Dungeon of Elements
October 21, 2013 3 Comments
Dungeon of Elements came across my desk early last week and I thought to myself, “A puzzle game? All right. I’ll play this real quick and have a review out by tomorrow.” Yeah… nope! That wasn’t going to happen. There is much more depth than a few short play-throughs can give you.
Main gameplay is heavily inspired by Dr. Mario. Drop multi-colored pills onto baddies, line things up, baddies are dead. The formula is very familiar and one that most puzzle game fans will be able to jump into right away. I think the game even goes one step further and improves on Dr. Mario a bit as you don’t need to line up pills in a straight line; just connect three like-colored pills in some sort of linked pattern and you’ll kill the baddies. Additionally, not only do you get to kill monsters, you also collect items that you can either equip or use in the game’s crafting system.
As you progress through the story (yes, a story!), you will encounter boss fights to mix things up a bit. For example, one of the first bosses was a giant rat whose rat army would quickly refill the stage as I cleared it out. Another boss was an orc king with an army of orcs that would slowly march toward the top of the screen. Occasionally he’d summon another orc exactly where my pill was falling, causing mayhem as the pill did not go where I had planned. This definitely added some excitement and was a nice change from the level grind. It also gave me a reason to invent more swear words and derogatory slang against orcs which I’m always excited about.
I mentioned earlier that you can pick up weaponry and armor; these are used to cast special attacks onto the playing field or slow down the fall of the pills. For example, the sweet bo staff skill I have at the moment is an AOE effect that blows up anything in a small area. This is particularly useful when monsters are effectively hiding behind objects on the playfield. Boots temporarily slow the fall of the pills to give you a moment to think about where you want to place them. Admittedly, one could also pause the game because it doesn’t black out the screen when paused, but that’s cheating, and you’d never do that, would you?
Crafting in the game is how you gather better gear and items. It’s an extremely simple system of THING 1 plus THING 2 equals ???. I really hoped you could do stupid things like Dagger + Shortsword = Shortdaggersword, but alas, no such luck; the game makes you do reasonable, logical things like element + weapon = useful thing. Crafting takes a little bit of time to get into because it also requires money that you really don’t have much of at the start. It’s a fun little thing to do during the downtime between rounds, and once you are able to make items, you can sell things you craft for more money than you put into them. Even better, the game actually keeps track of combinations you’ve tried so you don’t have to worry about failed repeats.
Although there are a few things about the game that are shortcomings, I honestly do not think they take much away from the overall experience. It’s hard to describe without playing it for yourself, but when rotating the pills, they don’t always rotate as they “feel” like they should. As veterans of Dr. Mario will understand, the pills have a predictable way of rotating. The only time this potentially gets in the way is when you’re trying to expertly place a pill into a tight spot, heh heh, and it winds up doing something other than expected.
Item drops were a tad confusing at first because there were so many pieces of gear that had the same stats. I later figured out that there isn’t much of a difference between the items and that their main use is as crafting fodder, but this isn’t obvious for new players.
I wasn’t too keen on linking your Twitter account to the game in order to increase how much loot drops. I don’t like apps posting for me automatically. Thankfully there are some posting options such as “no more than once every 15 minutes” or “only post boss kills,” but it feels both a clever way to get some free advertising and an annoying way to get some free advertising. It’s probably not a bad idea, but irks me. I felt that enough loot dropped for me without linking my account.
Finally, there is one song that plays during the first few stages that is so repetitive, it drove me up the wall. I had to turn the music off and pull up Spotify until I reached a new area. Other than that one song, though, the music is pretty good.
This game is fun and I’m definitely going back to finish it up to try to open up hard mode.
A puzzle game that’s NOT on a mobile device that I’m coming back for? This doesn’t happen much anymore. If you like puzzle games, this one is worth your time.