It’s not very often that I play a Rogue-like game and really feel like it does justice to the genre. I wish this could be one of those times.
Welcome to Bit Dungeon Plus, a game where you’ve been forced into a seemingly endless dungeon that is just meant to have you gain power, so as to help you in your final fight to save your significant other. The game is an isometric title, and plays very similar to Binding of Isaac, but with large changes to the overall mechanics of loot and enemy spawns. It does have its issues, but is enjoyable to play for a few runs at a time – or one really long one where you’ll inevitably get your teeth crushed in because you picked up new loot. But I’ll circle back to that.
Fighting enemies is actioned by either spamming melee attacks, using a power attack, or throwing out magic to deal damage. The spamming melee attacks can do both critical and death strikes, which seem to be lacking from power attacks. You definitely won’t use power attacks if you’re a critical build, just because they aren’t really effective in comparison to the regular attacks you can action. Having to hold down the melee attack button to deal damage reduces its effectiveness overall. If you prefer to head down the magic route, then holding down the ‘Y’ button sees you straight. It has varying effects, and you can change those by picking up little sigils after defeating a boss. It does a lot of damage, but it will diminish your MP by a significant amount, so you’ll have to be careful to not rely too heavily upon it.
The enemies themselves will fight back with both ranged or melee attacks, and some of them have extra powers like invisibility or teleportation. Their melee attacks will either be fast or slow, doing about the same damage regardless of speed, so you might want to engage with magic attacks, or from spamming your attacks. The ranged enemies meanwhile will either use bows that shoot arrows at varying speeds, or they’ll hit you with magic that can either home into your character, or shoot in a straight line.
The rooms of the dungeons that you’ll frequent are all the same size, so it definitely seems like you’re going in a circle, and if it weren’t for the minimap, will find yourself completely lost trying to clear each floor. It would be nice to have a larger variation in room type, like that in Binding of Isaac, and it would definitely help the dungeon feel like it has even more of a random element to it. The downside to the random system is that I wish it would have just gone a little farther, bringing more variety and allowing for a change to the strategies needed in a fight.
The way that Bit Dungeon Plus does its loot system is more in that of a Borderlands style, instead of the fixed in place loot that games like Binding of Isaac and Enter the Gungeon have. This one also has equipment slots, so you’ll have to balance out what you want equipped, and leave anything else behind. There is no way of keeping equipment for later either, in case you decide to focus on a different build for your run, and so you have to be careful about what you end up swapping out, just so you don’t face penalties that are too great for you to surpass. This stems from two things; the first being that your critical damage additive is removed if you switch any equipment, and secondly, that there isn’t any documentation as to what the stats do in the game.
For the first of the issues, the critical damage, I think it’s a nice little trade off for stats by rewarding those who build their classes early, but it is really confusing to delve into the stats menu, and see no actual Crit stat. There’s a Critical stat – but that isn’t what is removed by equipment – and more, like Lifesteal and Potion, which makes it hard to design a build around such skills. Is Lifesteal a percentage of damage done, a percent chance of happening, or a solid value for each attack? The game doesn’t have anywhere you can read up or look at the stat, aside from when you pick up loot. It really makes it impossible to go building what you want, aside from Armor, Health, and Damage. That being said, I did focus my builds around increasing Critical Chance to 100%, for the increased damage is ridiculously useful in boss fights.
After messing around with the stats a bit, I learned that the Crit stat, which is how much damage you’ll inflict on a critical hit, is directly related to the Critical stat that you can increase without loot. I’m not sure how much it increases by per point, but you can easily reach 600+ damage if you pour all of your points into Critical and just hope you live long enough to reap the benefits. I did notice that the Critical Chance stat conflicts with instant kill, which again makes it really difficult to use the other skills the game has to offer.
Aside from the issues with the skills, the game has some cool stuff on offer. At the dead end of a hall, you get to add five points to your Health, Damage, or Critical stat. It helps to keep the game’s difficulty curve at a constant increase, whilst also rewarding the player for clearing out the whole dungeon level. The damage stat may be useful at first, but if you head along with a complete Critical build for example, it could be really powerful to sink almost all the points into such a skill.
Another cool thing Bit Dungeon Plus does is respawn rooms with enemies that are substantially weaker, but will drop money and potions a bit more frequently. You can grind them if you’re trying to get the most money possible, and it does really give you a reason to run around and grind – if only so you can buy some of the best gear from the market. The only downside is that it can be a little tedious trying to get all the way back to the boss room if you clear each level.
One of the things that I would warn about is fighting near chests, or killing mini-boss characters last, for the game will spawn an unlocked chest that will swap out your gear, causing you to lose your Crit stat. It would be nice to have a small time in between, or swap the loot button to something else. But it isn’t a big detriment…just be careful of where you slay, otherwise it may be the end of your day!
One further small but rather prominent issue with the game is that when it saves, you will lose any extra life that you picked up from lapping the dungeon. Be wary of it, or it might punish you for trusting a simple system.
Other than that, the audio and visuals are fine, but it would be nice if there was more variety to the music, rather than just the few tracks that loop endlessly. The graphics are nice and pixely, and lets it really live up to the name of Bit Dungeon Plus. Things are easily distinguishable, and the rooms look nice, but other than that, there isn’t too much to say about them.
As it stands, Bit Dungeon Plus is a decent little Rogue-like game that is a good pickup for those that want a little bit of challenge. It would be supremely better if the developers actually told you what certain stats did, or if you could actually keep your extra lives in between sessions of your run. But the equipment system is nice, and the respawning Demons really help extend the playtime of each run – without making it feel too monotonous. It could definitely use with a bit more polish, but the raw game is still, on the whole, pretty decent.