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Dungeon Girl (PC) artwork

Dungeon Girl (PC) review

"Dungeon Mistress"

Match-block puzzle/dungeon crawl hybrid games are a weird niche genre thatís really snuck up on me. Did everyone else know this had steadily become a thing? Itís weird; thereís nothing more appealing to the filthy casuals out there than block matching puzzles yet, rather than try to petition dead-eyed Facebook users and your mum, Inu to Neko have instead taken this once simple creature and grafted all the extra limbs they can find on to it.

So, like a million games before it, thereís this grid, right? Itís full of different icons and should you select an interlocking pattern of the same icon numbering three or more, then all those blocks are eliminated with a satisfying pop. Then, all the other icons that were above it fall into the gaps now made vacant, allowing for new combinations, and you do it all over again and again and again. Weíve all had a Columns or a Bust-a-Move or (if youíre Marc Golding) a Hunie Pop in our lives, and we all know the formula. Except, youíre not fighting for points or glory or to lever off the occasional bra in this instance; youíre using it to delve through a monster-infested labyrinth.

Even here, thereís a lot more complexity than you would initially expect. Sure, just dungeon delving is a breeze on the surface. You collect search tiles to try and find access the next floor down; you can collect work tiles to mine for minerals as you explore, offering a stream of capital. Thereís attack tiles youíll need to abuse should you stumble across an innocent monster minding its own business in whatís probably been his family home for generations, and thereís heart tiles you can collect to perk up flagging HP should the inconsiderable swine dare to fight back. The more tiles you banish at a time, the more potent your selected action. Pretty straight forward so far, right?

Sometimes, special tiles arrive that affect you in different ways. For example, there are the mind tiles which add to your mind count. Whatís a mind count? Iím not quite sure; the game never really explains it, but itís constantly decreasing the further you delve and, should it reach zero, then itís the premature end of your crawl. I guess itís kind of like a sanity meter? So, thereís that to keep an eye on. Oh, and you can often find treasure chests. But you canít actually open them unless you have a spare key. You obtain keys by completing little quest lines that can refresh without warning, so you need to keep an eye on that, too. Theyíre usually pretty straight forward; asking you to do stuff like eliminate 30 search tiles, or knock off a number of six or above combos. Theyíre important because chests contain items.

Okay. So, items. You can carry up to six of them into each crawl. Theyíre infinite, so they never expire if you abuse them, but their use is regulated by item points that slowly refill turn by turn. As well as acting exactly like equipment and offering all the stat boosts you can expect, they have an active use skill, such as replenish health/mind, or deal direct damage, or swap tile properties, or hard-refresh quest lines. There are a lot of different uses, and itís on you to come up with a combination that suits your game style best. But you donít have to just rely on scavenging to bolster your stocks; thereís a ridiculously deep crafting system to muddle through and figure out. Because the game doesnít do things like explain their functions. What it does do is set a weight limit so you canít over-buff yourself on herculean items and stroll through the dungeon unchallenged. This weight limit can be increased in many different ways; you can buy permanent stat buffs from in-dungeon shops, for example. Or you can unlock special item limit perks from your partyís tech grid.

Did I mention you have a backup party? Well, you do. You start out with three well-wishers in your entourage, your adorable little sister, a cave obsessed weirdo and some guy. Each delve allows you to bring along up to three followers who are all assigned friendship points dependent on the strength of your dungeon crawling. You can spend these points on, goodness, so many things. HP boosts, item limit buffs and ore price appreciations. You can unlock special skills for your friends, such as doubling friendship points by killing enemies without taking damage, or unlock new classes for your main character that shake up your stats, like making you a mining god who takes all the ore, but has a paper-thin defence. Or you can spend your points haul on unlocking your partyís friends and thus add to your backup options. Or you can unlock their story sections, where Dungeon Girl finally has a shot at advancing a plot.

Such as it is, anyway. I think the thrust of it is that adorable girls go into a mine, and the food they take is awful and they hate it, so other people try to bake them better things but itís often more awful and everyone laughs. Ha ha ha! Then, because delves only take a few minutes Ė because you can often find an exit every five levels or so -- you ignore all that nonsense and decide to kill a little bit of time on a quick run. Youíre only a few friendship points away from being able to have a second quest line option, after all, and more keys sounds like a good idea. Then you see youíre only a few floors away from a boss fight, and you wonder if youíre at stage in your development where you can take it out. Perhaps youíre not; whatís the harm in grinding up a bit so you have more of a chance next time? Perhaps you are; there are suddenly new dungeon floors to have a little peek at, and whatís another five levels? Then itís 2am, and bloody Dungeon Girl has somehow devoured your entire sodding evening again.

But maybe you can combine some of those shiny new items into a fancy new hat you can use to break down enemy armour levels. Hmmm...


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (August 22, 2018)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted August 22, 2018:

What the hell kind of game is this? Such weirdness -- I struggle to see the appeal if there are no bras being 'levered off.'

Anyway, nice, fairly breezy review. Your score surprised me somewhat -- I expected a 2.5 or a 3 at the most given your tone.

Oh! And I'd be remiss if I didn't poke fun at this:

"...Theyíre important because chests contain items.


Okay. So, items."

You're better than this! Muahahaha. In general, this work was a lot more stream of consciousness-cum-conversational than your usual fare, but it still worked just fine. I don't mind 'talky' transitions, but some folks...
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EmP posted August 22, 2018:

It felt like the best way to talk about the ridiculously vast amount of things Dungeon Girl tires to do. By borderline making fun of the ridiculously vast amount of things Dungeon Girl tires to do. It felt like it would have been very easy to get bogged down it it all, so I tried to breeze through it all to try and make it feel like less of a fact dump. I'm pretty happy with it.

It's a weird kind of game, in that it doesn't actually tell you how to do things but it's involving enough that you want to find out. I enjoyed my time with it. Then Yakuza 0 came along, and no other game has got a look in.

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