Monday, August 8, 2011

Desktop Dungeons Beta Impressions

I've thrown quite a lot of time into the paid beta of Desktop Dungeons and I am quite pleased with my experience so far. I am playing the the second tier pre-order version, the $20 one, and the extra content isn't all that important, but it does add some nice preparations. For anyone wondering what Desktop Dungeons is, check out my short overview of the game from about a week ago. Preview!. In the preview I detail the free version, free version is a demo, and what the pre-order/beta options are, also the gameplay fundamentals. After playing the beta version for many hours, I can easily say that it is much more satisfying and lengthy than the demo version, which should be obvious since it's a demo, but the beta version is immensely different than the demo version. I shouldn't have to mention that this game is in beta, so all of this information (and screenshots) are not representative of the final version or a finished product, just what the game currently is like at the moment. Here is some video of the beta, the only video I could find, if you care to watch it in action.

Desktop Dungeons Beta Gameplay

First and foremost, in the beta you have a homebase, a small town. You run this town and it pretty much starts with nothing, other than a tavern. The tavern dishes out various quests, but there is also the explorers guild. While the tavern offers the meat of the game, (the quests for the dungeons) the explorers guild provides a series of puzzles that reward you with gold. There aren't too many of these puzzles yet, but a few of them are fairly challenging. You start the game with two easy main quests, easy they are, but the game is not. Once you defeat those two dungeons they become random dungeons that you may replay as many times as you like; also, once you do that the town opens up and building options are everywhere. The three following quests are much more difficult. I thought after the first two, hey this isn't as bad the Desktop Dungeon free version, but once I got to those three missions...then I knew it was just as difficult.
The Desktop Dungeons free version was a little annoying sometimes, whether the gods cursed you or the bosses were too powerful, but the beta version gives you so many options to make the game more tactical. Now, through buildings, you can bring preparations with your character to a dungeon. Preparations can be anything from a potion pack to something that shows the layout of all monsters around the shops of a dungeon. All preparations cost money to use, so that is the drawback. Sure you can bring in a sword, shield, potion, armor, but if that all costs you two hundred gold in preparation costs then how much of a profit are you going to make? Every time you defeat a boss, which is the ultimate goal of a dungeon, they drop a trophy that sells based on supply and demand. Defeat too many bosses of the same type and it could end up selling for a measly one hundred gold, but defeat something rare and you may rack up seven hundred gold. There is a taxidermist to track all of the prices and all of your previous trophies. Yes, apparently they make stuffed animals out of all of the bosses.
The town design is fairly simple, but one that works pretty well. You start off with just a fighters guild and a human housing, but through progression of quests you unlock more. You may end up with more than this, but for races it seems to be: Dwarves, Elves, Humans, Gnomes and Halflings. There are also the guilds which each contain three classes. Every building has levels, so if you level up the fighters guild three times then you will have all three classes and several unique preparations. There are quite a few unique classes, all of which have their own traits and graphics. Here is a list of the classes in no specific order: Fighter, Beserker, Warlord, Priest, Monk, Paladin, Wizard, Sorcerer, Blood Mage, Thief, Rogue and Assassin. The four races also have specific attributes to consider, particularly to do with conversions. If you have a item that you find in a dungeon and for whatever reason you do not want to use, you may convert it. Each race has specific amount of conversion points as does every item. For example, for every one hundred conversion points Dwarves get a +1 maximum health increase. So, on top of all the many many classes, you will also mix and match between class and race. One of the ultimate reasons to save money is in order to upgrade all of your buildings, all of which get increasingly more expensive every time you level them up.
Religion, each class has one. So far, each of the religions has been a little bit of a wild card except for the fighter's god. In every dungeon there will be three random altars, hopefully one of which pertains to your class. You gain piety, an actual number that is shown near your life and mana, and you may purchase items or bonuses from your gods altar. Once you start worshiping a god during a dungeon, you cannot stop, so for the love of your tiny little life, make sure you know who you are worshiping and what makes them happy. You absolutely positively do not want to make your god mad, that almost always ends in a no win situation. That brings up this, you may escape a dungeon at anytime, but all you will gain from it is whatever gold you have on you (never more than fifty pieces). The fighters god is by far my favorite, because that god is simple to understand and gives you fantastic options for rewards.

The mages god feels very underpowered, but it could just be that I really suck at being a successful wizard. I complain about the mages god for several reasons, but mainly because every single *reward*, except for one has a negative attached to it. For instance, you can increase your fireball spell power (the main damage spell), but you lose half of your physical attack, meaning you must be able to solely take down a enemy with magic. When compared to the fighters god it just seems sad. The fighters god gives you five items, each of which for for less piety than the fireball reward from the mages god, and they each give you great bonuses, like bonus to attack, bonus to physical defense, bonuses to magic defense and protection from one death. My only big complaint about this games religious system is that some gods track your deeds throughout the dungeon, even before you start worshipping them, so if you have done pleasing things before you join them, then you start with a bunch of piety, but not all of the gods. It may be a bug, or it may be intentional, but at least half of the gods don't give you any bonuses for actions that you have done before worshipping them. That's a tad bit unbalanced.
The combat in the game seems really straightforward and simple at first, but it becomes increasingly complicated and strategic as the game progresses. You start with simple strategies, like just killing everything your level or below and not trying any enemies too hard, but when enemies are thrown in that cause you to lose your mana, or they corrode your weapons, or poison you, then you really have to think about every action carefully. Despite my few complaints, this is a really great rogue-like rpg and it only seems to be getting better. Also, great support; in the week that I've been playing it, it has had two patches. One particular aspect that makes this game more inviting than most rogue-like games is the graphics. Sure the graphics seem pretty minimal, but they are very pleasant and detailed. The extra touches make the game feel more professional, like every race having their own graphics for every class is a nice cosmetic touch. Also, the dungeon designs are impressive, despite that they are random to an extent, but they are all based on specific ideas and uniquely varied. Right now you can preorder the game and play the beta for a minimum of $10. If you are a fan of rogue-like games with a lot of attractive rpg elements, then certainly check this game out. I'm gonna head back in for some more dungeon runs, and I will probably die, but that's part of the fun. Thanks for reading.

Desktop Dungeons-

-Written by Sean Cargle


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