Have you ever noticed that when people talk about perfect fantasy settings, they always praise the beauty of enchanted forests, refinement of elven cities, majesty of mountains, pastoral idyll of Halfling shires or some other nonsense of that sort? Well, if you’re at least a little bit like me you’re probably sick of those picture-perfect fantasy tourist attractions. And what about dungeons – those deep, dark, wonderful, musty dungeons full of all kinds of interesting and outgoing creatures? These are the places where the real heroes can train and test their mettle to their heart’s content, and yet you won’t hear an epic or ballad composed in their honor.
Well, at least Deep Dungeons of Doom shows some long overdue love for setting that provided the name for one entire gaming sub-genre. Since the game is work of Bossa Studios (which you might know by I Am Bread, Surgeon Simulator, Worlds Adrift and other refreshingly unconventional titles), Deep Dungeons of Doom doesn’t lack their trademark quirkiness. Quite the contrary, they reached the new heights (or depths, this is the game about dungeons, after all) of originality packed in a seemingly completely familiar and clichéd fantasy RPG format.
A Kingdom in Peril
The game is set in the generic fantasy kingdom, overwhelmed by demons, zombies and other foul creatures. The desperate King Olavus summons the best heroes of the realm to set forth and exterminate this unholy menace by any means necessary. Unfortunately, it seems that only three heroes will answer his royal call – a righteous Crusader, crafty Witch and agile Mercenary. You’ll start your holy crusade by dealing with Pitchblack, a demon who chose to settle in the castle sewers. After you’ve dispatched him to his unholy maker, you’ll be able to pick which location you’ll purge next on the map of the kingdom. The first playable character will be Crusader, and along the way, you’ll meet the other two members of this small heroic band, each with their distinct abilities and fighting styles.
Just What Kind of RPG is This?
Now, on the first glance, Deep Dungeons of Doom seems like some retro dungeon crawling fantasy RPG, but that’s actually not the case, at least not completely. The game obviously skilfully plays with fantasy tropes and implements a number of RPG elements, but the scope of your adventures will be very limited. The structure of each dungeon is arranged on the vertical axis. Every location consists of several stories and each one will pit you against only one enemy. When you kill the wretch and collect the loot, you’ll be able to descend to lower floor – there you’ll do the same until you reach the bottom of the dungeon where you’ll usually have the boss fight.
Defense and Attack
Although the fights are essentially pretty simple, they are nonetheless very well designed. If we don’t count the consuming of different potions, there are basically only two things you can do during the combat: attack and defend. The first action will, of course, deal the damage to your opponents, the other serves to absorb their attacks. After each attack, you’ll be forced to wait for a few moments before the attack bar refills, so that will be a perfect time to defend yourself. As in some early RPGs such as Hillsfar, it’s all about finding the right frequency between the attack and defense. Since every type of enemy has its own distinct way of attacking, you’ll be able to read the subtle signs like characteristic movements and changes of posture and stance and thus defend yourself in time to repel their attacks. Of course, the fights with regular opponents are relatively straightforward, but for bosses you’ll have to find some weakness in their seemingly impenetrable defense.
It’s astonishing how this remarkably simple formula, aided by nice pixelated graphics, catchy tunes, and interesting storyline, can be so addictive. Naturally, perhaps the best segment of Deep Dungeons of Doom is its quirky humor and the clever usage of different fantasy tropes – the game intentionally flaunts all those clichés from the countless RPGs and wears them like a badge of honor. Amusing and utterly captivating despite its obvious (and deliberate) limitations, this game is a perfect choice for quick fantasy session on your PC or smartphone.