Dungeon Crawler Jam 2022
I came across this game jam on itch.io, already finished during the weekend. It seems to have been organised by people at dungeoncrawlers.org. Having nothing better to do (slacking on all my started games and personal projects), I decided to install a couple one and play them. Since most of them were fairly cool, I decided to write some lines about them. I didn’t play all the other entries nor I plan to do so, just selecting the one that looked appealing to me.
Cycle of Spore
Cycle of Spore is a very short adventure where you are a student searching for his friend after something horrible happened. The color palette is interesting with its cyan and lavender. The music and sound design are nice. Fairly short (5/10) min, with simplistic turned-based combat (only 2 actions, heal or hit) it won’t satisfy your hunger for mazes. For this length, it still has 4 monsters which are pretty cool even though they don’t always load.
Derspeccys Dungeon has an interesting twist where you manipulate the dungeon to advance through the levels. You select some tiles called Runes to place on the maps, filling gaps and revealing new paths. Despite this clever idea, I didn’t find the game fun to play. The movement is super slow, combat is just bouncing into the enemies, and the game art direction a bit too blurry for my tastes.
Clearly one of my favorite of the game jam, Labyrinth is not entirely a dungeon crawler. While you still traverse a grid-like maze, it does not contain combat or loot. The gimmick is that you can walk on wall, making each level a little puzzle. Armed with a bow, you activate diverse doors and move walls to get through the end. You only have a couple of puzzles until the end, but I think the concept is very strong. It conjured some memories of Roll Away/Kula World a PS1 game, I was really bad at during my childhood.
Nano Ruin is a dungeon crawler set in an apocalyptic future. You fight bizarre multicolored monsters as you plunder the weird landscape from scrap. Your traditional grid movement is there but there is some elevation. While this has little influence in terms of gameplay, it adds in terms of exploration. The fighting system is simplistic and you only need to manage your resources. The game is lengthy enough (around 20 min for me). The maze is interesting to explore, with good old keys and doors. There is a very decent amount of wall textures, which are kinda pretty. It helps a lot not to get lost and adds to the atmosphere.
Planet of the Beast
Planet of the beast is fairly pretty and has an interesting concept (drpg but with a gun). The game however is tedious, as it has a “dark souls” like system where you need to grind souls to upgrade your stats. You lose the souls/whatever on death and enemies respawn when you revive at a bonfire. Enemies are just HP bags (I mean they are literal bags too). This entry just increased my dislike for any dark souls-inspired game mechanics. It should stay there. Weirdly enough the game has a pretty long intro in a complete another tone than the game.
Xeno Seekers looks like a very finished game. You get a little intro with a sort of truck riding the desert and cool music that fit. The truck is your base where you can manage your inventory, and your robot and decide which dungeon you will visit. Upon visiting the dungeon you are launched into dirt corridors, fighting mutant rats and dogs. You only have 5 minutes to visit the dungeon. Games seem to have 3 dungeons to explore and many items to buy. You can also upgrade your robot? Too bad I will never find out as some enemies remove my whole health bar before I can do any damage to them.
It Came from the forest
Most polished game of the jam with a good chunk of content. You are an adventurer in a dark forest infested with vermin. Game plays and feels like Lands of Lore. You meet a monster, click the attack or spell button, and wait until it becomes available again. You sometimes find loot to make you stronger.
You start in a forest and eliminate some rats and you quickly find a city where you find a map to track where you are. The city has a big size with an Inn, some shops, and plenty of NPC with short quests. They all have some short dialogues ranging adding some humor and flavor. The game has a couple songs that fit the theme of the game.
You have 3 “biomes”, some underground dungeon, some forest, and the city. Game starts to be quite repetitive towards the end due to the combat just clicking a button. At first, you don’t have many options to heal. You have to get back to your feet at the Inn, where you can also save. This is tedious, but soon enough you unlock the option to teleport back to the city and after a while, you find more restorative items than you use. The game contains a lot of invisible walls which I despise. In some dungeons, you just hug each wall until you find the right one and I don’t find that particularly funny.
Overall a very solid game.