Quest of Dungeons is a turn-based role playing game for the Nintendo 3DS. It has released on multiple systems, but I feel like the game lends itself well to a handheld console. The game is retro in the truest sense; there’s no overly complex mechanics to learn, and the adventure lies within the gameplay itself. When starting the game, you pick a class. You have a range of options, all of which are standard fare. There’s a warrior, an archer, a mage, and so forth. Each class plays slightly different, but there’s no massive gameplay differences. From there, the story begins. It’s a dungeon crawling romp through seven floors of monsters, but is it any good? That’s what the rest of the review will help you figure out. As with all my reviews, I’ll break down the game into it’s parts. Let’s examine the story first.
The story of Quest of Dungeons is almost nonexistent. This let me down tremendously. A large draw of classic retro roleplaying games are the immense stories told within the simplistic pixels. Critically acclaimed early classics like Final Fantasy didn’t get that way off of looks alone. These games laid out beautiful stories for us to adventure inside, and that’s where the true fantasy awaited. However, Quest of Dungeons lacks that drive. I wouldn’t fault it as heavily if the game’s tone wasn’t so focused on inciting your nostalgia. A faceless “Dark Lord” has stolen all the light, so you are tasked with entering his dungeon and saving the world. That’s the entirety of the narrative.
Since the game lacks any narrative content, perhaps the gameplay can even the odds? The game starts by dropping you into the first floor of a procedurally generated dungeon. The game plays from a top down perspective, so you simply move your character square by square as you explore the rooms of the dungeon. Each new game yields a new dungeon, so you’ll never encounter the same thing twice. You clear out the dungeon floor by floor, descending deeper towards the final fight with the Dark Lord himself.
Let me get this out of the way first: the combat in Quest of Dungeons isn’t bad. In fact, it’s simply too easy. On normal mode, I was able to complete the entire game in an hour and twenty minutes without dying. After my first completion, bumping the difficulty up to hard yielded a brutal experience. This is disappointing, because the combat is deep enough to warrant some challenge. There’s enough variation in attacks to give some strategy to fighting more difficult enemies. The game is turn-based, so you’re never forced to make a quick decision. You’re given ample time to figure out what buffs to apply to your character, and what special move to equip. However, (on normal difficulty) you will rarely have to worry about what your attack is. It wasn’t until the sixth floor of the dungeon that I had to start utilizing any other ability than my basic attack. Simple upgrades to my armor and weapons via the in-game merchant was enough to keep me safe. The seventh floor of the dungeon was fun in that respect, since I was now focusing more on my character’s health and ability cooldowns. It was that much more disappointing then, when the game ended on the seventh floor with an abrupt whimper.
Quest of Dungeons is a simple game, and your mileage and enjoyment will vary. The actual core of the game can be completed in under two hours on the normal difficulty, but you are encouraged to replay with different classes and difficulty settings. If you enjoy the base mechanics of the game, you might find an entertaining distraction here. Don’t expect to come away with anything more than fleeting enjoyment, though. If you’re anything like me, you’ll most likely play through the game once or twice and be done with it. It’s not a terrible game by any stretch, but it lacks the polish and variety to reach its full potential.
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