If you’re following my previews and of course you are, I happened to fall in love with a little game called Legend of Dungeon. I’ve previewed, streamed it on twitch and even played it in front of the developers Robot loves Kitty, Alix (Kitty) and Calvin (Robot). This review will serve a testament to my love for this game. No, they didn’t pay me.

Legend of Dungeon is a rogue-like dungeon crawler with a distinct pixel art style. You play as an adventurer starting off on a quest to travel down to the dungeon which just happens to start in the basement of the local tavern. Some say there’s treasure somewhere on the 26th floor! All you need to do is go to the bottom, get that treasure and come back alive! From the tavern you can choose your gender, and walk into the bathroom to change your hair and clothing options – But take note! These options are randomized, which hints at what’s to come in the game. You can play solo, or if you’ve got friends over,  you can play up to 4 player local co-op. No networked co-op, but I think this one is more of a LAN game anyway.

If you’re not familiar with rogue-likes, it’s okay, neither was I when I first came upon Legend of Dungeon. Rogue-likes are typified by randomly generated levels and having only one life. Legend of Dungeon keeps fairly close to these rules, but has lots and lots of variation. Each floor of the dungeon’s 26 has a set number of rooms, each with a doorway (which is sometimes hidden). Each room has a random set of enemies, random set of loot and goodies, sometimes contain lava (!!!) and have a random lighting level. The lower you go, the harder the enemies get, the better the items are, and the darker the rooms will be. This, of course, adds to the difficulty as you delve deeper. The neat thing about this randomization is that you can spawn a Deep Minotaur from a small box on the first floor. Anything can spawn anywhere, but it’s less likely for a higher (or lower, if you think about it) level enemy to spawn on the first couple floors.

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Well equipped and ready to fight!

So! You start with a sword, and yourself. That’s it. In the tavern are some beers (which make you tipsy, and remove one health and give you one XP, which is poetic, I think), a lantern and some apples. You’ll need all of them. The UI sticks to the basics and gives you your current and max health, your attack power, armour and modifiers, experience points and gold. Greeting you on the first floor will likely be some snakes and bats. Losing as little health as possible throughout the game is paramount. It sounds obvious, but losing a couple hp here and there from bumping into a bat or worse, a zombie, will quickly get your apple consumption into the red. Figuring out the hit boxes and timing is the key, and it takes a little while, but once you’ve got it, you’ll bump into enemies far less.

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The couple that slays together, stays together.

As you delve deeper you’re going to come across the best part of the game, in my opinion. ITEMS! The three categories of items you can pick up are: hats, for armour, weapons which change your damage/range, and potions which do a whole slew of things. Hats are all you have for protection in Legend of Dungeon, but it’s simple and easy to maintain. When you’re holding or wearing a hat, you get its stats. Some hats can light a room up, while other ones are as useless as a cat sitting on your head. There are tons and tons of different hats, such as the fish, plasma ball (which lights up a small space around you), and cthulu head. Weapons can come in the form of shields, bastard swords, crowbars and even cups of coffee. Weapons have varying ranges and attack animations/movements. For instance, attacking with the shield will push you forward, so don’t use it beside lava. The larger swords have much greater range, which helps to leave you out of attack range of enemies. Spell books can do a whole bunch of different things, such as casting polymorph on foes, spawning enemies that attack you, or spawning monsters that will attack enemies.

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A sword that spawns skulls that attack your enemies? Sign me up.

All three item types have modifiers which are completely random. The modifiers show as keywords.For instance, anything ethereal will make you jump higher, and anything clumsy will lower your armour. It works both ways, so paying attention to the description of the weapons, hats and spell books is important to surviving. No point in doing lots of damage, if you’re too slow to avoid their attacks, right? Lastly are the potions, which can (positively or negatively) affect your stats, put you to sleep or give you health, to name a few things. They modify your stats, and they’re different every time. What do I mean? Well, let’s say you drink a red potion and it makes you puke a rainbow and lose stats. The next play through that same effect might come from a green potion instead. It changes every play through, so you’ll always be on your toes until you figure out what does what. It makes every play through seem fresh and most importantly exciting.

