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Dungeon Crowley Preview

Dungeon Crowley Preview

There's a bit of me that wants to like a new game, but I can’t, I really can’t.

The idea of a procedurally generated dungeon is great on paper. It’s really a nice concept. Sadly without a lot of work, this game is not going to be presenting anything resembling a polished title.

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A recent patch from Steam has improved some of the UI graphics, menus etc., but in the main, the overall UI is clunky, unpolished, and has a very unfinished Work-In-Progress feel. Poor fonts, lack of detail, bland and uninspiring.

Regarding Dungeon Crowley itself, it’s utilising a lot from the last few years’ crop of survival games: You have an inventory, and some quick slots, from which presumably you can utilise weapons. What I found disappointing was not being able to use the mouse wheel, which I dimly remember prior to the patch, allowed me to cycle weapons. This meant I had to use the numpad/number keys to pick the item from the slot.

So far as I got, (which was to an apparently unwinnable boss fight - at least for me) the environment was extremely samey. Now, I understand that using an algorithm to generate a random dungeon is complicated, but if it’s limited to the same copy and paste style of wall/stairs and occasional furniture, it gets old really quickly. The environment will need a whole lot more “to it” to feel interesting. Some of it feels nice: The dropped items, with a glow above them to locate them weren’t bad, and some of the exteriors with spooky trees felt sufficiently exciting, but that all died once I got into the dungeon proper.

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The enemies appeared to be relatively straightforward rat-type monsters in a Warhammer-ey vein, but again, limited in the first section (Village of Deceit) to 4 or 5 types I noticed. The damage indicators were also clunky, and crippled the feel of the environment, disappearing behind other objects, walls and such. Big temperature style gauges felt like the rest of the UI: clunky and badly used.

Items are randomly dropped by enemies, and don’t appear to bear any relation to the weapons they attack you with. Items include armour (from cloth to metal), potions for health and willpower (which appears to regulate spell weapon usage) and something which might have been there to repair weapons?

There must have been some mechanic that regulated the number of times you get to use a magical staff, but I didn’t see any evidence of it.

The music is a loop of some soft-rock dirge which began to drive me spare within 10 minutes. No, I don’t have anything to add or qualify that with.

There appears to be some locked levels, which I didn’t manage to get to, one looks a little Egyptian, and another medieval in nature. I gathered I needed a key, which if I’d managed to survive the boss arena (respawning waves of nasties) I might have obtained.

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Look, at this stage, Dungeon Crowley is in Early Access, but I’d say it was a half-finished concept at most. There’s a promising idea there, and a game engine which might (if pushed) result in something looking passable, but at this time, it needs a massive amount of work to really polish and improve. Creature AI is poor to non-existent, with creatures not entering areas almost at random or getting stuck trying to go through a door two at a time slapstick style, and generally working only on a “I can see you” basis. No patrolling mechanisms are in play yet.

Another six months and maybe I’d return to it, but in its current state I wouldn’t pick it up for pocket money.

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Good things? OK, there was the humorous discovery of my previous corpse, bereft of anything I was wearing or carrying at the time. Um, yeah, I think that was it. This feels savage in its negative vibes as previews go, but seriously, without months of added work on it, this sucks right now.

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