Dark times are upon Hilltop Castle. There is an ancient evil that has awakened in the catacombs underneath the castle. The King orders all of his men to purge the evil threat. But the dungeon below is deadly, and constantly shifting making progress difficult. It is up to you to be the hero this kingdom needs.
The story is rather bare bones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it gives you enough to know what you are doing, but it just doesn’t add much to the game overall. At best it gives you an idea of your goal, which is ok if the game around it can carry the weight.
Devious Dungeon is a mixed bag when it comes to the audio. The sound effects are ok, if a bit underwhelming. Weapon swings all sound the same no matter what weapon you use, be it a sword, a hammer or an axe. Some sounds, like from enemy cannons, can cause some clipping issues which is quite noticeable.
As for the music, it is quite good. Every track has an obvious medieval feel to them, which suits the game perfectly. Each different dungeon style has a different track associated with it, which is nice. The music isn’t without its issues though. Each track is short and loops. That fact would be fine, except that when the track ends and restarts there is a noticeable reset, and it is quite jarring. Also, the dungeon style doesn’t change until you either die or finish a 3 room stint, meaning you will hear the one track over and over and over again with that jarring transition for 10+ minutes at a time.
Visuals & Performance
The visual style of Devious Dungeon is very typical of Ratalaika games. It is a style that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I don’t mind it. The game has what appears to be a very basic pixel art style to it. Unlike games like Shovel Knight and Shantae and the Pirates Curse, Devious Dungeon looks a lot less intricate and polished, giving it a rougher and more budget feel. Don’t take that as a bad thing, as I actually enjoy the look of that, as the overall style is consistent throughout the entire game, giving it a very coherent art direction. People who have read my previous reviews know that I highly value art direction that is coherent throughout every aspect of a game.
Enemy designs are varied, and the game does a great job of letting you assess how threatening an enemy is just by looking at it. For example, a short stumpy goblin with a spear looks rather harmless, where a gold knight with menacing axes looks as dangerous as it actually is to fight. The environments are also quite nice, though after a while you will begin to see the same style of areas over and over again.
Performance wise, Devious Dungeon runs great for the most part. I didn’t experience any bugs or glitches, but I did encounter some slow down from time to time. That said, the slow down was very minimal, and for the majority of my play time it ran perfectly smooth.
Devious Dungeon is a side scrolling platformer rogue-like with rpg elements. The game essentially breaks down into you playing through a 3 level block, with your progress through the dungeon saving after every 3 levels. When you die, you keep everything you died with, so the only real penalty you have is that you have to replay that 3 level block again. That said, each level is procedurally generated, so you will never play the same level twice, which means that level you died on you will never see again.
Speaking of the procedurally generated levels, this is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you never know what you are going to get with each level. This helps to change up what you see and keep you on your toes, and adds a level of replayability. On the other hand, there can occasionally be areas that are inaccessible due to the way the level was generated. There were some levels where a secret area and chest was unattainable due to the entrance being too close to the ceiling, stopping your jump from being able to reach it.
Thankfully, these issues never made it so that a level was unfinishable. And on that note, how is it that you finish a level? Each level has both a key and a door you must find to exit to the next stage. Finding the door on its own is useless without the key, which can force you to search every nook and cranny around each level. Because of the procedurally generated nature of the levels though, you can sometimes have a stage where the key and door are just right there, meaning you don’t have to explore at all.
Enemy variety is something the game has in droves. Each enemy has a unique attack, and learning their attack tendencies will help keep you alive through your runs. Although each enemy is easy enough when tackled with care, when there are multiple enemies with different attacks in the same area it can become a little chaotic. For example, when an enemy with homing magic bullets is firing at you, while one with a cannon is firing across the screen with a knight coming your way, it can add a level of difficulty that is truly thrilling. Unfortunately those moments are few and far between, with most enemies being isolated on their own, making your largest threat impatience. Boss battles can be interesting, though they are essentially just an enemy with a lot of health that has 3 or so attacks rather than just one. Once you learn their moves they are simple to take down, and there are barely any boss fights overall, which is really unfortunate.
There is an xp and levelling system, which is a nice addition. You gain xp by killing enemies, finding books, and completing quests. Quests are essentially just ‘kill 7 orcs’ or ‘break 7 chests’, nothing truly exciting. Levelling up allows you to put a point into one of 3 categories, which up either your attack power, health, or critical hit chance. You can also power up your hero by buying equipment from a vender. Buying weapons upgrades your attack power and speed, while armour raises your health. There are also rings and amulets which up attack and health as well.
Overall the game is never difficult. It took me a little under 4 hours to complete the game, which is not long. That said, you can replay the game starting at any 3 level block or boss battle, and with the procedurally generated levels it means that each run will be unique. I did enjoy my time with the game.
Now the question you’ve all been waiting for, is Devious Dungeon worth your hard earned cash? With how cheap the game is, I feel it is definitely worth it if you are looking for this type of game. If you aren’t a fan of side scrolling rogue likes with procedurally generated levels, then definitely stay away, but apart from that i would recommend the game for those who are interested.
Fun gameplay loop
Coherent art style
Music and sound issues
Can get repetitive