I have been playing a ton of deck-building games lately and have been having a blast with them, so when I saw Dungeon Drafters, I knew that I wanted to check it out. Unlike the traditional titles in this genre, Dungeon Drafters has you use your cards as magic in encounters instead of having a battle where both sides are tossing down their decks. This rogue-lite features a tactical grid combat system, where you get to do three moves, whether it is using a card to attack or to move a space. Once you are done, the opponent does the same. This may sound incredibly simple, but there is a lot going on in this game.
You play as a young adventurer who dreams of exploring ancient ruins to find long-lost cards to create the ultimate deck. The story tells of the World of 4 Corners, four archetypes along with 12 saints who worked together to save the world from an evil entity known as “The Stranger”. The four archetypes sacrificed themselves during the battle and sealed the evil stranger away to save the world. Years later, this ancient seal was broken and the malevolent magic threatens to take over. You are on a ship that is caught in a storm, and the craft is destroyed, with the survivors washing up on a beach. Here, you get to select which of the six classes you would like to use for your run. These six classes vary quite drastically in playstyle so I suggest trying them out for yourself and finding which is your favourite one. As an example the Brawler uses Melee attacks and can even throw their opponent, while the Mage uses powerful magic to destroy the enemy — there is a class for everyone.
Each class uses a different combination of two decks to battle, some focus more on combat while others concentrate on defence or movement. There are six different dungeons that you can explore with over 300 different cards that you can collect and add to your deck. It will take experimentation to discover which spells you find the most effective against the enemies you encounter in the current dungeon.
After selecting the character you would like to play as you learn how the tactical battle system works. Press a direction against an enemy or unit you would like to hit with a melee attack. You can break objects like barrels and crates with these attacks or do damage to your foes. Be sure to smash all the breakable objects that you find, as you can get orbs that will replenish health, or gold that you can spend in town. To use one of your cards (or spells) press the A button — which is your action move — and select which spell you would like to use. The spaces that will be affected by this will be highlighted so you can see if your intended target will be hit or if you need to get closer to effectively use it. Your turn is done after three moves, or if you want to end earlier hold down the B button. Most of your actions will use up your AP (Attack Points), some require more points than others to use, so beware of this when you are selecting what to use.
If you fall in battle, you will awaken in The Temple of the Stone — the Stonekeeper will help guide your adventurer to their destiny. Once you leave the temple and enter Adventure’s Town, you will find that past travellers have created some barracks and ships to travel the world. You will also find merchants and other adventures visiting between their journeys. There are people that will ask you to perform certain quests, like the bartender who wants to hear stories from your adventures, and once completed will reward you with items like special cards. There is also a Guide Maiden who can purify any of the cursed booster packs that you may have received while exploring dungeons, or convert cards into currency. Whenever you want to go back to your adventure, speak with Labbit in the Crystal Plaza. He allows you to take the stagecoach to any dungeon on this isle for no cost. You will see a map showing all the dungeons that you can visit. Each floor of the dungeon shows a rating of how dangerous it is. Safe, Risky, Dangerous, and Deadly — the further down you go, the more dangerous it gets. This gives you a good idea of which of the dungeons to avoid until you become stronger. You can visit Misty Grove (I recommend starting with this one as it has a safe ranking and no basement), The Tower, Magma City, Dune Dome, Lost Wreckage, and Glacial Library. The order in which you visit them is totally up to you, just so you know the second floor of each has a checkpoint where you can save your progress up to that point. The only other place you can save is at the temple, so be sure to take advantage of these.
The pixel visuals in Dungeon Drafters are beautiful and really draw you in. They remind me of RPGs that I would play on the SNES. The variety of spell cards that you can use, and the different enemies and bosses that you would encounter were great. I do have to say that I have a weak spot for slime enemies, totally reminds me of Dragon Quest. The music was upbeat and catchy, keeping you pumped up for what felt like an endless stream of enemies that were awaiting you in each room you entered. Though a nice break in constant battles to explore would have been nice, I just want to smash boxes in peace sometimes!
I’ve really enjoyed my time with Dungeon Drafters, with so many different classes of characters to choose from, cards to find to customise to your deck, and challenging enemies to battle, there is a lot here to keep you busy. This is a fun combination of an RPG and deck-building games sprinkled with rogue-lite elements to add to the challenge. If you get the chance to check this game out, I highly recommend it!
Dungeon Drafters (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Dungeon Drafters is sure to appeal to fans of RPGs and deck-building card games. With a fun grid-type battle mechanic, tons of cards/spells to collect, and different classes to use, this game will keep you busy for a long time!