Desktop Dungeons is a puzzle-roguelike that has found it’s way to tablets. Porting the game to tablets does make the name entirely redundant, but it does not make the game any less brilliant. Many roguelike games tend to be a series of detached adventures and once your character is dead you just start again from the beginning, but Desktop Dungeons is different. It has all the randomly generated dungeons you could want, but it also has a kingdom for you to expand and develop. There are also non-random puzzle levels to take a crack at. Each introducing a new mechanics and having a very specific way of being solved.
Any money earnt in a dungeon is used to expand your kingdom. So, for each evil goat you defeat you are that much closer to unlocking a new class or more kit. Anything you purchase increases the options available to you in your next dungeon run and gives each attempt a purpose. Instead of just working towards reaching the next level or beating that boss on the horizon, Desktop Dungeons gives you a persistent world to improve. The world that will help you to beat that horizon boss. Despite you starting each dungeon at level 1, because Desktop Dungeons has a kingdom it creates a sense of progression through the game. You will feel so proud when you poxy little land finally transforms itself into a sprawling metropolis.
Well, once you have chosen the race, class and any equipment your character is going to take with them into the dungeon the real game begins. Now, Desktop Dungeons is again quite different from many standard roguelikes, the monsters don’t move and instead, you need to find the best way of getting to a high enough level to take on the boss. In essence what this ends up meaning is that the only real reason you should die is because your strategy for beating the dungeon’s boss didn’t work. Which is great.
No, seriously. Dying because of my own poor planning is so much more satisfying than having a randomly spawned monster that was always going to kill me, kill me regardless. Plus if you die, then perhaps it was the combination of class, race and equipment and perhaps a different set will give you better odds against that specific boss. It’s just a really great puzzle that has so many great ways of solving it and really makes you want to learn how to be better at the game.
Okay, here is an example from one of the early levels in the game. You need to defeat a banker so he will come and work in your kingdom. He is level 10 and really tough, you are level 1 and really weak. The dungeon is littered with monsters all the way from level 1-9, spells to help you in different circumstances and buffs to buff you with. How do you defeat the banker? Beat enough enemies to get to a higher level, right? Well, how do you do that? Spells? Your trusty sword that you brought with you? And say you clear all the other enemies, did you leave yourself enough potions and health to beat the boss? Is that boss weak to a specific type of attack? Should you have done things differently in this dungeon? Are you now dead?
You will ask yourself these questions in each dungeon you attempt and more often than not you’ll make a bad choice at some point and it will get you killed, but when you get it all right and succeed? Well, then you are going to feel like a hero and that is why Desktop Dungeons, despite the now pointless name, is a fantastic game regardless of the device you play it on.
This article was originally published on http://www.gamertime.co.uk but unfortunately, that site no longer exists, so I’ve republished it here.