Devious Dungeon Review
Originally developed by Ravenous Games, Devious Dungeon is the latest iOS game with the help of game developer and porting company Ratalaika Games to make it’s way over to the Nintendo Switch. While I haven’t been that a big fan of some of their past offerings, Devious Dungeon stands outs due to its surprising amount of depth and polish.
For its part, Devious Dungeon controls just about as well as you expect a 2D action-platformer should; your character’s jumping ability does feel a little too floaty at times, but otherwise the controls are sound. The gameplay structure itself is also very familiar, revolving around you navigating a dungeon with randomized floors full of monsters and other foes in search of a key to open the door to the next floor. Checkpoints are gained after every three floors, with death sending you back to the Castle hub area where you are given the option of which checkpoint you want to reenter the dungeon from. And, of course, after every certain number of floors there is a boss you must fight.
From the setup I’ve just given, you wouldn’t be remiss to think Devious Dungeon isn’t all that unique. However, that’s because I’ve yet to get to what makes this game stand out. The first thing to note is the hub area I mentioned briefly in the previous paragraph. From here not only can you use the loot you find in the dungeon to buy better gear, but you are are also treated to some fun dialogue from the NPCs, like the king belittling his court jester and a guard who makes a certain Skyrim reference. Now, I would have loved if dialogue changed the further you got into the game, but unfortunately they repeat the same looping lines from beginning to end. Getting back to acquiring new gear, when you purchase new armor or weapons it not only makes your character stronger, but also changes his physical appearance as well, allowing you to see the progression in your character from a scantly clad man with a club to a fully decked out dragon knight, which is a nice touch you usually don’t see in low budget indie games.
Devious Dungeon’s pixelated art style is another place where the game seems to slip into the unimaginative void that most indie games find themselves trapped, but there is actually more than meets the eye. The creativity in in the designs of the foes you encounter is worth noting, and while you do start off fighting your fair share of generic goblins and knights, Ravenous Games does a good of throwing crazier and crazier enemies at you as you progress. The foes you end up encountering the latter floors are not only completely different from the early floors but are also much stronger.
Devious Dungeon can become quite a challenge in it’s latter stages, so much so that I become more focused on avoiding enemies rather than fighting, though that was always an option. The same can be said about the randomization of the floors, which are always impeccably designed. They feel handcrafted when traversing through them with the platforming becoming more elaborate the further into the dungeon you get. But if the game ever does become too difficult, you are given an out in the form of the game’s RPG-esque leveling system. Defeating enemies nets you experience points, which in turns allows you to level up your character once you reach a certain threshold. When your character levels up you’re given the option of increasing your health, strength, or dexterity. Hence, if you end up stuck at a certain part and find yourself throwing yourself at the same enemies over and over again, your efforts won’t be completely futile and you’ll actually be able to grind your way through this game if that’s the route you want to take.
As much as I’m praising Devious Dungeon for all the small things it does well to make itself stand out, it still has one major flaw – it has no gameplay hook. There’s no one definitive example of what this game does well to makes me say Devious Dungeon is a game you need to go out of your way to experience. Although, if you’re already in the market for a low-investment action-platformer/dungeon crawler, Devious Dungeon is easy to recommend.