A dungeon-crawling, rogue-like, RPG. Guild of Dungeoneering wears many hats, which in most titles would lead to their inevitable implosion. However, the game by Irish developer Gambrinous commits to a very delicate and well-executed balancing act, harmonising conventions from multiple gaming genre and making it into a single fluid experience.
First released in 2015, Guild of Dungeoneering is an interesting game with simple gameplay that lends itself to new players and experts alike. The game also engaging the player in a fantastic, comical story of one person’s petty quest for revenge after being rejected from an adventuring guild.
The player starts with an excerpt from their diary explaining, in rather amusing exposition, that you have decided to make your own adventuring guild, leading you to hire your first adventurer. This adventurer has the title and class of “Chump”. And boy, do they have to be.
The modular dungeon mechanic implemented in Guild of Dungeoneering is a stroke of genius and allows the player to pick three actions a turn from a hand of five random cards that include: dungeon tiles, monsters and treasure. Characters will move towards treasure and enemies the same level as them. This creates an excellent way to control your character’s growth for the run.
Aside from the characters always beginning at level one in each new dungeon, the player soon discovers whilst playing the game that Guild of Dungeoneering is not afraid to murder your adventurers. In fact, some levels are extremely difficult for some classes and easier for others with no way of telling prior until you become acquainted with the game areas. So you may find yourself throwing your lackeys through the meat-grinder in the hopes of discovering how best to tackle the level.
Where this would normally be a complaint and a sleight against the game, Guild of Dungeoneering is designed to make this eventuality fun. With its hilarious voice over from your bardic narrator explaining the terrible things that happen in game in whimsical yet ominous verse, the death of a character is not the be all and end all. This is especially so when you get a replacement for whichever character just died after one more level attempt. This helps to soften the blow of losing a character you quite liked, by getting a new character who does the same job to fill the void their death left behind.
As mentioned above, the game is narrated by a rather ominous bard who speaks only in rhymes. This, accompanied by the excellent backing tracks, creates a wonderfully immersive experience.
All areas of the game are split into three levels which each have different goals. The final level of each area is a boss event with conditions ranging from ‘beat the enemy in ten turns or die’ and ‘run away and level up whilst the boss chases you’. Eventually all these levels end with a showdown with the area boss and, upon their defeat, another excerpt from your diary explaining how this benefits you and what trophy you took from the area.
This game is wonderfully diverse in its missions, areas, bosses, character classes, equipment and strategy. And that is before you throw in the currently available expansions. As of a week ago, when I bought the game for £3.99 on the App Store, purchasing the game gives you access to the DLC and all future DLC. As this is the game that Gambrinous is currently focused on, this is an amazing deal.
The two current DLC give you further missions in a snowy mountainscape and a pirate’s treasure cove. Both of these DLC unlock more player classes and lots more missions, enemy types and equipment.
All of this is wrapped up in a charming modular dungeon system where the assets are drawn to look like old school pen and paper dungeons and characters in an adorable and unique art style.
This game is certainly an excellent example of how good mobile games can be, if not a bar set for dungeon-crawling games as a whole.
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Guild of Dungeoneering is an amazing RPG that incorporates elements from other genres to make an undeniably entertaining experience with free content still to come. I will be looking forward to future releases from Gambrinous.