Devious Dungeon is an action platformer and, unsurprisingly, a dungeon crawler from Ratalaika Games, known for their previous titles such as League of Evil and One More Dungeon. Playing as a nameless knight, the player is sent by the realm’s King to explore the mysterious catacombs beneath the castle and slay the monsters within. There isn’t much to the story of this game, and while its simplicity can be compared to the retro games it appears to emulate, it doesn’t work in the games favour. While in the hub world along with characters like the mentioned King, the player cannot engage in conversation with them, so the world-building and motivation of the protagonist aren’t present at all.
In the game’s defence, story is clearly not its focus. That titles goes to what it advertises most: the gameplay. The core mechanics of Devious Dungeon revolve around three simple features, namely monster slaying, loot collection and upgrading of gear. The player starts with basic equipment such as a map of the rooms they must explore, and will initially rely on jumping and attacking. Fighting against enemies is very simple, with the player approaching enemies and swinging their sword. It would have been nice to have an air attack, or a way to block and dodge attacks, especially since foes tend to approach the protagonist without stopping, potentially plummeting down health, and the player slows down when attacking. However, overall movement is quite fluid with no real delay, though higher jumps do feel a bit clunky and difficult to predict.
Loot collection is an easy task as every breakable object gives money and health, the latter being needed for purchasing of higher-level equipment. The player levels up as they go, with the option of improvement for health, strength or stamina. It is all quite basic, which is why the game also brags about its other features. On the website the game is said to have over sixty-five levels, though you must have a high enough level to enter. Since levelling up comes from slaying enemies and exploring, it becomes a grind to reach those promised levels. On the topic of grinding, Devious Dungeon also totes a Quest system, though they are more like optional missions. These are mostly based around working to get a certain number of something, for example killing five of a certain enemy or collecting coins, with a monetary reward. Unfortunately this, like the combat, is uninteresting.
This game is odd in that there is nothing within it that can be considered bad. Everything works and has a purpose, and the game plays just fine. The issue comes in the fact that the game, as a whole, is basic. It really needed something fresh to keep it from becoming bland, and it had many predecessors to borrow from. It could have implemented something akin to a party system a la Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, with online play, or even in-game struggles for the play such as status effects like in Darkest Dungeon, but there is nothing unique here at all.
Compared to other new games in the genre like Celeste, Devious Dungeon doesn’t provide anything that can be considered transformative or fresh. Rather, it remains within the confines of its predecessors, and exists as another game in the genre. In a way, there is no real reason to play it. Unless a player truly desires a bare-bone dungeon crawling experience, though there are many other alternatives that at least try something different.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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