September 13, 2012 14 Comments
After Diehard Dungeon, it’s safe to say the Uprising is back on track. Comparing it to Sententia is like comparing flying in a private luxury jet to having your head stuffed up the ass of a burrow and trotted across country with your legs dangling the whole time. And here’s the funny part: unlike the Sententia, the argument of “it’s just not for everyone” is actually valid here. Roguelikes are not for everyone. And I’m generally among those that they’re not for. So it might surprise you to hear that I actually kind of enjoyed Diehard Dungeon. Then again, the only other Roguelike I tackled this year was Spelunky. Double D wasn’t nearly as sadistic. If both were school bullies, Diehard would be content to wedgie you and move on. Spelunky would trap you in a locker with live tarantulas while stealing your date to the Prom.
Which is not to say that Diehard Dungeon is all sunshine and lollipops. It’s got a mean-streak that might be the result of some design flaws. The idea is “Roguelike-meets-Zelda.” Only instead of an obnoxious fairy following you around, you have a mute treasure chest. Sure, why not? Levels are randomly generated, but all adhere to the same principle: fight enemies, find key, go to next room. Occasionally you’ll pick up items or spin a slot machine for upgrades, but really, Diehard Dungeon is all hacking, all slashing. The mechanics of this were done well enough that somehow the part of my brain that knew I was playing a Roguelike shut off. As a result, I was practically euphoric during my first play-through. I had built up twelve hearts, was having good luck with the slot machines, had absolutely slayed all three “upgrade” minigames that play out like a really shitty version of Pac-Man (these have GOT to go), and had the smuggest of smiles plastered on my face.
And then something that looked like an armed Cabbage Patch Kid knocked me into a corner and drained my entire stockpile of life in about four seconds. I had gone from not taking any damage to being dead before I could even process what was going on. There’s no temporary “immunity” when you take damage, so if you get pinned into a corner, you’re fucked amigo.
Games give you immunity for a reason: because the other way isn’t fun. Imagine if Mario didn’t blink after taking damage in the original Super Mario Bros. If you went from being big Mario, getting shrunk, and then dying because of the lack of blinking, that game does not become the all-time classic that it did. Hell, you might as well not have a life system and make all hits instant-death. But since you numbskulls can’t seem to grasp that, I’ve arranged a deal with Microsoft. From now on, all XNA starter kits will come with ankle monitors that must be worn to use the program. If you even think about allowing enemies to gang-bang you in the corner without having any means of defending yourself, you get a 50-volt shock.
Of course, word is this is already getting patched out, along with a few of my other complaints. The game frequently skips. This formed a “fuck me over” tag team with the aforementioned killer Cabbage Patch Kids. Well, it’s being fixed. Keys slow you down too much when you have them. That’s getting fixed. Bonuses don’t stack. That’s getting fixed too. Grumble. You guys are kinda ruining my schtick here. Oooh, I have one that I don’t think is getting fixed: you can’t slash diagonally. What the fuck is up with that? Do we live in a world where diagonal doesn’t exist? Bullshit. I saw something that looked like a triangle. You can’t have triangles without having diagonal. But I’m being nitpicky. Even in its present, non-patched state, Diehard Dungeon is pretty fun. It’s not only one of the best hack-and-slashers on XBLIG, it’s also one of the best twin-stick shooters too.
Yea, as it turns out, the developers tacked on a seemingly half-assed (at least compared to the main game) TwickS minigame as an afterthought and it could very well be the most fun TwickS on the entire marketplace. Go figure. It even has online leaderboards, which is more than qrth-phyl had to offer. I’m not complaining or anything, but it’s kind of weird. It would be like if Lord of the Rings had 1996 Chicago Bulls highlights play over the credits.
Diehard Dungeon could very well be in a Beta state right now. Other planned changes include improving the graphics (which I had no complaints about, besides not being able to tell blood apart from hearts), fixing some of the cheap trap placement issues that happen when shit is random, improving the odds of getting the rare “gold keys”, and a whole slew of other things I never even thought to complain about. Mind you, Diehard Dungeon is already pretty damn good and well worth your money, but that’s not enough for the developers of it. They want it to be better. As opposed to deflecting critiques back with “It’s not for everyone, and I wouldn’t change anything.” It’s actually encouraging to see a developer so much on the ball that the ball can claim its personal space is being violated.
80 Microsoft Points refuse to not capitalize the “T” in “Tricktale” even if they won’t do it in the making of this review.
Diehard Dungeon is ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard. Click here to see where it landed. I’m guessing it might as well not unpack.