Guild of Dungeoneering Preview
Back when I was little, and schools used to reward good behaviour with “Golden Time”, I used to doodle a bit in class. I was never the best artist going, but my best friend and I used to love working on the same piece of A3 paper, working on weird and wacky scenarios together. I bring this up because the Guild of Dungeoneering is in a very similar vein.
The Guild of Dungeoneering has one goal: Expand. Your guild starts off with one singular room, before building a room adjacent to allow a wandering adventurer in. He agrees to become part of the Guild, and the first true Dungeoneer…er. Once you have your adventurer, it’s up to you to search dungeons, grab all the treasure and fight all the baddies you can in order to build up “Glory”. This is basically the currency for the Guild, and is used to make new rooms for more adventurers to join.
While this is all well and good, the Guild of Dungeoneering does something that not a lot of dungeon crawlers do. Instead of giving you a set, room by room dungeon to navigate, it lets you create your own practically from the ground up. Now, there are some fixed points such as rooms containing enemies and bosses, but how exactly you get there is up to you. The game uses a card mechanic for pretty much all gameplay within the dungeons themselves. Different room types are displayed on cards, such as a room with 2 exits versus one with 3 exits, and so on. Once these cards are used, the room is placed wherever you chose it to be. The same goes with combat. The player is presented with different cards representing different abilities. Once you use a certain card, the ability is used and the card is put into a pile. Should you run out of cards, the pile of used cards is shuffled and is usable once more.
Treasure is also in card form, and has to be dropped on the dungeon floor for your character to pick up. This creates an interesting dilemma. Do you continue to fight the enemies as fast as possible, or do you stretch it out, create unnecessary rooms in the hope that you come across a treasure card for you to pick up later?
The earlier comparison between my mindless doodling as a child and this game comes not only from the dungeon building aspect, but also the art style. Set on grid paper (the sort you always had in Maths books), the rooms are made up of sketchy lines, that have obviously been drawn over again and again to make a solid wall. Characters and NPCs, including enemies and bosses, have been torn off a smaller piece of paper, giving their outlines a pleasant, slightly jagged look.
Once an enemy is defeated, they have what I like to call “potential” loot drops. The player needs to choose one of four things to scavenge from the enemy, while the other three can’t be picked up. This usually consists of 3 different pieces of armour or attack cards, or an amount of money. Any items that can be equipped appear on your character’s drawing, which I like.
These are good things. However, I do have a small amount of complaints about the Guild of Dungeoneering. Firstly, there aren’t really any animations. So, I chose to play as a mage. Mages are obviously known for using magic to fight. So when I cast “fire bolt”, I expect at least some signal that the person I’m fighting was hit by fire. Instead, the opponent’s hearts go down. That’s literally it. No animation. Each fight simply becomes a battle of attrition, yelling numbers at each other until one gets torn to pieces, which is another thing I like.
There isn’t much in the way of voice acting. Someone sometimes sings a song, but that’s about it. Once at the beginning, and once every time you die. His voice is pleasant, yet you’ll learn to dislike it as he seems to revel in your failures. That said, the music is quite good. It uses flutes/pan pipes which give it a very medieval feel, which goes well with the dungeoneering theme.
There is an issue that plagues this type of game. The type of game where protagonists are switched out as soon as they die. This type of game doesn’t allow for any character development or attachment at all. Adventurers don’t have voices, or personalities. All they have is a name tag that you won’t bother to remember and a class. As soon as one dies, then poof! You get a new one of the exact same class. Sure, any bonuses you gave the previous one are lost, but when they’re replaced as easily as a pair of socks, it doesn’t really make you feel anything for them.
While the Guild of Dungeoneering isn’t exactly hard, any difficulty that is encountered isn’t exactly fair. You’re dealt a random hand of cards every turn, both in and out of combat. This affects the amount of glory you’ll have at the end of the adventure, along with how well you can fight enemies. It isn’t really based on skill, since you have no control over what abilities and rooms you get.
Finally, the price. Honestly, after playing it for a while, I’m not too sure if the asking price is entirely fair. This is by no means a bad game, but it isn’t £10.99 worth of game. I’m not going to compare this to a game of equal or less value, since a lot of indie developers work with different budgets. I’m just going to say that perhaps it’s better to drop the price a little to reach a wider audience.
So overall, The Guild of Dungeonnering is a fun little pastime. There doesn’t really seem to be an end-game, since expansion is possible as long as paper exists in the world. It could benefit from having a few animations, maybe a few new voice actors and such, and maybe the price is a tad high, but overall it’s good. Does what it does well, there’s enough fresh mechanics here to be worth taking a look.