Bonus Rounds are short, 5-minute musings on quirky titles that either end up hidden down the back of the sofa, or lost among the endless pile of Steam games and Bundles you own, but have never got around to playing. These could be reviews of PC, iOS or console games, Early Access titles, games made as part of a Game Jam, and so on. They’ll predominantly be games made by indie developers, and usually (but not always) published on a Sunday.
Deep Dungeons of Doom is a game that on the surface promises a lot, but in reality delivers very little. Its appearance suggests a title similar to Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP or Legend of Dungeon – both games utilizing the retro-pixelated look. Both games which provide a gaming experience far deeper than their simplistic appearance conveys. Deep Dungeons of Doom however, through no real fault of its own, is unfortunately as basic as it looks.
What’s immediately jarring is the fact that there’s no walking or movement of any kind. Controls consist primarily of tapping just two buttons (three if you include the occasional usage of items): one for defend, and one for attack. Do this at the appropriate time and you’ll plough through a variety of pixelated monsters one after another, after another, after another. At its height, it feels like a hypnotic mix of a never-ending quick time event, with a dash of rhythm tapping. However you describe it though, it’s certainly fun – for the first 30 minutes.
Deep Dungeons of Doom’s main problems are that of repetition and relative ease. Death means starting the often long-winded dungeons right from the start, whilst there’s only so much longevity and fun to be had by pressing two buttons and an occasional third (gaming has fortunately moved on a bit since the days of Hyper Sports). After spending some time with it, I felt like something was missing.
The reason why it isn’t hard to figure out – Deep Dungeons of Doom started life as an iOS game back in 2013. The constant stream of gaming ‘targets’ giving you coins once completed, the basic controls, the repetition, the starting of the level again once defeated – all classic mobile gaming tactics designed to entice you to have “one more go”.
There are plenty of games out there which offer plenty of fun whether you’re playing them on mobile or PC, of course – X-Com: Enemy Unknown, The Banner Saga, and Blizzard’s excellent Hearthstone, among many others, provide dozens of hours of entertainment regardless of whether you play them using a mouse or a touchscreen. And there are plenty of mobile games with streamlined game design which manage to be incredibly fun – Mega Dead Pixel, iCycle and Super Hexagon. Unfortunately, Deep Dungeons of Doom is too limited to hold much long-term appeal.
Deep Dungeons of Doom lives and dies by its mobile-centric design. It’s a cute RPG-light game purely designed for quick blasts on your phone – and to this end it achieves its aim with aplomb. However, once you move this format onto PC, you quickly begin to see its limitations. Its gameplay simply doesn’t have the complexity or variety to hold your attention for longer than incredibly short sessions. Couple this with sloppy control porting (having to click and drag the map around the with mouse cursor, clearly a remnant of moving around the map via touch) and the novelty soon wears off.
While it lasts though, what Deep Dungeons of Doom lacks in depth it makes up for in its charming presentation and humor. There’s a good variety of monsters to defeat, several characters you can play as, and basic skill trees to work your way through. The storyline is littered with tongue-in-cheek references and irreverent quips, whilst characters are given a good layer of personality via several comedic conversations. The creators certainly had fun making it, and it’s clear that they spent time on it – this isn’t yet another cash-grab. It’s just a shame that if as much love and effort went into the game mechanics as the script, Deep Dungeons of Doom could have been something special.
Deep Dungeons of Doom highlights some of the main differences between mobile and console / PC gaming, proving that certain games shouldn’t be ported away from their intended platforms. As a mobile game, it’s just about worth a download and offers enough fun to justify its existence, even if it won’t last long before you delete it to make room for something else. The simple controls are perfect for touch screens, the repetitive gameplay is suited to quick blasts, whilst the added RPG-light elements give players more than just an endless runner. As a PC game however, these elements only serve to create a shallow, repetitive and ultimately disappointing experience.