Beguiled by complex dungeon-crawler CRPGs, I am delighted by any game that gives me a small and simple digestible based on the experience. Numgeon is such a game. In it, the one man team at FobTi Interactive boils down the entire CRPG experience to the practice of clicking numbers. It’s easy to jump into it and spend small chunks of time, even if it can wear down due to its simple premise.
A boppy bit of medieval music greets your ears when you start. Between that and the pixelated menu option names and the drawing of a wizard and a rogue, I felt very positive vibes as I began. Fired up, I quickly clicked into my first playthrough. I then kept on quickly clicking. Quick clicking is the essential skill required to succeed in Numgeon.
At any enemy encounter, a number pad appears. You begin fighting the enemy by clicking 1 and then whittle its health down by clicking 2, and so on, in order. You’d think clicking numbers sequentially would be the easiest task in the world. Since they're jumbled up differently each time, you will find it difficult. There were times I swore 8 wasn’t on there as I frantically looked at each number, for example (it was there, of course). The differently colored tiles are partly to blame for the challenge – some numbers are colored red while others are colored white. Plan ahead by looking to see where each number is before clicking 1, but even still you may find yourself frantically searching for that one digit that you swear isn’t there.
As you go along clicking, the usual CRPG traits you’d expect make themselves known. You’ll come across merchants for your shopping needs and treasure chests to lockpick. Or, if you have a key, you can open those right away. I only successfully lockpicked a chest once, so this mechanic is par for the course in Numgeon. Raise your hand if you’ve ever figured out lockpicking in a CRPG.
You’ll also level up. There are two character classes to unlock, and each has a unique magic spell that charges up as you battle. I enjoyed experiencing all of these classic CRPG-isms via the comfort of simplicity. They make Numgeon a great CRPG-on-the-go.
Note that Numgeon is also a roguelike – you start over after dying. I’ve disliked this mechanic in the past, but that was because it had been tied into a game world that begged to be explored like a standard RPG. Here, I am perfectly fine with the roguelike element, since Numgeon has no such calling. Your experience will also carry over into subsequent playthroughs. If you level up on one playthrough and gain extra max health, you’ll have that max health on a new game you start after dying. Death came for me often. You do have the option to revive your character, but as this requires 100 gold. I never had anywhere near this amount, so I always had to go back to the start.
Numgeon’s got skeletons, bats, spiders – the CRPG works. All enemies but one I’ve encountered had 16 numbers appear for them. This didn’t necessarily mean the enemy had 16 health, as often they would fall before I clicked all 16 numbers. There seems to be some method to it: quickly clicking numbers incurs combos that you chain. I think once I clicked all 16 numbers to defeat a beast. One enemy type, a blob, had 24 numbers and took longer to defeat. Spiders can web one of the numbers, preventing you from continuing for a while. Skeletons hit the hardest. It all makes for a relatively challenging roster for a game where you’re just clicking numbers.
Like the gameplay, the user interface is simple, but I do have one gripe with it: you can’t back out of menus by pressing Escape. Instead, you have to click Back in the bottom right. You also can’t pause the game by pressing Escape. You instead have to click a pause icon in the upper left. I didn’t discover this for a while, and the pause menu has some vital information, especially the option to return to the main menu. I thought you could not back out of a game before I found this.
My other gripe with the game is that it can wear down its welcome fairly quickly. You can only click sequential numbers for so long, and I found myself ready to back out after 10 to 15 minutes of play at a time. Perhaps this isn’t a bad trait, but I’ve also found it harder to go back to it the more I play it. Maybe it’s a little too simple.
If you can stick with simple, you can glean from Numgeon the same light charm I felt when first starting. Avoid the mess of confusing and complex gameplay that takes a textbook to understand. Dive into Numgeon, click some numbers, have some quick 15-minute fun, and call it a CRPG day.
TechRaptor covered Numgeon on PC via Steam using a code provided by the developer.