Guild of Dungeoneering Review (PC)
Before I start telling you about this game in any way, shape or form I want to give a small forewarning to all of you wonderful and patient readers. This game is bloody infuriating. You have to relinquish all rights to full control and for a person who needs to have full control over a situation it is insanely upsetting. This is by no means a reflection on the game or the developers so therefore please bear that in mind when reading this review, thank you.
Lets start now, shall we? The small indie game studio from Dublin, Ireland known as Gambrinous (which is defined as drunk or full of beer and I sincerely hope that is why they called themselves that) are responsible for this fun, time absorbing, “can easily put you in a bad mood” game. Guild of Dungeoneering is a “turn-based dungeon crawler with a twist”. The twist being that you have absolutely no control over your little minions guild members. You do not decide where they go while exploring. You can entice and guide them but you have absolutely no say whatsoever in whether or not your enticing and guiding leads them to where you want them to go. How do you entice them? Gold and glory of course!
You start off the game where you have just written an entry into your journal (I’m assuming) complaining about how you’ve been rejected from the most notable guild in the land due to your “gross incompetence” so therefore you decide to “borrow” money from this guild and start your own guild! With blackjack and hook– Ahem, excuse me, I got a little carried away. You purchase a hall in the bad part of town and start your own guild with your very own Chump. That’s right, you have a dimwit under your employ who will do all the dirty work for you while you just sit back with your feet up and a nice cold/hot drink to pass the time.
You have to build up your guild and your team of dungeoneers. You are given a barracks card (yes, that’s right, card) to begin with which you place down adjoining your guild hall as you please in order to unlock your Chump for adventuring purposes. You can rename all of your adventurers if you wish but really you don’t have to as the developers have done very well in their naming of absolutely everything. It is now time for you to go exploring! You take your expendable little halfwit and delve into a dungeon where a very short and sweet tutorial takes place.
There are multiple dungeons you can discover and each dungeon has its own goal/quest to complete. It could be from looting all of the treasure to killing all/a number of the monsters. Sometimes you’ll need to complete specific tasks while a turn counter ticks down in the corner. Each dungeon starts out with a certain amount of tiles placed down which will relate to the intended goal. You then need to build the dungeon and guide/entice your explorer through it to complete the goal. This is done using your different decks of cards which are a key element to the entire gameplay.
The entire game is played with decks of cards. There are two different decks of cards that you use while exploring. The first deck is full of cards which help you to guide your explorer around the dungeons that you are plundering. This deck consists of three different types of cards; blue Seek cards, red Dread cards and yellow Hope cards. You will draw 5 random cards from your deck and can place a maximum of 3 cards per turn. You do not need to place any cards if you so choose and you can then end your turn with a handy little button above your drawn cards. There are benefits to adding cards even if you never go near them in the dungeon run.
Shall I tell you a bit more about these cards? I’ll tell you a bit more about these cards. Seek cards are rooms and corridors that you place down to build the dungeon. Some of these cards will have a fountain which looks like a small potted plant which shows that that particular tile has the chance to have either a positive or negative effect when your dungeoneer lands on it. If they are yellow you gain a positive trait, if they are red then you gain a negative trait. They’re essentially like little traps which adds to the aesthetic of a dungeon.
Seek cards allow your explorer to reach the goal tiles and they also add towards your explorers “glory” points which are important for building your guild. You gain a glory point for placing a Seek tile and another glory point once you “explore” it. Each of these Seek cards are covered in a clouded haze until your adventurer sets foot on them, therefore discovering them. You also gain glory points from the Hope cards which are bits of treasure like gold coins or giant gems and the likes. These cards are placed on top of Seek tiles and each have their own value of glory placed upon them. You only gain these glory points if you land on and collect the loot. These cards are great for enticing your adventurer to go on certain tiles (for the most part).
