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Putting The "Crawl" Back In Dungeon Crawler


D Is For Dungeon is a slight twist on the classic dungeon-crawler sub-genre of RPGs. While most games of this style have you create or recruit a full party from the beginning, in D is For Dungeon the player starts with only one character, a baby whom is destined to be the hero, but has his(?) playtime cut short when the great evil returns twenty years early. It's a humorous twist on the tried-and-true "hero" archetype, but that's about as far as the story goes before you're crawling through mazes and solving puzzles for several floors. It's a good game, but it pulls through purely on its technical and gameplay aspects, not leaving much replay value after the first completion.


Gameplay is where 'Dungeon really shines through. After crawling solo through the first few floors, Babee is able to recruit the first ally. Allies are recruited by obtaining a gem and purchasing a soul to fill it with; any gem can support any soul, but only one soul can be summoned at any time. Given the variety of available characters, this becomes problematic if you want to try them all. Gems are awarded before boss fights, which doesn't give you a lot of time to practice with your new ally unless you return to previous floors. Leveling up any character awards skill points that can be used to raise any stat that is HP, MP, or starts with the letter 'B'. This allows for serious abuse early on, where I raised Babee's Brawn and Bustle to high levels, allowing him to slaughter enemy parties before they even got one turn.

Battles take place when an enemy collides with the player, and most enemies are actually pretty hard to avoid. 'Dungeon uses a time-based battle system like Final Fantasies IV - IX, which seems almost out of place in a dungeon crawler, but works out okay. Most characters only learn a few skills, which really limited their functionality when compared to Babee, whom can learn any skill in the game. Some classes were much more powerful than others in the end, with some dealing thousands of damage with one skill while others would gain the amazing ability to... Use a common item without actually using it?

Some of the enemies in this game are vastly overpowered for when the player is likely to first encounter them. This made sense for some treasure chest guardians, as the items were usually too good for when you first find the chest, and could be returned for later. Before boss fights, I often found myself reducing the difficulty as some of the bosses were simply too powerful for my party to fight, and grinding was becoming difficult the stronger they became. The final boss, being understandably difficult due to being, y'know, the final boss, took several attempts to figure out a functional strategy and a proper party. A secret bonus boss is pretty much near-impossible to beat.

Overall, 'Dungeon is a good game if you enjoy dungeon crawlers like I do, but some aspects will seem very out of place if you're used to the turn-based or front-view battle systems that are so prominent in the genre.