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Dungeon Souls

Blackshell Games is branching out, now they bring us a new game from Lamina Studios called Dungeon Souls, a roguelike experience involving a warrior plundering the depths of a dungeon in search of treasure and eventually death in hope of… are we at the stage World War 2 simulators reached a decade ago yet? Are we over-inundated with roguelike experiences that they’ll honestly go for a while and only come back when their concept feels fresh again? I’m really sorry Lamina studios, it’s not that your game is bad, it’s just that, when it comes on the tail end of so many similar games and without much setting it apart, it’s easy to think maybe this genre should be done for a while?

Gameplay

Please, Lamina Studios, accept my apologies, this isn’t a slight at you as a company, I’m sure you’re wonderful guys, women and whoever else, but at this point, the genre feels played out, it really does. The concept is still the same as your standard roguelike, stumble around a level, kill everything til it’s all dead, find the exit. Hell, you can even create stuff from recipes, buy things from shops and pick up random items from monsters. In most cases, you’re flicking several switches that trigger a plethora of enemies beaming in that must be killed first. Not a bad concept, it plays like an elaborate game of Gauntlet more than anything. Of course, the greatest problem here is that the slower pace reveals the repetitive nature of the game. It’s not as if it’s bad, it’s ok, it just feels like most other roguelike games you’ve played. There’s not a lot new brought to the table here. For the pricing point, that’s not much to complain about really, I guess, but it’d be nice if there were a bit more to it. One other thing… play mouse and keyboard, controller option *sucks*.

Visuals

Blackshell Media to me, has again struck a nice chord in terms of cartoony sprites, I like their style here even more so than their other game Overture, in that the sprites feel more complete and animated. However, I think the Roguelike genre is starting to wane with me. I love their style but I want to see these guys branch out a little more than dungeon, dungeon, dungeon. An over-world style game, with some forests, towns, cityscapes, something. Their art style would really suit it. As it stands though, it really feels like it’s being wasted in these roguelike dungeon games. Blackshell, stretch yourselves and expand! The graphics are good, but you could be doing so much more!

Audio

Music isn’t too shabby, with a suitably epic title tune greeting you at the title and setting the mood for the game. The other audio is suitably decent but nothing overly impressive, swipes as you hit, whooshes as fire goes off. It’s kind of forgettable to be honest? I wish I could write more but it’s really disappearing into a miasma of generic dungeon roguelike sounds?

Value

At $12.99 Dungeon Souls isn’t bad value, however, it’s not the best either. You’ve been here, you’ve done this before. You won’t hate yourself for buying it, but you won’t be patting yourself on the back either. It’s just kind of… vanilla? Like there was this grand, great concept that was executed in the most average way possible? Overture had this maddening, almost insane rate of gameplay, it was like ADHD meets Videogames, but this, this feels like someone slipped it a couple of Xanax and a Valium and said ‘Bro, chill out…’ and that wasn’t a great idea. Again, not a bad purchase, but there’s far more preferable games out there to play first.

Conclusion

Let’s clarify something here before I end this. Lamina studios has created a perfectly playable game, but the genre itself feels like it’s almost played out, the staleness has set in, perhaps it’s in need of an extended break? Dungeon Souls is far from bad, it’s also unfortunately far from great or even very good, it exists in that ‘it’s decent, it’s ok’ realm. Play it if you want, you won’t hate yourself if you buy it I guarantee, but you won’t kick yourself if you don’t. But Lamina hasn’t created a bad game, oh no they haven’t. If this were released a few years back, it probably would’ve gotten a higher praise for being ‘more original’ or whatnot.

But you know what? Maybe I’m just full of it. Maybe this games awesome and my review is just bad. Because that’s entirely possible. I feel the burnout of the Roguelike genre and maybe it’s affected my perspective. I’m just one person, with a potentially skewed viewpoint on this and I recognise that and I don’t want to do Lamina Studios a disservice here. So I’m taking a who week break and having a reflective period on this game…

Two Weeks Later

Ok, two weeks gives some perspective on some matters and really emphasises some others. In some ways, this game is generic. In others, it’s actually a lot more fun than I originally gave it credit for. WHAT A SCHIZOPHRENIC REVIEW. But you know what? I would’ve done Lamina Studios a bloody disservice rushing out a review and I believe in absolute honesty and transparency. So here we are, two weeks later with me writing and you reading this. I hadn’t touched the game in this time period, I got back into it and had a better time, but I immediately noticed three things. Yes, it’s still generic and gets repetitive quickly, but it does have its own sense of charm that shines through thanks to the sprites and sound, it’s this heart that saves it in the end honestly. I can’t give it a low score, that would be a disservice to a team who clearly believe in their game and put their all into it, clearly put it out as a labour of love, but I can’t give a high score to a game that has issues as that would quite frankly be dishonest of me, so… all up…

Score

Ok, taking everything into account including the two-week break (on the upside, I’ve been KILLING these Uni assignments, right?), I’ve decided that a 7 out of 10 is the best score I can possibly give and the game solidly earns it.

710

Pro’s:

  • Great sprites, sincerely, really great.
  • The game has an undeniable charm to it.

Cons:

  • Slow gameplay
  • A bit repetitive
  • Feels unfinished

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