Guild of Dungeoneering is a game by Gambrinous, purchasable here at GOG for $15 or from other outlets seen on their website. It's a turn-based dungeon crawler that gets its originality by building the dungeon around the hero rather than by playing as the hero directly. Each turn you can play three cards, of which there are rooms, monsters, and loot. You progress through the dungeons and reach objectives by adding rooms and monsters, getting loot, and leveling up. At the end of each dungeon, the hero resets, but the money gained from the adventure can be used to upgrade your guild for better rewards, new classes, and boons that can be applied selectively.
For specifics, let's start with the options menu. Since this is a two-dimensional game, you're looking at the basics. Volume and a fullscreen/windowed toggle only. Keep the volume on; the narration and music turn Guild of Dungeoneering from an A to an A+. More on that later. One gripe I have with this menu, and one overall is that there's no slider for animation speed. It's an incredibly slow game, and a simple speed slider would not go amiss. After speaking with a few other players, this appears to be a common grievance. Outside of that, you get what you expect. The game claims it's running at 720p, though that could just be a lack of intelligence being applied by a notoriously unintelligent reviewer.
The story follows Grossly Incompetent (not real name), a grossly incompetent adventuring manager of shady reputation who seeks to become rich by letting other people (the chumps) do all the hard work. The world is rife with chumps, and the guildmaster (you) seek to take advantage of every last one of them. Get rich, or let other people die trying. Capitalism, ho!
Throughout Guild of Dungeoneering, your dungoneering guild (the Guild of Dungeoneering) sends dungeoneers to go dungeoneering, representing the Guild of Dungeoneering in dungeoneering in order to beat The Ivory League of Explorers, another dungeoneering guild that competes with the Guild of Dungeoneering. If you're a smart enough cookie, you might have deduced that dungeons play a role in The Guild of Dungeoneering. It's a pretty big role, too.
First thing's first: go get some chumps. Once the guild is a bit more famous the chumps will be queuing from here to Pluto to get a good look at you. (How topical.) Line up a chump and send them into your nearest dungeon to go fight rats, bats, and basically just more rats and bats. They can find cups, obtain loot, and after a while beat the dungeon's boss. Once that's done you get a nice trophy and a counter of how many times your chumps died trying to get it (in one reviewer's case, it prompted the question of protection against integer overflow). When you battle, you don't go off into some isometric battlefield and combine energy spheres into new flavors of salad dressing. Instead, you break out the card game.
This combat can get pretty complicated. Cards that provide +1 magic damage the following turns mixed with defense cards, drawing cards, discard cards, heal carts, life steal cards, self-hurting cards, and cards that hurt you one heart but heal you two because sense is something rationed heavily in Guild of Dungeoneering. It's not particularly difficult to play, though mastering it takes a surprising amount of strategy. A tried and true method, playing whatever damages the most at this current second and forgetting what your own health is, has shown little success past a certain point. Instead, employing advanced tactics such as monitoring your health and saving quick attacks for when you're low on life seems promising. Health and cards reset for every fight, so there's no need to put the good cards in reserve for later. See a card that calls in a tactical nuke? Pop it on that first-level rat. Show them the difference between your powers.
Die a few times, get some new chumps, repeat over and over and over again, put up with the narrator's snark for a while, and eventually you succeed in beating a dungeon or two. That's when you understand that one or two dungeons isn't that much, and it's going to take more than a few chumps to win. He who walks over a bridge of chump corpses is unprepared for the other side.
Through all this, there is the narrator, as said previously. He's the snarkiest of them all and can pun with the best of them. He fits with the great music and provides some real character. Guild of Dungeoneering is made far greater by this narrator, though it was already a great game, to begin with. Some games are made better by their narrators, like God of War. Some games are made by their narrators, like The Stanley Parable. Great alone, but the narrator is the sauce to the spaghetti, the meat to the sandwich, the tuna to the macaroni and cheese. It's almost essential. We apologize for the feelings of hunger this article has caused.
It's hard to describe a feeling of a game. When you play Spec Ops: The Line, a lot of people describe the feeling as "woah," or "heavy." These words mean little to someone who hasn't played it. Guild of Dungeoneering can be described as "charming," or perhaps "fun." It's the kind of honest, childlike fun that's hard to capture. It's fun for the sake of fun, and no matter how the words arrange themselves, you'd have to play it to believe it. It's not a game you would imagine someone playing for many hours and never getting bored of; it's a game where whenever you play, wherever, you're gonna have a good time.
So should you buy Guild of Dungeoneering? If you have $15 to spare, definitely. The graphics are nice, the sound's nice, the music's awesome (there's a soundtrack for $8, $20 if you buy both together), the narrator is fantastic, the story's hilarious, everything handles pretty well, and so long as you don't try and marathon the whole game in one night it's a difficult game to get bored of. All in all, while Guild of Dungeoneering has faults and some things it could work better on, it's still better than most where it is right now. If you're looking for the world's greatest Chump Simulator, you've got the right game for the job.
This product was provided for free for review purposes by Gambrinous.