Dungeon Escape is a challenging 2D platformer developed by Roenko Games. The game consists of 50 levels that offer progressively harder platforming challenges and as far as platformers go, Dungeon Escape is about as basic as you can get. You move left and right and the only ability you have is a double jump.
The traps in each level are your standard platformer fare. There are spikes, enemies, and saws, both moving and stationary. Each level sees you spawn at an open door and the goal is to navigate to a key that is positioned somewhere in the level, typically behind some of those aforementioned traps. Once you get the key you need to make your way to a separate door, press X, and then move on to the next level.
One of the most noticeable things about Dungeon Escape is the incredibly basic design of it. Not in a minimalist or stylized way either. It’s all just simple-looking. You play as a square with a basic-looking face and all of your enemies are squares and triangles with equally as basic-looking faces. There isn’t any real creativity in the character design which results in a lack of charm that more popular platformers have. The character you play as makes a neutral expression that will probably match that which you’re making while you play.
The level design isn’t terrible by any means but it doesn’t stick out as anything special. The first levels are pretty easy but they don’t stay in that territory for long. Something that bothered me while playing though was the random difficulty spikes in certain levels. And I don’t mean that they required a ton of skill to get through, but instead they would sometimes adopt what would most aptly be described as “gotcha” style mechanics. Not in the sense that there are random microtransactions, but some levels are designed to make you fail a minimum number of times.
For example, one level starts with spike balls being launched at you and the only way to survive is by starting the level by holding your thumbstick to the left. Another level does the same thing by spawning you right next to an enemy that will kill you if you don’t move right away. These kind of situations don’t feel rewarding. All they do is serve to add in a tedious task that needs to be mimicked each time you die.
There are other levels where spikes start off hidden from view, only appearing when you walk over them. There is no way to discern where these spikes are, or when they will pop up, until you trigger them to go off. That means you will spend time either jumping constantly and hoping you don’t hit them, or walking into all of them over the course of multiple lives, hoping to memorise where they are. Again, this isn’t a test of skill, it’s just trial and error until you manage to get to the end of the level.
Even worse are the stages that will have you going through puzzles like normal only for them to throw a curveball that you couldn’t anticipate because it comes in the form of a completely new mechanic. Like a spinning saw blade suddenly swinging into you when you move to a certain frame, just as a random non-specific example that totally doesn’t happen.
I should clarify, I actually think these kinds of mechanics can be fun and amusing when playing a game. But the expectation that these mechanics will be present is integral to them feeling like a challenge, instead of just a cheap shot.
Another feature to call out is the score system. Each level has coins scattered throughout it and each coin will add points to an overall score that you have. The issue with the score is that it’s cumulative for all of the levels, so it really doesn’t mean anything. If each level had its own score or, even better, a timer that shows how long it took to complete, then it would actually add some sense of replayability and achievement. Yet, in spite of my complaints, there are levels and stages that are genuinely good challenges, able to test reflexes and timing. It’s a shame they just don’t make up the majority of the game.
Dungeon Escape as a whole will give you a couple hours, at the very least, of challenging levels to get through. And Dungeon Escape isn’t an easy game. It doesn’t wow by showing anything new, but there are a few levels that will manage to stump anyone playing. It was only after taking a break and coming back to some levels that I was able to finish them.
Dungeon Escape is also a worthwhile game to pick up if you fancy yourself as an achievement hunter. All of the achievements can be unlocked without beating the game and won’t take longer than an hour or so to get. That being said, it is theoretically possible to miss some of the achievements, but that’s only if you avoid picking up coins, killing enemies, and manage not to die.
As a whole, Dungeon Escape is a rather mediocre platformer game. It doesn’t have much in the way of personality or unique mechanics but the game offers a few hours of challenging platform for a low price. It also offers an easy 1000G which is always a bonus. I wouldn’t call Dungeon Escape a poor investment, just a lackluster one.
Dungeon Escape: Console Edition can be found on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One via the Xbox Store