I admit I was a bit sceptical going into Dungeon Souls by developer Lamina Studios. I’m not the biggest fan of the “Roguelike” genre, and hearing the words “procedurally generated” wasn’t helping either. But Dungeon Souls manages to be fun despite all that.
Dungeon Souls is a game where you travel floor to floor defeating enemies and activating marks so you can unseal the dungeon and move on to the next floor, each mark will summon a wave of enemies and although you don’t have to fight them, it’s to your benefit as they pay up tons of experience, money and loot. It should be noted that activating the last mark sets up a timer, the end of which sees the “Redeemer” appear on the floor. It is an unbeatable monster that drains your health just by standing near it, and once he appears you should hightail it to the portal to the next floor.
One of the best things about Dungeon Souls procedural generation is you never know what kind of equipment you’re going to run into on each run. There are both normal pieces of gear that offer stat boosts or give your attacks crazy attributes and cursed gear, which may or may not give you a boost. Curse gear may also come with a huge downside, like making the Redeemer appear faster, or making you take double damage from attacks. The craziness and randomness of what gear you’ll get each run is part of the fun and I was always hyped to see what possibilities I was going to come across.The controls are simple. WASD for movement, move the mouse to aim, click the mouse buttons to attack and the 1,2 and 3 buttons for potions. You can play with a gamepad, but the controls feel oddly stiff on it, and I quickly stopped using it.
You originally only start with 3 playable characters, but 7 more can be unlocked by progressing through the dungeon. Each character starts with one attack bound to the left mouse button and 2 additional moves they can learn that are bound to the right mouse button, and can be switched by rolling the wheel on the mouse. Every few levels these moves can be levelled up, but must be purchased first. I have noticed though that every character had one really good right mouse button move and one not so great one, and I found myself more often than not only unlocking one of these moves and powering it up, while ignoring the other option.
One of the things that impresses me most about the playable characters in Dungeon Souls is that they all play and handle differently, which is a real treat. One go through the dungeon you could be playing the slow, but incredibly strong Warrior, and then the next you could be playing as the agile thief. You can feel the differences in how the characters play, which only adds to the fun and replayability. If there is one downside here is that certain characters are definitely more fun to play, almost all of the magic users have screen clearing moves while the more physical characters usually just have to mow through the enemies.
Where Dungeon Souls really sets itself apart from other games in this genre is its sense of progression.Sure like other games in this genre, when you die you lose your progress in the dungeon, as well as your level and any items you picked up, but that’s where similarities stop. Each character in Dungeon Souls has a separate level from their in game one, this increases slowly over time the more you use a character and each level offers slight bonuses to your starting stats. A character that might start the game with 90 HP might find he starts with 100 after having this profession level raised, so while the stat boosts aren’t huge, its a great incentive to keep using the character.You also keep all your resources and remaining cash after a run in the dungeon. The resources can be used with money to make better starter weapons for your characters, assuming you’ve found any recipes in the dungeon that is. These weapons can offer stat bonuses or have an attribute, like setting everything you hit on fire, which again changes up the start of each run. Cash can also be used to raise your the base start stats of all your characters, but the increases will cost you quite a lot of money so you best save up.
Graphically, this is one of the more pretty games I’ve played, funny considering its set in a dark dungeon. The sprites are nice and pleasing to the eye and the environments are beautiful. The soundtrack side of things however isn’t very special, and I found myself tuning it out a lot of the time.
Now Dungeon Souls is a game that just feels like it’d be a blast with multiplayer, all that chaos and mayhem multiplied by several characters in the same game would be amazing, oddly enough Dungeon Souls only has local co-op and no online multiplayer. I unfortunately was unable to test the local co-op so I cant really give an opinion on it, but I am greatly saddened by the lack of online multiplayer, had the game had it, it may have just boosted the score.
Ultimately Dungeon Souls is a brilliant game, which deserves your time and attention. The developers have put a lot of time and love into this game and it shows. I’d gladly purchase any DLC for this game or a sequel if they ever make it. This is the epitome of what this genre of game should strive for, and I look forward to playing for many more hours to come.