I think it’s important to note that I’ve put in days worth of playing into Legend of Dungeon (I’m talking over 100 hours of this game), and I am not the least bit bored of it, but at the same time it’s still tough to pinpoint where

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the allure truly is. I think what I like best is that every time I start a new game, I don’t know what to expect. Am I going to wipe on the first level because of a super rare random chance boss spawning? Am I going to be put to sleep at the wrong time and be beaten to a pulp? It’s always a fresh sheet and I always know it’ll be a challenge. I remember trying so hard as a kid to beat the original Super Mario Bros on Nintendo, and just going through the same levels, getting to a certain point and dying over and over. Even with hardcore determination, it’s a bit daunting. Legend of Dungeon eases you into the game pretty much the same as Mario did, but instead of dying at the same point, it’s more or less all over the place, without being absolutely ridiculous. If I could plot my progress on how many floors I can complete, I could definitely plot a line with a positive gradient, which is encouraging. However, the dying more often than not comes out of absolutely nowhere (which is actually exciting for me). You’ll be trotting along with all the gear you could ever want for and BAM. pushed into lava, or BOOM, Death just one-hit you. Even when getting absolutely destroyed and having to start over, you don’t feel defeated, per se. It’s sort of like the game says ‘Aw sorry, pal. You were doing really well!’, which definitely softens the blow. The scoreboard helps with that, too, I suppose. Maybe this is what Stockholm syndrome feels like…

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The dark in later levels is actually quite unnerving!

Four player co-op really spices things up. You’ve got lots of people to share the items, a bigger overall health pool and you can give out some spell books to give your team a ranged presence. Adding four players to the mix is an absolute blast with the right people. When you’re all working towards the goal, it’s more than enough fun, but when you’ve got one of ‘those guys‘, it can be a mixed bag, so with most co-op games, be careful who you invite over!

The mixture of pixel art, and fantastically done lighting effects really set the mood well. When in the darker rooms, it genuinely is more difficult, and also really pretty. Any source of light causes shadows to dance about, and the level up animation/effects are an absolute treat in the dark. The sprite animations are fluid and fit the retro motif. In the indie scene it’s almost become a cliche to have pixel graphics combined with a retro gameplay style, but Robot loves Kitty has done it so well, that instead of being a caricature of the industry, it’s instead a beacon of quality that other retro indies can aim for. The music, a fairly recent addition to the game, is moody and really helps set the tone of the game and actually helps guide the player indirectly. Depending on the type of room spawned and the monsters inside, the music changes. This means that a room with the exit to the next floor has slightly different music than a room with a lava pit and a bridge spanning across. It’s almost imperceivable to new players, but can provide information without the player even realising it. Not only does it give major queues, but also keeps the music from being monotonous and boring.

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For me this is just a Tuesday

Since our preview, back on February 5, 2013, there have been a wealth of small changes and tweaks to the game, like balancing, but the core of the gameplay is unchanged.  As of this writing, less than 20 of the top 1000 highest scores on the scoreboard have returned with the treasure. I’m sure post release we’ll see the board filled with those that have got the treasure and returned, but as of right now there’s a less than 2% completion rate on the BEST 1000 scores. I think that’s a pretty good indication of Legend of Dungeon’s difficulty and balancing. And even with its release, I don’t see Legend of Dungeon being finished any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, the game is VERY playable and definitely enjoyable, but like skill in the game, there’s definitely a progression being made, and some room for improvement still. I’d personally like to see more room types, and possibly more objects to open or manipulate other than boxes and switches. The rooms tend to feel a bit too empty. Perhaps some variations on chests or vases/large crates, or  an addition of cobwebs and hanging skeletons a la olde english dungeons. The menu system can definitely use improvement over the single row of items that can scroll left or right. It’s all too easy to frantically switch through 10 potions looking for your sword.  Also, when a few too many things spawn, frame rates can get very slow, but I’m not sure whether it’s a platform issue or perhaps code that could be optimized. These criticisms seem like they’re tacked onto the end of this writing because, well, they are.

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Legend of Dungeon Review: Still No Motorcycles
Any criticism I can think of seems like nitpicking on what is otherwise a really solidly great game. Especially with all the replayability there is to be had, a $10 entry fee is more than reasonable.
The Good
  • Never the same game twice
  • Fantastic pixel art and shading
  • Difficult without soul crushing
The Bad
  • Item inventory is clunky
  • Framerate can get dicey with too much action
  • Could use some more room types/props
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)
9.4

About The Author

Stephen Bailey
Managing Editor

Stephen is well known in the indie gaming scene as the guy who gets excited for literally any reason while playing an indie game. Often pushing the audio levels to their limits, it is impossible to ignore his love for indie games. He is equally charismatic via video or audio, thus making him our goto guy when it comes to YouTube and Twitch TV. Oh, and he never stops talking. That’s why he’s our forum guy too.

  • Dingus23

    It’s not “almost a cliche,” it IS a cliche. Robot loves Superbrothers EP can go find a new art style.