Dungeons of Dredmor is an RPG, or rather it is a very specific subgenre known as a Roguelike. For those not in the know, a Roguelike is a super hardcore turn based affair based around adventuring, slaying, looting, random dungeons and inevitably dying. What makes them so hardcore however, is the frequency in which you die and the inevitable Permadeath that surrounds the whole unpleasant accident. This means if you die, your save is deleted, your character is erased and all progress is lost forever. Your characters name is then etched onto a tombstone as a permanent reminder of your failure.
So what makes Dungeons of Dredmor (or any Roguelike) worth playing? Well simply put, it is infuriatingly addictive. Each character will last for around about 10 minutes before biting the dust, and you just can’t shake the feeling that you could survive for that extra 60 seconds. So, you make a new character, hop back into the randomly generated dungeon and try to traverse the 10 levels to face off against Lord Dremor himself. Of course the Lord of Dredmor is no pushover and death is very likely indeed.
It is not all doom and gloom however, whilst the game is stacked against you from the word go (I have died in the first chamber by drinking from a pretty fountain filled with poison). The way you build your character can lead to some insanely powerful builds that would only work in a game as soul crushing as this. Who says you can’t be a Viking warrior- blacksmith- bomb making- ninja- monk- archaeologist- thief? Or a vampire mathematician who has a love for mushrooms and setting things on fire? Simply put, from the vast selection of skills you can make any character you want, and as you level up you get more and more powerful your enemies are not far behind.
Loot is also a major factor in Dungeons of Dredmor, and those who have a hording personality will be very pleased when they find a Legendary Pork Sword of Diggle Slaying, or a couple Ingeniously Fashioned Barded Copper Bolts. Like the dungeon, loot is completely and utterly random, with names, stats and even locations being generated out of thin air. It is very possible you wander upon a super powerful sword within 10 steps of the entrance, or that you will come across a potion that will burn out your esophagus without actually telling you it would do so until it is too late.
Graphically Dungeons of Dredmor is very simplistic, with sprites taking center stage and the dungeon being made out of square tiles. Oddly enough however, despite its lack of graphical flare, the game has a real charm to it, with bright colorful enemies and special effects flying everywhere. The audio side of the package is also surprisingly good, with epic themes being played in the background whilst a mysterious voice commands you too drink more booze when you start running out of mana.
To go with the charming presentation, you have side splittingly funny dialogue, item descriptions, battle shouts and room/enemy names. Every now and then, you will get a bat throwing out a Fus Ro Dah in your direction, or find a room filled with Cake. Little nods to popular games is everywhere, and is certainly welcome.
The biggest letdown in Dungeons of Dremor is the complete lack of multiplayer, both locally and online. It would be fantastic having a friend running around with you, or more likely away from you leaving you to your fate. As it stands however, the single player will last you a very long time. I have currently played 20+ hours and have yet to actually complete the game. For those who want more from the dungeon, there is also a plethora of mods which you can download which add all sorts of extra goodies to keep you playing even after Adam the 127th is slain by a Diggle…
Dungeons of Dredmor is a fantastic example of a genre which has been overlooked by the mainstream gamer, and is certainly worth a pick up. If death, loot, humor and role playing goodness interest you, then you can’t afford to let this slip by your notice any longer!
If you enjoyed this review you would probably like our review of the three DLC packs available for this title.