Coming from Goblinz Studio, Dungeon Rushers: Crawler RPG sees players charged with exploring dungeons to loot them of their treasure, all while building up a team of trusty seasoned adventurers to assist you on your way. The big debate though surrounds whether this game is worthy of a release on console, or whether it should have stayed put on the mobile platforms.
The story revolves around Elian, a toilet cleaner who decides one day that there has to be more to life than killing 99.9% of all known germs dead. Without so much of a backward glance, he sets off to plunder a nearby dungeon in hopes of finding his fame and fortune. As the story unfolds, he realises that there is a shadowy Mr Big who is running all of these dungeons, in hope of catching intrepid adventurers trying to loot them. Once the adventurers are dead, their goods are harvested and sold to the next bunch of hopeful dungeon looters, and so on and so forth. As Elian explores – getting further each time – he meets new allies that can fight by his side and help him to avoid the ignominy of having his dented armour stolen and sold.
Gameplay wise and graphically, it’s easy to see Dungeon Rushers’ mobile roots. Each dungeon starts the same way, with Elian represented by a counter on a visible square on the screen. Each time you move the counter, the next square is revealed, which may be a trap, a fight or even an event. At the beginning, you are exploring pretty much blind, stumbling into traps and monsters without a clue, but as the characters level up, new abilities become available that allow you to reveal all the squares within a certain radius, or to uncover rooms that you can interact with (such as an event room or the main treasure chest), and even abilities to detect traps or distract monsters with bait.
Events can be both good and bad, depending on your luck. They can give things like mana, life regeneration or enhanced parry abilities, but they can also poison you or cause you to have your armour break, so choosing whether to interact with the event is very much down to how much chance is on your side. There doesn’t seem to be any way to tell which are the good and bad events without triggering them, so you’ll most definitely want to give that lucky rabbits foot a rub before trying! The trap squares though are pretty self explanatory – if you trigger them then bad things happen.
Luckily, Elian can disarm traps if he has sufficient points left in his ability bar. See, each character has one of these bars, and any action that is taken in the main map screen costs a certain amount of points, so revealing the map and disarming traps require points. Fortunately, these can be recharged by drinking stamina potions, and so exploring can continue apace. Other characters have different ways of dealing with traps, ranging from disabling them by playing a tune to just charging in and taking a hit for the team.
Finally, the fight screen that triggers when you move onto a square with a skull on it is where the game moves from an almost board game like experience to a turn based RPG. This is where each of the characters’ three basic abilities come into use, along with the regular choices of using potions and so on. One thing that is missing is a Phoenix Down type item, and so if a character dies in a scrap they are dead for the rest of the dungeon, earning no XP while they are out of commission. With a large variety of bad guys covering everything from skeletons, goblins, necromancers and more, there are plenty of enemy types to go at, and different attack strategies to learn. However, by about half way through proceedings there is a sense of deja vu that begins to creep in, as the enemy archetypes become recognisable and Dungeon Rushers begins to plateau.
The game looks nice enough in the battle screens though, with large sprites attacking each other. The animation is a little weird, with Elian and co sliding across the screen without seeming to move their legs to attack, but that is forgivable. The map screen meanwhile is functional at best, but to be fair there’s not a lot that a developer can do to make a series of squares look visually thrilling.
There are however a couple of rather more annoying glitches that really should have been picked up via any game testing process. First off, the shop and crafting interface – you know, the place that lets you buy or craft goodies – quite often has any item description and price in a box that just about appears on the left hand side of the screen, ensuring that you have no idea what you are buying, or even what it costs. This is just shoddy design and makes the shopping part of Dungeon Rushers more or less redundant. While we are on the subject of the shop, there is an option to gamble dropped in as well, giving three amounts of gold you can pick from, before then randomly throwing an item your way with no real explanation to what the hell is going on.
The other aggravating thing is that every time an Achievement is earnt, the game throws you back out to the title screen. Every. Single. Time. You can imagine how upsetting this is when you are near to the end of a particularly hard dungeon…
Other issues arise too and these involve the near vertical learning curve, the scarcity of good loot from all these dungeons that we are exploring, and the fact that the grind to level a character up seems to take a ridiculous amount of time. To coin a phrase, the grind is very real in this game. With 10 characters to unlock, and five active at any one time, getting everyone upgraded will take a lot of effort, and for me at least, the pay off isn’t worth it.
All in all then and Dungeon Rushers is a game of two halves. The actual exploring of the dungeons and the turn based fighting is fun, in short bursts, but the grind to get the materials to craft new weapons, or to get a character levelled up, is not. The whole way things are structured goes to show that you can take the game out of the mobile, but you can’t take the mobile out of the game, and with the difficulty spiking massively after the first boss, it makes Dungeon Rushers: Crawler RPG a lot harder than it needs to be.
I’m a massive RPG fan, but this game just doesn’t scratch that itch.