Released by Goblinz Studios, Dungeon Rushers represents a board-game style approach to roleplaying that fuses the turn based combat of ‘Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey’ with the trappings of ‘Hero Quest’ to produce a not-quite unique, but very enjoyable hybrid title.
Before reading on it’s worth considering the following points. Do you as a player prefer to engage in short bursts of gameplay over the course of your day to day activities or sink into a game for an hour or more at a time. If your answer is the latter then Dungeon Rushers may not be for you, because ultimately the gameplay can become repetitive and there’s minimal plot to uncover. This isn’t a slight on the developer or the quality of the game however, but instead a subtle suggestion to download the game on your phone rather than via Steam to enjoy it as it’s built to be played.
Visually, Dungeon Rushers enjoys a rich pixel-art style that shows interesting (if generic fantasy) character and monster design. Sprites are bursting with personality and monsters each have a range of traits and visual tells within the same monster type that keeps them from becoming overly repetitive. Dungeons themselves are a beautiful grid work of interior details to explore and the ‘token’ that represents the player party hops and moves with a sense of real-world weight that perfectly embodies the act of playing the game in person. Whilst the world map is simply a map with a series of towers denoting dungeon locations, and the menu text can be cramped on smaller screens (we advise using something larger than the iPhone 5C) everything on display is of a high quality. At first it may appear that assets are going to be stretched across too many locations, but extended play remedies this with new locations and monsters as you get deeper into the game.
Sound design is well handled, with the repetitive sounds of the token moving and tiles flipping never grating on the ears, whilst battle effects carry with them a good sense of damage dealing. The score is reminiscent of Bioware’s ‘Dragon Age’ series in tone, though streamed through a synth rather than studio orchestra. Sweeping melodies, subtle background tones and rousing battle themes highlight the action and elevate the game’s action extremely well, making for an excellent audio experience.
In terms of narrative the story is told in brief snatches of conversation between the player character and party members before and sometimes throughout a dungeon. It’s light-hearted and well written banter that livens up gameplay but (at first) leaves things feeling quite low-stakes. Some of the comedy aspects fall flat, but others are more than capable of getting a chuckle from players, especially when the game satires its own fantasy setting. Sadly there’s not enough plot to really drag a player into the game for longer sessions, making it more of an interesting aside than a reason to continue to play.
Gameplay is turn based, with the player entering a pre-designed dungeon and uncovering it a square at a time as they explore. Whilst most tiles will flip to reveal simply more dungeon, others will unveil monster encounters and traps in addition to special events such as praying at mystery alters or opening a chest. Traps usually deal damage unless you’re extremely lucky, sometimes adding a status effect for good measure. Character skills can trigger to avoid this, but are limited in use and the option to trigger them is presented to the player. Battles too can be started with bonuses to your advantage should you choose to trigger these skills, and many will save these for larger encounters. Battles are turn based and set across a grid with obstacles that can be destroyed or used to block damage. When a character’s turn rolls around a selection of icons learned from a personal skill tree will appear in a semi-circle around his/her head. Dragging one of these onto your intended target will case the effect to fire and combat to continue, with a handy bag full of potions on standby for you to keep your characters MP/HP stores up to scratch. Most dungeons end with the reveal and gaining of a large amount of treasure (which does not repopulate when replaying a dungeon) but enemies tend to drop scraps and items for use in a synthesis/crafting process that helps tip the balance in your favour, especially when grinding for levels can take a while. Additional modes include and endless, randomly generated dungeon to explore as well as dungeons setting challenges for you to complete such as ‘use no skills’ or ‘avoid healing’ to net you a bonus. Friendly matches against other player parties are also available. The world map will expand one dungeon at a time, and this doesn’t really branch in any significant manner to give the player the illusion of choice, but it is expansive in its scale. The whole game can be pinched to zoom in or out for when the player needs to inspect a detail, which sounds like a small thing but actually plays out as an extremely helpful touch.
Overall there’s a lot to love about Dungeon Rushers, it’s visually pleasing, well-crafted and brings to mind the best in board gaming drafted seamlessly to your phone or desktop. It’s not a particularly deep game however, being crafted for casual rather than intensive play, and this can lead to a sense of repetition over long periods, a factor that the games slow grind and levelling arc doesn’t help. Still, those looking for a slice of fun that they can drop in and out of, with excellent pixel art and a wealth of content could do a lot worse than grab this game, even at the full asking price.