Epic Dungeon (Xbox Live Indie Game)

Epic Dungeon (Xbox Live Indie Game)
Genre: Rougelike RPG
Developer: Eyehook Games
Publisher: Eyehook Games

I haven’t tried out any of the Indie Games on the Xbox Marketplace, so this was a new experience and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Eyehook Games is a developer of a few Web Games and one other Xbox Live Indie Game, ColorBox. I looked forward to playing this game when I was informed what kind of game Epic Dungeon is, though with a name like that I don’t know how you could expect it to be anything else.

This is the first title to be release for Xbox Live’s Indie Games Winter Uprising. Did it start the promotion off on the right foot?

So let’s get this started.

1. Story

You have four basic characters that you can select from, each with its own special power to go along with the standard weapons and equipment. The four classes are The Gambler, The Shaman, The Tinkerer and The Berserker. While they all specialize in their own attributes, you can eventually give your character all the attributes of the others.

After you pick a character, you get a brief intro about how they ended up in the Epic Dungeon. For my purposes, as the Tinkerer, I found that his mother drugged him and buried him alive… again. So from the beginning you get a sense of the humor that Epic Dungeon is bringing to the table. After that you don’t get any sort of substance story wise, at least for your character directly. Every few Dungeon levels (there are fifty) you will come across a Question Mark on the board. This is a situation where you get to pick what you do. For example, the game tells you that you sneak up on a group of goblins that are drinking. Your options are to fight them, drink with them or quietly sneak away. Personally, from what I experienced doing these, it mostly seemed beneficial to fight, steal or help who or whatever was in need. The rewards ranged from getting poisoned and having your armor stolen (which you could get back rather quickly) to health or attribute points.

While these “encounters” can be rather humorous, they fall short in developing a story for you to care about. But let’s be honest, you’re here for the loot… not the story.

Story Rating: Bad

2. Graphics

The visuals in this game are nothing spectacular by any means, especially for an indie game, but they definitely fit the game. I like games that change the appearance of your character when you change their armor and Epic Dungeon does that for me.

The enemies are in such detail that you instantly know what they are trying to represent without having to guess (something I’ve had to do in other low budget rougelikes in the past). It’s appeasing in a cartoony way that you get to see hacked off limbs and blood splatter when you kill enemies as well. While nothing extraordinary, it fits the style of the game.

Graphics Rating: Decent

3. Sound

Like the graphics, the sound here is nothing memorable for me. It seemed to be standard music for a game like this. The only potential problem that I would have with the sound is that when you hit an enemy with a weapon, it sounds like you are knocking on a door.

Sound Rating: Mediocre

4. Control and Gameplay

The mechanics for this game are fine. The controls felt smooth, and it was pretty easy to get down the timing for the chain attacks that will be needed in the later dungeon stages.

The level designs are nice, though there are basically only a few designs that get re-skinned. They are randomly generated, and as you go on, the stages add more and more traps. These can be frustrating at parts because enemies can trap you in a hallway where a spear is jabbing you from the side and spikes are coming up from the floor. The nice part about this is you can also get enemies stuck in these traps as well.

The gameplay does nothing to take away from the experience of playing this game. It does exactly what it needs to do to be successful.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Decent

5. Replayability

Through my three runs that I completed in this game, I spent roughly about two hours and fifteen minutes per run. That included my first run where I died on the 38th level and had to restart.

While I enjoyed playing this game during those three runs, I just don’t see myself going back to this and playing it over and over. I could see how it would appeal to those that would constantly want to one up how fast they could complete the game, but I am not one of those people.

Replayability Rating: Mediocre

6. Balance

The enemy pace presented in Epic Dungeon is good, and the enemies are swapped out for harder ones every couple of levels to keep the player challenged. This also makes sure you need to have plenty of health potions on hand for when this change comes. In the beginning of the game you are fighting rats and witches. By the end, you have fought giants, knights and vampires. Also be aware that when your character dies in this game, he dies for good and you must restart with a new character from the very beginning.

With all that this has going for it, you would be hard pressed to find something more satisfying to spend 80 Microsoft Points on off the Marketplace. For the price of admission, there is not a reason for someone who is a fan of the genre not to pick this title up.

Balance Rating: Great

7. Originality

There is nothing extraordinary going on here. If you have played a rougelike RPG before, it’s a very good possibility that you aren’t going to be confused or surprised anything that is going on here.

Originality Rating: Bad

8. Addictiveness

This is another area where Epic Dungeon succeeded, and I believe will be a hit with other people that are loot obsessed. The first time I turned on the game, I thought I was only going to play a few levels to get the feel of the game. I ended up playing until I died. With each individual level only taking a few minutes to beat, the game keeps you very interested in what kind of enemies, challenges or items will come next.

Addictiveness Rating: Very Good

9. Appeal Factor

While there is obviously a market for roguelike rpgs, I don’t think this game is going to break down walls. It is a good game for what it is. But due to the lack of exposure that Indie games get and the majority of the Xbox live community looking for the next “gem” shooter, this game will only be enjoyed by those that are actually looking for it.

Appeal Factor: Poor

10. Miscellaneous

The battle system is simple, smooth and allows you to keep constant attacks going on if you can time the chain attacks just right. That part is important when you are being swarmed by 6 or 7 enemies at one time. Being able to “chain” special abilities will be needed, and the developers made it easy to get a handle on this. The special abilities consisted of freeze, poison and spinning attacks. The Tinkerer specialized in a mechanical ally that would accompany you with its own health meter. You are able to chain these attacks by timing when you hit the face button representing your power.

Your character levels up by slaying enemies and through the occasional potion or encounter. You level up pretty fast in this game, at least once a level. I averaged around level 60 over each play through. You have the option to add points to one of four areas (attack, defense, dexterity and luck). Also, every couple of levels you have the option to increase the power of your abilities (either the one you specialize in or you can add one of the three other powers available in the game) or you can even invest in a regeneration ability that constantly replenishes health.

I did feel that the inventory system was a little lacking. This was mainly due to the fact that you only have 32 spots (excluding your equipped items) to hold all the armor, weapons, scrolls, potions and accessories that you picked up along your way through the Epic Dungeon. There are plenty of shops to sell the stuff you don’t need (there will be a great deal of it), but I still found myself constantly dropping weapons to pick up the next loot drop.

While I had minor problems with some things Epic Dungeon did, this game has considered depth for the asking price (80 MS) and size (11 MB). Obviously the low size had a lot to do with what they took away from graphics and sound. But let me make it clear, while I may be critical about some of the presentation, this was a good game that I enjoyed playing. I don’t see myself going back to play this month after month, but being the first Xbox Indie game that I played in full, it was a very good introduction to what the medium could add to the Xbox Marketplace.

Miscellaneous Rating: Very Good

Scores:
Story: Bad
Graphics: Decent
Sound: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Mediocre
Balance: Great
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Poor
Miscellaneous: Very Good
Final Score: Mediocre

Short Attention Span Summary
I enjoyed my time playing Epic Dungeon, even if it may not reflect in the final score. But it seemed mediocre in many areas to me and I likely won’t play it again in the future. Even with that said, there are a lot worse things that you can spend 80 Microsoft Points on.

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