Legend of Dungeon Review: Where everything's made up and the pots don't matter
The rogue genre is easily characterized. Add randomized levels, a minimal interface, unforgiving difficulty and character permadeath to dungeon crawling, and you end up somewhere in the neighborhood of a rogue-like. This makes Kickstarter success and aptly named rogue-like-like Legend of Dungeon all the more interesting. Although the game is currently in Beta (specifically BetaRobot, whatever that means), developer RobotLovesKitty (oh, that explains the Beta) has already accounted for these key elements while innovating on a simple style in equally simple but impactful ways.
Into the breach.
What does one do in the 2.5D beat-em-up world of Legend of Dungeon, you may ask? Well, there is a dungeon, legend says (go figure) there’s some awesome loot on level 26, and it’s up to you to find it and bring it back. That’s pretty much all you have to go on, which is good, because that’s actually more than you need in the way of motivation. And so begins the often short ballad of you, the intrepid and randomly generated adventurer hell-bent on learning what the elusive 26th floor hides.
From the juxtaposition of an appropriately retro 16-bit aesthetic and curiously detailed environments to the game’s remarkable lighting effects, Legend of Dungeon exudes style. Central to the game is the rogue hallmark of random which excels in generating ludicrous items. This becomes particularly entertaining when finding powerful weaponry early on and helps make each new attempt truly unique. Throughout my many playthroughs, I found myself wielding everything from the game’s starter weapon, a plain sword, to a powerful scythe to the Nimble Flamethrower of Awesome to a myriad of spells to a revolver, all while sporting stylish hats, which comprise the game’s armor system. My personal favorite would have to be the Safety Nimble Ethereal Bunny Band of Feebleness.
Why on Earth would I do that?
Beyond floors and items, the overarching randomization has also been applied to puzzles and even the music. This is where random truly shines: the game’s 244 songs — a figure which may grow through future updates — are subject to the same variance as everything else, resulting in a dynamic in-game soundtrack that complements each new level perfectly. Far from medieval, however, you’ll be exploring to the tune of 8-bit throwback themes, electronic beats and beautiful orchestral pieces.
Of course, the game does leave a few things up to the player. A character creator is sorely absent, but the game’s simple controls (move, jump, attack, cycle items, and a nifty screenshot feature) can be mapped to your keyboard or gamepad however you like. (For all intents and purposes, I recommend arrow keys to move, ‘S’ to attack, ‘A’ and ‘D’ as previous/next item, and Shift to jump.) This is all too necessary when accounting for what is arguably the most impressive and enjoyable bit of Legend of Dungeon: local co-op.
Grab some friends and hope for the best.
That’s right; no longer are you forced to trek through floor after floor all by your lonesome. You can have up to three friends at your side. And I’d grab as many comrades as you can because, as is often the case with well-designed multiplayer, each new teammate improves the experience ten-fold. Whether you’re racing for that epic sword, working to overwhelm a boss that just so happened to pop out of a nearby wall, or just laughing at each other’s hats, playing Legend of Dungeon with friends is a recipe for a good time. And for such a simple game, it accommodates multiple players admirably well: the camera will pan out to allow each player to explore whatever part of a level they choose; all party members must enter a door to move to a new area, preventing any jarring teleports; and, upon death, rather than drag the team down with your absence, you can be revived (with a whopping 1 HP) once your partners kill enough enemies.
Fight for a top-tier seat of honor!