience that anyone can enjoy. Diehard Dungeon is the type of game that anyone can pick up and start playing, without having to sit through long tutorials or learn complex moves. It keeps things simple, which isn’t always something you find in roguelikes or dungeon crawlers.
Diehard Dungeon is a survival test at its core, pitting players against increasingly difficult dungeon levels. They are complete with hazardous traps and tough enemies that range from ankle-biting ghoulies to tough mini-bosses. The boss battles themselves are a great conclusion to each area, and each boss is progressively more difficult than the last. Some of the bosses also possess the traditional old-school mechanic where players have to do certain things to destroy them, and often players can make use of their environment to their favor.
Each level consists of a maze-like area in which players must navigate, eliminating and dodging enemies along the way. There are a few obstacles like crates and boxes that can be destroyed. These often drop treasure, gold and even bonus chests that enact the slot-machine mini game. The overall goal of each level is to find the silver key and place it in the slot to open the exit door, and progress onto the next stage.
The stages themselves can sometimes have traps and hazards, such as slits in the walls the fling arrows, or proximity spears. These hazards can actually come in handy at times, especially when players are being overrun and can use them to destroy annoying enemies to even the odds.
Upon completion of a few stages players take on a Boss. The Bosses each have their own signature names, abilities and appearance, many of which are quite humorous and memorable. The battles aren’t too difficult but are scaled progressively, meaning they get harder and harder the farther players get. After the boss is defeated, players get to choose what area they’d like to play next, which is a nice feature considering many roguelikes don’t let you choose the next stage.
One of my favorite moments in this game is when the Companion Chest is introduced. While venturing in the second or third level, players will save an anthropomorphized chest who screams “HELP!,” and upon saving him, he follows you throughout the rest of the game and collects the treasures that enemies drop. Watching the chest follow your every move in-game is quite hilarious and awesome, and is definitely an original element found in Diehard Dungeon that makes it that much more enjoyable.
Throughout their journey into the dark depths of the dungeon, players can earn specific bonuses to aid them in their bloody quest. These power-up bonuses can range from certain abilities, helping a player in various ways, and are usually passive in nature and always activated. These special bonuses can be earned from the Trap Door mini game, the slot-machine mini game or by collecting ten golden keys which are scattered randomly throughout the stages.
Diehard Dungeon exposes an original visual style that defines Tricktale Games. The game keeps the signature monster-infused environments that are a staple for dungeon crawlers, and also adds in a distinct humorous tone. The graphics seem to be a blend of old-school bit-style pixelation, and keeps that classic early gaming look, that attracts many gamers like myself.
Overall, Diehard Dungeon is a humble game, one that provides a versatile array of gameplay features and mechanics to keep nearly every gamer engaged. Its affordability makes it much more accessible to the market, and will most likely find a nice niche within the XBLIG community with its endearing visual style and awesome gameplay. While it doesn’t offer amazing 3D graphics or online multiplayer, it keeps true to the genre and is a great example of an Xbox Indie gem.
Final Truth: Many of the $1 games on the Xbox Indies Marketplace can be gimmicky and disappointing, but Diehard Dungeon goes way beyond the call of duty. Tricktale Games delivers an entertaining slice of roguelike goodness that’s affordable and fun, and surprisingly awesome in its original blend of game mechanics.
With a distinct and quirky visual style, invigorating boss battles, and endless dungeon levels that test your skill and endurance, Diehard Dungeon shines amongst the many games of the Xbox Indies Marketplace.
+ Awesome old-school graphics
+ Distinct roguelike dungeon-crawling feel
+ Mini-games, boss battles and powerups
+ Signature humorous Indie style
– Screen can get cluttered easily
– Can be difficult in later stages