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Dungeons of Dredmor (PC) artwork

Dungeons of Dredmor (PC) review

"It's like fifteen hours of the same punchline over and over again"

Dungeons of Dredmor (PC) image

You can measure a roguelike's value by the number of surprises it offers, and how often it blindsides you. Games that provide you with naught but empty hallways and repetitive rooms tend to rate low on the awesomeness scale. On the flip side, adventures teeming with wild monsters and shocking discoveries receive superior marks. However, unexpected content doesn't make or break a roguelike alone. When the charm they provide wears off, the game in question still needs to be entertaining.

Enter Dungeons of Dredmor, an RPG packed with zany material. This title hooked me from floor one, where I searched every nook and cranny for loot. I stumbled upon a plethora of useful goods: a regular sword, a piece of cheese, some chalk, a magical cube that turns any item into fish, a grilled cheese sandwich... I never knew what I was going to find. Each new room brought something different to the experience and reinforced the game's lighthearted humor. After securing a potion that caused my body to temporarily create gold coins, I found a small fridge containing some sweets. A barbecue grill sat in a chamber across the hall, accompanied by vending machine filled with assorted explosives. Two rooms later, I located a fish idol that demanded tithes in the form of fish. In exchange, it gave me exotic equipment.

Although I make travel sound simple, I couldn't just kick doors down and march wherever I pleased. Traps waited for my careless steps, triggering projectiles from evil masks hanging on the walls. Other mechanisms pelted me with spells, and a few cheap ones even tarnished my armor. Traps, however, were the least of my worries. Cartoon creatures also roamed the dungeons, each one intent upon murdering me. Penguin-like diggles surrounded me, while vicious dragons blasted me from a few rows back. Witch doctors cursed me from afar, and chunky red devils engaged me in melee combat.

Dungeons of Dredmor (PC) image

The going was rough. A slew of enemies approached me at every turn and wore down my HP. I'd fight them off, eat all of my food, drink a potion or two, then rush back into the fray. Each step I took or action I performed exhausted a turn, so I had to plan my moves wisely. On top of that, I had to consider how to best flesh out my warrior. Every level-up allowed me to hone skills, from sword proficiency to blacksmithing. Thankfully, those improvements bestowed significant gains unto me. Over time, I saw my weakling grow into a powerful enough swordsman that crowd control required little effort.

Stages rose and fell in a familiar arc, even though they were all procedurally generated. I scoured dungeons for goods, made use of superior items, sold off or tithed the junk and slaughtered vermin time and again. The addiction that settled in during my raid of floor one lasted only about halfway through the campaign. Before long, repetition reared its head and Dredmor's spell faded. The further I advanced, the less pleasing the experience grew. The game's humor staled, and soon I found myself in just another average RPG. I hacked up the same sprites repeatedly and saw the same sights ad nauseam. The game basically told the same joke every few minutes, expecting me to laugh just as hard as I did the first time.

Dredmor's challenge factor was all that kept me playing, and even that slowly vanished. I eventually realized I could recover hit points by either skipping my turn or wandering about. Special equipment also strengthened the healing process, and I regenerated in no time. I effectively spent large chunks of time doing nothing and benefiting from it.

Dungeons of Dredmor (PC) image

However, Dredmor proved it still had some gas in the tank. Although I steamrolled loads of besats, I sometimes found myself in legitimate binds. Just when I'd think that I was unstoppable, I'd open a door and see the words MONSTER ZOO appear on the screen. A veritable menagerie of foes occupied every space within the room, and I often struggled to survive their onslaught. No matter how many times it occurred, this phenomenon never became less terrifying. All of the creatures would pour out and surround me, while the yellow puddle at my feet would continue to grow. The game also nailed me with side quests and special traps starring mean, boss-like adversaries. If I let my guard down too long, these creatures tore me to pieces, the words Congratulations! You have died. greeted me, and I cursed.

However, a handful of brushes with death doesn't improve the campaign enough to keep me engaged in the long term. Sadly, Dungeons of Dredmor blows its load too early by pelting you with all of its surprises within the first couple of stages. The experience would have been more worthwhile if it evenly distributed its tricks, or if it introduced fresh laughs and shocks now and then. Thankfully, Dredmor isn't an awful title. It sports enough strong RPG elements and challenges that genre die hards can still enjoy it for what it is. I mean, I did sink nineteen hours into this game, so obviously it succeeded on some level. It's just a shame it didn't keep its own ball rolling. If only it had, Dredmor could've been one of my favorite RPGs of all time.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (May 25, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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