Dread cards work much the same as Hope cards but these cards are monsters. You can put monsters down in your path in order to help level up your adventurer while they traverse the dungeons. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it makes things worse and you die. Each Seek card can hold a monster, a Hope item and a fountain. Each monster has it’s own level, skills and abilities. The higher the level of a monster, the more difficult it is to vanquish. Makes sense right?
You also gain better loot from killing higher level monsters as well which is nice. Once you kill a monster you get to choose one of three Hope cards which have loot items within them. Your hero can wear an item on their head, in their offhand, their weapon hand and on their body. These items give them different bonuses to either their health, their traits or their skills. They also add additional cards to their battle deck which can be very useful depending on where you are and what you’re aiming to achieve.
Your battle deck consists of cards which do physical or magical damage, block physical or magical damage and sometimes cards that can do both. Enemies also have battle decks and some cards are really harsh if you don’t have the right cards to defend/retaliate with. When you start a battle you draw 3 cards from your deck and your opponent draws the first card from their deck. There are cards you can gain that allow you to have a higher starting hand but there are also cards that your opponent can use to reduce the number of cards in your hand as well. Basically, for every positive you can get there is an equal negative card out there.
Levelling up your adventurer isn’t persistent, and they start at fresh out of the womb in every single dungeon. You do not get to keep any of the loot that was gained in any previous dungeons either. This is a big downfall for me but I’ll explain why later. You do get to keep the glory points you gain however, as you need these to build more rooms and recruit more dungeoneers for your guild. Another massive problem I have with the battles is that every card drawn is random and, despite your dungeoneer having a card that could block that 3 damage attack card coming at you, if it is sitting in your deck but not in your hand? You are shit out of luck.
So there you have the basics of the game. You have two decks which I shall call Explore (I don’t think the Devs gave this deck a name) and Battle (the devs actually called this one Battle, I’m just unoriginal). You gain glory by exploring rooms, looting treasure and killing monsters. This glory is then spent to hire new dungeoneers and to build new rooms within your guild. When you defeat “Boss” monsters you gain a trophy room which have some very funny little items that you collect as you go through the game. You gain a graveyard once your first explorer dies and you can then look back on their tombstones and see what you decided to engrave on their epitaph.
Even if your dungeoneer dies, you get the glory points that they earned during their dungeon run, no matter how measly a number it is. There are three “shops”; Might, Magic and Loot, and each has three tiers of items to buy. On tier one each purchase will cost 50 glory points, tier two it will cost 500 glory points and tier three will cost 2000 glory points. Purchasing these items give you access to new and more powerful dungeoneers as well as Blessings from the gods that give you additional bonuses to start with on your next dungeon run.
The premise of this game is fun and quirky, but ultimately I find it simply frustrating. Yeah, sure, you get to grow a guild house full of little minions that do all the work but you don’t really get anything from it. I love the premise of the game and for what it is it’s highly entertaining. It’s good fun to play despite the amount that you die due to poor luck with the cards and it is amazing to look at even when you are watching your poor little dungeoneers faces being ripped to shreds when they die.
Looking at the game from a technical aspect I can see just how much work the Devs put into polishing the final product. I first played this game while it was still in beta and I found that there were quite a few technical bugs and glitches but since the release update I haven’t seen any glitches or bugs so kudos to Gambrinous for the awesome clean up on their game.
Despite my complaints there are some things I love about this game. The artwork is one of my favourite things and I cannot fault it. The music score is amusing as hell and competes against the artwork for the number one spot for me. The game is interesting enough and works really well for what it is. It is definitely a game that you can lose a lot of your time playing, but the sense of achievement is diluted by the fact that you don’t get to keep any of the loot or levels that you gain going through dungeons.
Honestly the main thing that this game is missing for me personally is just the sense of achievement. I reach my goals only to be told “good job” whilst being kicked so hard that I lose everything I worked for besides “glory” points that actually take a long time to save up in order to afford the higher level purchases at the shops.
All in all the game is good but I have a feeling it may be a Marmite kind of situation. I have one last note to give before I depart however and that is; if you are a person of little or no patience… Do not play this game.
7 dungeoneers departed out of 10