Onward! To face uncertain depths and horrors in the darkness!
With an emphasis on the uncertain.
Players begin their journey in a tavern filled with some rather spiffy looking NPCs running about. Among them are some of the developers and backers of Legend of Dungeon. Here players will see their character for the first time, and see if their gender and general looks are to their liking since even the characters are generated at random. If you don't like your looks, go run through the bathrooms and get prettied up if it really matters that much to you. This process is still random however, so it might take a while to find a color scheme you like. Personally I just swapped out the gender and went off on my merry way. Also found in the tavern are some helpful supplies that should really be picked up before leaving for the dungeons. Once out of the tavern however, nothing is certain.
Legend of Dungeon takes full advantage of the procedurally generated nature of its genre. Not one single adventure will ever be the same. Occasionally the game might be feeling generous and give the player nothing but easy opponents, lots and lots of healing items, money and maybe even some equipment to help boost their odds! On the other hand, the game can decide to be incredibly vicious and pit the player against opponents that they will have little chance of besting in combat right from the start. This is the nature of rogue likes. Everything is randomized.
Along the way players will brave all sorts of challenges, from tougher and larger groups of enemies to traps, hidden doors and delicious loot surrounded by certain death. There's really no telling what you will find once you step into the dungeon. But that's what makes it so much fun isn't it? The uncertainty of it all. The raw challenge that games these days often refuse to even attempt to offer in favor of reaching a broader audience.
One thing is certain, however. Death follows with each new level of the dungeon. Sooner or later you will die to some horrible trap or monster you find on your journey. Death in Legend of Dungeon is permanent. Once you die, that's it for you. Your score is tallied and you are shown your place in the world rankings, then the journey begins once more! The only knowledge worth keeping from each new adventure is how each enemy handles when fighting and what the different potions and items collected do. This is especially important since they don't really tell you what they do. A sword is fairly straight forward, but a magic book doesn't really tell you what kind of crazy magic it has. Players have to experiment with these items. The most dangerous type of item to experiment however are potions. They may heal you or buff you, but they may just as easily spawn enemies on you or kill you.
How far does the dungeon go? I have no idea. I made it as far as the 17th floor before my wounds and a warlocks magic caught up with me. The tavern keeper suggests that there is a huge treasure on the 26th floor, so that could be the end! But I haven't made it that far yet. For all I know, that's just a reward for doing quite well before the dungeon continues to throw even more challenges at any foolish adventurers that dare brave its depths.
Sometimes you just have to bring some friends.
One thing that excited me and disappointed me all at once about Legend of Dungeon is the multiplayer. On one hand you can bring up to four friends along with you to delve into the depths of the dungeon! This is especially useful considering that this is the only time that perma-death isn't so permanent. So long as the rest of the party is still alive and kicking, soul fragments can be gathered to revive a fallen comrade. On the other hand, the multiplayer is only local. I can't help but feel that this was a terrible choice since the multiplayer element only makes the game better. Still, even if it's only local multiplayer, the sheer difficulty that the game can bring to bear against players makes it all the more enjoyable with friends.
I should probably mention that Legend of Dungeon also supports controllers, which makes life simple when it comes to local multiplayer. All keys are rebindable as well so it can be made to fit anyone's preferences with ease.
Old school looks, modern beauty.
Legend of Dungeon has this pixel art style to it that reminds me of Minecraft. Even as pixellated as the game looks, I still found it very easy on the eyes. Maybe it's the old school looks that make Legend of Dungeon look so beautiful. It reminds me so much of the games I used to play while I was growing up. The nostalgic feelings the aesthetic of the game stirred up went a long way to make it all the more visually pleasing, that's for sure. One interesting thing that I really enjoyed in the visuals of Legend of Dungeon was the way it mixed pixel art with 3d environments and lighting. Sometimes players will find themselves in dimly lit if not pitch black areas, where they will reach for their trusty lantern or any other light source they may have on them. When this happens, the light sources actually cast shadows over the environment. It's a really nice effect that helps immerse you in the bleak darkness of some of the rooms. Players should be careful as to where they throw their lantern however since, in a fight, if the player runs over their lantern they will pick it back up and leave them in the darkness once again. This could be changed for release, but if it's not, now you know!
The cherry on the cake is the procedurally generated music. I have never heard of this before, nor do I understand how it works, but it was awesome. Just like the levels, the music was generated at random each time. Even the fight music was different each time I was either fighting an enemy or running away from them, screaming and flailing towards the nearest exit. It was nice to have a game where the music never got old from being replayed over and over again.
Start your own adventure today!
It's not often that I find a game I can recommend to just about anyone. If you enjoy old school games, rogue likes, a challenge, or playing with friends, Legend of Dungeon is an easy sell. It's even easier when considering that if the game does well enough, we might see a sequel! A sequel with online multiplayer perhaps, since the lack of online playability is the only real down fall of Legend of Dungeon.
The only people I couldn't recommend Legend of Dungeon to are those who value the latest and greatest graphics over gameplay, and those who don't enjoy a challenge. Other than that, this game is a case of "Shut up and take my money". I thoroughly enjoyed it, even in this alpha build that we had the chance to preview. I certainly hope that once you guys get the chance to try it out you enjoy it as much as I have. Be sure to invite some friends over to revel in the chaos and glory that will certainly ensue from any playthrough of this great game.