Mash-ups are a big thing these days, but have you ever wondered what it would be like if someone mashed up Doom, Ultima Underworld and Legend of Grimrock? Stately Snail sure has. Built on the Unity engine, One More Dungeon sees your nameless character (complete with generic man face in the HUD, that gets bloodier the lower his health drops, sound familiar?) dropped into a randomly generated dungeon labyrinth, no reason and no obvious objective.
That is the main issue with this roguelike, it giving no direction of any kind. However, this is not a huge problem as the gameplay is incredibly simple and it effectively teaches you its mechanics via trial and error. Starting with a dagger and a random magic staff, generic fantasy man will go wandering through basic 3D levels in first person, fighting very pixellated 2D enemies that are actually really quite distinctive. The entire art style, looking like a dungeon-crawling mod for Doom, is fantastic. The level design is a little odd, with the random element sometimes throwing in walls directly behind doors, but the different palettes for each environment are very varied, from dank sewers to the dark portal world.
Before you start each playthrough, you have the option to select a mutator to change the gameplay for that run. Some of these make things easier, like halving enemy health or doubling your own, but some increase difficulty or even offer no more than an aesthetic change. You’ll earn points throughout each adventure and, in the (often inevitable) event of your death, these points act as the currency with which to buy new mutators. There isn’t much incentive to use anything other than halving the enemies’ health, but more experienced players may eventually want to increase the challenge by selecting a more difficult mutator. Indeed, some Steam achievements actually require the use of those options.
One of the first things you will notice when starting that first run, is that although the usual WASD movement configuration is in effect, the mouse only lets you turn. There is no looking up and down in One More Dungeon, again reflecting the likes of the original Doom. This just makes exploration and combat more simple, leaving you to concentrate on surviving and completing each level. Combat is a constant mix of melee and ranged attacks, with dagger swipes mapped to the right mouse button while the left button fires elemental magic from the staff. You can find different staffs and more powerful weapons such as swords and spears, which are essential for battling the increasingly stronger enemies as you progress throughout the game’s levels. Each level has a Guardian, essentially a larger and more powerful version of a standard enemy, that drops a seal that opens the exit and allows you to move on to the next dungeon. Every level offers a portal room too, which sends you to a dark and dangerous world that offers unique rewards if you can find them – but be warned: vicious creatures and traps may be lurking around every corner.
No matter the level, each aesthetic plays its own theme music. Every single track is catchy and memorable, lending even more personality to this charming game. Enemies have their own distinctive sounds, which helps identify which monster is currently trying to murder you, and is a neat little trick as you will learn which sounds to fear the most and be ready with your own brand of justice.
Balancing ranged and melee combat is essential to survival in One More Dungeon, but you will also find yourself having to stave off boredom at times. For all its strangely addictive adventuring, it is best played in shorter bursts as long runs can really drag on once you’ve learned how repetitive the game can be. That said, Stately Snail has created a fun dungeon crawler that offers something new with every playthrough, thanks to its randomly generated levels and its mutator options, and a game worth considerably more than the meagre Steam price of £3.99.
I think it might be time for another go…
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