Dungeon Hearts is a puzzle game combined with a classic RPG in which the objective is to align three runes (which essentially look like coloured buttons, to avoid any confusion) of the same colour to create a diamond-shaped striker that deals damage to your enemies. Sounds simple enough, right?
Let’s start off with the soundtrack. Upon launching the game I was scrambling through settings to alter the incredibly loud music, to which I discovered new soundtracks were unlockable for each set of 23 levels completed. The default track you’re given eventually becomes repetitive, though not too noticeable as your primary focus will be on destroying enemy minions.
In a very similar style to the likes of Bejeweled, the graphics are quite retro with vivid colours. However, nearing the half-way mark of the levels, the only eye-catching aspect will be the occasional change in texture of the background.
In Dungeon Hearts, you are presented with four different anime-style heroes to the left of your ‘fatestream.’ The coloured runes correspond to the four heroes, each of them a different class: fighter, mage, healer and archer, and they each specialise in certain skills. For instance: healing and reviving other heroes, turning enemy runes into your own, dealing additional damage to the opponent and so on. Later on in the game these specialities will not hold much importance when you’re frantically tapping away at any skill available to temporarily clear your fatestream of opponent runes. The minions of the so-called ‘Dark One’ will appear opposite your heroes and disintegrate once defeated.
When the game begins, runes will make their way down each of the four tracks. You have to work quickly in a race against time (and space) to shuffle them around into sets of three before they disappear off of the fatestream. Any runes containing skulls that are left untouched will injure and inflict damage to the hero located at the end of that line. Once the runes have been matched, it transforms into a striker, used for destroying oncoming enemy runes in the same vertical or horizontal lines. Strikers can also be placed in a row of four to activate special attacks against enemies.
This may sound easy, but it required at least three attempts to get familiar enough with the fast-paced style to enjoy the game, even on the lowest difficulties. As the game progresses, inevitably, so does the challenge. After each opponent is defeated, you are faced with another round of ‘match-three’. However this time, the level of your heroes will increase for every set of three runes paired up. Levelling up your heroes also comes with its disadvantages, as your enemies also gradually gain power, infesting your fatestream with opponent runes that offer a range of threats to your heroes if they pass through undestroyed. With this, Dungeon Hearts will rid you of the ability to move some of the runes, restricting your chances of matching three of them before the time is up; they’ll also throw in some useless grey ones that you’ll have to manoeuvre about to free up some space, becoming highly infuriating after a while.
I’m all in favour of a challenge in a puzzle game, or in any game so to speak, but this is where the difference lies. Say, you and your now aching wrist have managed to survive every level and have finally come face to face with the boss at number one (yes, the levels count from high to low), your fatestream will now resemble “Through the Fire and Flames” on expert level at the end of Guitar Hero 3, and unsurprisingly, the fatestream will roll at more or less the same speed. At this point I had drained the life out of every skill and was left to fend for myself against stone runes and explosive enemy strikers. Of course the inevitable happened, each of my heroes was knocked to their death which only meant game over for me. Eager to get back on track and beat the final level, I started again, only to discover I was put back to the starting point, leaving me to level up another fifty times and spend over an hour to reach the final boss once again, which undoubtedly I did not want to do for the second time in one night.
This is where I felt very let down with Dungeon Hearts, as it left me not wanting to re-attempt it until I had a hefty amount of time on my hands.
In general this game can be incredibly entertaining if you’re looking for something that will have you on edge and test the extent of your reactions at the same time. It had the ability to grasp my attention for an extensive amount of time, and overall was somewhat addictive.
Dungeon Hearts (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Dungeon Hearts consists of levels that get increasingly challenging, and if you do lose, the fact that your progress is erased makes replaying the game an unappealing option.