Developer: Stately Snail Games & Ratalaika Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games & Rainy Frog Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: First Person, Action & Role-Playing
Release Date: 14th of December, 2017 (NA), 15th of December, 2017 (EU) & 21st of December, 2017 (JP)
First, there was DOOM on Switch and now there is a clone-like DOOM II.
Originally developed by Stately Snail and released on Steam on the 23rd of November, in 2015, One More Dungeon is a first-person shooter that just so happens to double as a dungeon crawler roguelike, so in the event of your death, it’s back to the beginning you go. Yes, it’s one of those games that aren’t for the faint of heart, but thanks to Ratalaika Games, the game with the pixel-art aesthetic of a Minecraft game, with the sense of dread you would find in id Software’s DOOM II, has now found itself a new lease of life.
Right off the bat, with procedurally generated levels, action that plays out at 60fps docked and undocked, One More Dungeon is a game that wants one thing, it wants you to win and escape the dungeon alive, but it no way will it make it easy for you, much like Upfall Studio’s Quest of Dungeons, which also came to Switch earlier this year. Even when playing through the earlier levels, you will find yourself being tested from enemies that will relentlessly pursue you when you try to run away from them. Even the snail enemies will charge at you with pure determination that has them moving at a speed that is most definitely not the usual snail’s pace we’ve heard so much about!
If you run into a corner and get surrounded, you’re dead. You run into a room that you’ve never been in before, take the eye off the ball and get attacked from behind, you’re also dead, so running is never a good idea. What is a good idea, is dodging whenever an opportunity pops up, or attack! With a bladed weapon in your right hand and a magic using, crystal consuming staff in your left, the nameless adventure you play as, is never unharmed, so when trouble comes, be sure to spam the R and L buttons to use their retrospective weapons. Just don’t go spamming the L button all the time, as like I’ve said already, staffs use crystals (green aka acid staffs consume green crystals, with red aka fire/ blue aka ice staffs consuming red/blue crystals.) Crystals can be found dotted around the various levels, with some enemies dropping them when they die, but it is better to have a lot of them for when you walk into a room full of enemies, as opposed to walking into a trap with nothing but an iron dagger.
Fortunately, while the iron dagger is somewhat useless, as it deals very minor damage and is a basic melee weapon, One Mode Dungeon features more than 80 different weapons to be discovered, with one of them being the fiery twin flame shooting Twin Staff and a venomous Acid Axe, which is great at poisoning others and not yourself, so not only can the weapons be used for dealing pain, but they can also deal status effects as well, so if freezing the enemy (of which there are more than 30 enemy kinds, which includes variants,) is something that appeals to you, then One More Dungeon does have you covered. But because weapons and status effects aren’t enough to see you through to victory, there are artifacts. These are powerful relics that can be collected from an alternative world, accessed via portals that only appear once per level, but not necessarily every level.
The alternate dimension can be packed with monsters or have none at all, but if you are able to collect the available artifact from it, such as the Dark Coin, (using it requires Mind Points to restore your health) or the Ruby Eye (use its burning eye to peer through walls to reveal enemy locations that uses 1 Mind Point per second.) The best two however, are the Skeleton Key that lets you open every chest without their actual key, at the cost of 5 Mind Points per second and Guide. Guide will lead you to the level’s Guardian, who once beaten, will drop the seal you need to unlock the door to the next level and yes, with the Guardian beaten, the Guide will then lead you to it. (Talk about handy!)
Where I feel One More Dungeon falls flat on its face though, is the design of the levels themselves. Granted the levels are procedurally generated (8 in total with a final level that is more of a final sequence where our unsung hero must destroy obelisks that are being used by the forces of evil to invade the world,) but sometimes it is very easy to get lost and have no idea where you need to go next. You can press B to display the map and use that to navigate your way around, but you’ll want to toggle it off whenever venturing around corners, just in case there’s a beastie lying in wait. I do like the first-person shooter aspect of it, but while the retro look is great an all, but with more and more retro games coming out, it would be nice to see a decent indie game have something more modern look to it.
Another nagging fact about One More Dungeon is the soundtrack and sound effects, I found them to be off-putting, and honestly, spent most of the time playing the game with it muted, but that is nothing against One More Dungeon’s difficulty. I know I said it was challenging before, but it really does get really hard, really quick and although there are plenty of purchasable modifiers that can make the game even harder or easier thanks to one particular modifier that halves the life of every enemy, but that’s only really any good on the first two levels. After that, you’re on your own, because while the mutator is still in effect, unless you’ve been able to hidden secret areas and arm yourself with more powerful weapons, a lot of caution will be required when navigating, because level 3 is where the descent into hell can begin. There is also a descent into madness awaiting players as well, if they use up so many Mind Points that they slip beneath 20 and go into a state of insanity that can be cured by regaining Mind Points by killing enemies, drinking potions that can restore health, or even Alter of Mind (fully expands Mind by 10 Points.) Incidentally, there are also Health Points that can be expanded by 2 via Alter of Health, but with One More Dungeon being procedurally generated, finding them is as difficult as surviving.
One More Dungeon, is by no means a game changer. It’s just yet another roguelike, now on a console that is getting a lot of roguelikes, but with first-person action, it does have just enough variety and a cheap enough asking price that it does justify a purchase if you feel One More Dungeon is the kind of thing you look for in a game. (Even if you are just in it for getting every achievement One More Dungeon has to offer.)
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Ratalaika Games