Talk about an original name, huh? Dungeon Souls is a 2D Roguelite currently in early-access developed by Mike Studios and published by Black Shell media on Steam. Right off the bat, the name is a little familiar, right? I mean, you know what I’m talking about. A little familiar. Regardless, not to dwell on that, we’ll see how it fairs in its current state.
Dungeon Souls is the story of several dead adventurers, their demise a result of the never ending battles waged in the Overworld. Each adventurer can be revived and sent into the depths of the dungeon, where something awaits. I don’t really know all that well why you’d care much about gold and treasure if you were suddenly raised from the dead and given new life. Regardless, your chosen adventurer will determine how you play the game in your journey to gather untold riches.
That I know of there’s seven classes. You’ve got all the standard fantasy game bases covered with a Barbarian, Archer, Thief, Warrior, Wizard, Cleric, and Necromancer. You start with only the first three and unlock others by completing set goals during a play-through. For some reason, the Barbarian had an insane amount of experience when I first started the game, soon hitting the rank cap and turning into a viking. I can only assume this is a bug. After you choose a character you’ll be dropped into the dungeon to see how deep you can delve.
The gameplay has potential, being similar to Risk of Rain or The Binding of Isaac. You’ll be hunting down items that augment and upgrade your character’s attacks with effects like slowing enemies or starting fires. You’ve also got two abilities bound to the right mouse button that you can switch between using the Q and E keys. They’re generally useful, but you have to put points into them before they can be accessed. In order to progress, there are four or five monster-summoning seals that need to be activated, after which a portal to the next stage opens. If you hang around too long, the Redeemer, an invincible kill-monster will spawn and begin moving towards you slowly, so it’s best not to dawdle.
One of my main gripes is with the gameplay. It gets far too hectic to really make use of some of the abilities. Quickly you’ll be swarmed by the ever-spawning enemies in the stage and have to resort to holding down the left mouse button to survive while you gulp potions with the F key. There needs to be more depth, for sure. I do think the foundations for a really solid set of mechanics are there, however.
My next gripe is only an opinion, but I’m just not feeling the game’s music. Rarely there’s a chiptune song that’ll be really catchy and atmospheric in a game, but Dungeon Souls‘ is just forgettable. It sounds like every other track you’ll hear in a faux-retro indie title. Again, that’s very much to my personal taste and isn’t a flaw with the game universally.
The level design in the game is pretty standard, with occasional traps and hazards, but if you see one, you’ll never get fooled by it again. The usual suspects are present: a dungeon, a sewer, a snowy area, and a cathedral. I’m glad that each area has its own enemy types, though, and the same ones aren’t just reused everywhere.
… Except they are. Once you clear the game once, you’re thrown right back into the dungeon to start over against stronger enemies. Enemies from other areas stay, however, so you wind up dealing with a huge horde of monsters that slows the framerate due to their sheer numbers. Complete the game again and the third verse is the same as the first. Back to the beginning in a never-ending cycle of left clicking. It becomes legitimately tempting to quit out of the run after a while.
To make things worse, the game has its fair share of bugs, glitches, and other anomalies that I’ve experiences in only a few hours of playing. The aforementioned barbarian glitch that effectively maxed out the character before I had ever played the game, as well as other more typical glitches. A few spelling mistakes here and there, too. I’ve completed entire runs without gaining experience for classes or gold for passive upgrades, and met the requirements for unlocking new classes only to be greeted with a shadowy outline where they should be once I return to the character select menu. The game also has trouble closing for me, as it always stops responding when I hit the exit button on the main menu. I got a message in the game that it detected my controller, but the only thing it seems to recognize is the d-pad. Disappointing.
On the upside, the game does have the foundations laid for a really solid experience, even just as a time-waster like a lot of other roguelites. The classes are diverse even if they’re very similar now, and the items in the game at the moment are pretty creative. What you have to remember is that it IS an early access game. There are going to be bugs, glitches, flubs, and so on. With what’s been presented so far, I believe there’s good enough reason to think it’ll be fixed-up and improved-upon. Though, I honestly can’t recommend pulling the trigger on Dungeon Souls right now, but I think that with some tender-loving care and more content it has a bright future for certain.
Disclaimer: This game was obtained from the developer and reviewed on the PC.