Genre: Action, Casual
Developer: Critical Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: Jan 29, 2013
Available Platforms: Windows, Mac
Reviewed Platforms: Windows
Dungeonland is an action RPG dungeon crawler that plays out in the isometric angle; think Diablo, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Skylanders. There are three themed levels to choose from that doesn’t make much of a difference play-wise but gives a different aesthetic to the environment. Also included is a special Dungeon Maestro mode that was very fun, dare I say some of the most fun I’ve had in a PC multiplayer game in a while.
In standard play, each player can choose between one of three different classes; Mage, Assassin, and Warrior. Each has their own style but can combine their attacks together to create some powerful team attacks. The one I found early on was having the Mage lay down a wall of fire while I took my Assassin and threw daggers through it; what we had created a flying flaming dagger attack. The characters types are straightforward, the Mage uses magic, the Assassin is good at attacking distance and sneaking up for stealth kills, and the Warrior is all about melee damage. Dungeonland is cartoony, bright, and reminds me a lot of the art style used in games like Torchlight; it’s very fitting with the theme park atmosphere that is being presented. The game can run on just about anything from what I can tell but even my beefy system specs cause some serious framerate snags here and there, especially when first loading a match or entering a new stage with a ton of enemies. It’s really minor and seems to go away the longer you play the game.
The starting difficulty in this game is Hard, and it doesn’t get any easier. My first match with an unequipped Assassin lasted less than 5 minutes and I was ready to cry foul. The game gives you the initial tip right out the gate to kill the spawners first and not focus on the enemies, I should have heeded their advice. Those spawners are brutal and just keep feeding in enemy after enemy. It’s not uncommon to find 2-3 spawners pop in when you enter the match or enter a new stage creating this crazy flood of death. This becomes much harder when you realize that your two AI team mates are not smart in the least. I found them to be good as distractions while I go destroy the spawners but because the game has a shared life system, they tend to screw me over. You start the match with three hearts and if anyone on your team dies, you lose a heart. Lose all your hearts, even with players still on the field fighting, and you lose. Luckily there is a mechanic to revive fallen allies, just remember the swarm of enemies trying to kill you at the same time; unfortunately the AI seems to forget about that some times.
This game was definitely meant to be played co-op with either local play or online drop-in/drop out support. One of the best choices they made with this game in regards to the multiplayer is that the whole team shares all of the pick-ups, like health, gold, and potions. Speaking of pick ups and gold, the game has gear you can purchase and equip to your character that’ll make everyone look, feel, and play differently from one another; new costumes, weapons, and buffs to tailor your character to your needs. The only thing I could not figure out was if new weapons actually had any effect on the field. It felt as if they did but there was no indication in the store menu or in game that showed it had an effect. They were cool glowing daggers though.
After you play dress up and get tired of the same old rinse and repeat wave of enemies, head to the game’s Dungeon Maestro mode. In this mode you get to play the role of that dastardly Dungeon Master while your, soon to be former, friends go through a fun house with traps and enemies chosen by you. This was my favorite part of this game and as our fearless leader Scott could tell you, there were many evil maniacal laughs to be had. It plays similar to the main game except the DM will get to choose the placement and the type of enemies to attack the group on the fly. It was great placing a trap into a spot I knew Scott and his AI had to go through and just doing my best to aggravate him. Scott on the other hand was not having as much fun and that led me to think that the DM mode is really only fun for a play through or two with the DM being the one having the fun, especially hitting the big round “laugh” button at any point in the match; that was a hoot. After playing a few games I sat there thinking how great this game would be on a console like the Wii U, especially with the Dungeon Maestro mode and using that Gamepad and 3 Wii Remotes. As of right now though this is only a PC release but one can dream though right?
If you got a bunch of friends looking to for something to play in between other games, this is not a bad choice. It’s got a difficulty that isn’t frustrating and is something you can just play a few games a day and not get tired of it. If you have a group of friends to play with, $9.99 for is sweet spot but if you’re a lone wolf without a pack, this may not be for you. Sure you can play online with random players but the whole fun here is playing with those you know.
Retails for: $9.99, Recommended Purchase Price: $7.99
A Steam code was provided by Paradox PR for review purposes