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Desktop Dungeons: Rewind Review

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind Review

As the Administrator in the kingdom set in new lands, you'll embark on a quest with various adventurers as you explore ever-changing caverns, bring back spoils of war, sell them for profit, and expand your regions. Can you survive Desktop Dungeons: Rewind?

Let's rewind (hah) a bit. This turn-based roguelike will have you building a new kingdom and raising it from the ground up. Recruiting new factions, getting new classes, and dungeon delving will be your main objectives, but I feel it's a bit unfair to call Desktop Dungeons: Rewind only a turn-based roguelike when it plays more like a puzzle title.

Each randomly-generated dungeon comes with a variety of different elements — you have buffs, items, enemies, levels, and spells you can acquire. The way you interact with these various resources will determine whether you succeed or fail.

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Before you begin your adventure, you'll need to select a couple of things: your Kin, Class, and Preparations (unlocked later — don't panic if you don't see it early). The Kin and Class combinations allow you to create unique and wacky builds as you dungeon crawl through the caverns of your kingdom — this freedom, laced together with the puzzle element, creates Desktop Dungeons: Rewind's addictive gameplay loop.

Having a choice from seven Kin and 16 Classes means that you'll have plenty of combinations to explore and enjoy. Although not all of them are viable (combinations like Wizard and Halfling will prove challenging to get to work), it doesn't mean you're gated from using them (most of the time — more on that later). If you want to select a specific build for a quest that allows you to use it, you can jump, try, and try again, as the game barely punishes you for death.

In each dungeon, you'll need to run around and explore the Fog of War to discover the resources necessary to complete the quest of killing the final boss (most commonly, the highest-level foe). Choosing when to fight and explore is crucial, as each tile you discover recovers your health and mana, but that means mapping your path is complex, considering you can't predict how the map will generate in each given round.

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Unlike most other roguelikes, your dungeon delves are completely randomised, and it feels like you have little control over anything. While your Kin, Class, and Preparations are yours to command, everything else is outside of your control, so there isn't a feeling of longing for your favourite build (looking at you, Hades) but rather an excitement to see how you'll make your current one work. The randomisation does mean that sometimes it'll feel like a certain combination is impossible, but restarting doesn't punish you enough to justify a complaint.

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind's addictive gameplay loop is only overshadowed by its ability to masterfully make you play everything and make it enjoyable whilst you do. Most quests you get from your kingdom are locked behind specific Classes, meaning that you'll need to pass an area with a Class (or a group of them) before you can proceed. This system not only managed to teach me how to play each of the characters (aside from the Monk... I hate the Monk) but showed me why I would love to play as them. What originally started as a fixation on the Priest and Thief classes soon became me loving the Wizard, something I seldom do in games.

Exploring Kin and Class combinations all the while completing quests isn't the only bit of content that the game has in store for you, as you also have various other modes to play. From a Daily Puzzle that has leaderboards (you will never see me at the top — I suck) to a Puzzle mode that removes randomisation and Class Challenges that will play to both the strengths and weaknesses of each one.

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While I often avoided Daily Puzzles like the plague and the Puzzles were enjoyable to mull over — aside from being very informative — I quickly fell in love with Class Challenges.

With three challenges per Class, and 16 total Classes, you'll have 48 randomly-generated quests to play in total. Bronze, Silver, and Gold challenges each offer a different reward that you can take advantage of. While the goodies are useful, the bragging rights for completing some of these are far worth the hassle. That said, some of them felt a bit memory-based, forcing me to focus on extremely-delicate situations where one mistake meant I'd die, which both made it tedious at times but also managed to teach me a lot and make me better at the quests.

The narrative is practically non-existent, but if you're playing Desktop Dungeons: Rewind, you're not doing so for it. Despite that, however, the dialogue is guffaw-inducing. From the ridiculous responses your character can make to silly situations, I was delighted with the small amount of dialogue — I hadn't enjoyed superficial and bordering-satirical writing so much in a long time.

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The only problem you might encounter with Desktop Dungeons: Rewind might be burnout from its repetitive and unchanging gameplay, and you'll likely be done with the game before it's done with you if you don't pace yourself. Although the dungeons are very fun, the random generation is great, and the gameplay loop is enjoyable, this really is a title to pick up for a couple of rounds at a time and tackle it slowly so you can really enjoy it all. This isn't a complaint but a recommendation, as I found the game to be taxing at times, despite the seemingly-simple gameplay at first glance.

If you pace yourself well and give yourself time to enjoy the title without experiencing burnout, Desktop Dungeons: Rewind is a great turn-based roguelike puzzle title that I'd never encountered before and am unlikely to encounter again for a long time. Systematically going through the dungeons and properly planning my route while improvising on the fly due to the complex systems is a unique roguelike experience that few other titles in the genre have given me.

8.00/10 8

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind is a title you'll likely play for weeks if you pace yourself properly. With the multitudes of things to do, you'll be enjoying it for a long time to come.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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