Deep Dungeons of Doom is an 8-bit era inspired dungeon exploring RPG with subtly satisfying mechanics and a focus on monster slaying. It joins the company recent games like Knightmare Tower, Shovel Knight and Rogue Legacy, that stand out among a crowd of indie games channeling the spirit of Classic Castlevania and Ghouls and Ghosts. In scope, the game is closer to knightmare Tower than the others mentioned in that it relies on a simple combat mechanic. But instead of climbing up a tower by bouncing off progressively tougher enemies, Deep Dungeons of Doom has you plunge level by level toward the boss battle.
Mechanically, the game couldn't be simpler; your character stands immobile opposite the monster, battle is a question of timing, you press left to block and right to attack. It's so easy that you might have a hard time believing thats all there is to it. In no time you'll discover that the game's simplicity is deceiving, mainly due to the variety of enemies that you'll face and the variations in their attacks and and their attack patterns.
What makes the game's combat mechanic truly interesting is that you'll quickly have the option of exploring the dungeons with three different characters: the crusader, the witch and the mercenary. Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses; using them successfully isn't just a matter of understanding these but also of managing the special stat boosting items that you'll pick up along the way.
The story is a standard one about a land overcome by darkness in search of heroes, told through semi-animated vignettes before every dungeon. The game's approach to these vignettes is lighthearted and humorous to the point of self-parody. While the game isn't unique in its setting, it does offer a beautiful evocation of it. From the background environments to the character design and animation, Deep Dungeons of Doom is very pretty to look at and even to listen to.
As you progress through your quest you'll navigate the overworld map, discovering weapon shops, potion merchants and places to upgrade yourself with permanent stat buffs. In game missions function as achievements and every monster you defeat opens a new entry in the bestiary. Certain places will require you to obtain key items to advance. All of which adds to up Deep Dungeon's of Doom's biggest surprise: intriguing depth built around an incredibly simple core mechanic.
The game isn't without its flaws however. The difficulty across dungeons is at times unbalanced. Some of them feel far too easy, some of them feel like they go on too long with too many repetitive battles. The tutorial system is adequate, but certain mechanics, liking holding down right to recharge magic, were undisclosed for long enough to make using the witch rather difficult. The game isn't long either, but at five dollars, I'll go as far as to call this one a hidden gem.