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Quest of Dungeons Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . A clever concept isn't enough to rescue Quest of Dungeons from its repetitive gameplay. The pixel graphics look good and the mechanics are unique, but it's all stretched too thin. Still, even with its many problems, this charming role-playing game can be a great deal of fun for long stretches of time. Quest of Dungeons is a mixed bag. Rating: 64%
Quest of Dungeons
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Stop me if you've heard this one before: When an evil skeleton covers the world in darkness, it's up to a brave hero to explore the cavernous depths and restore order. This unoriginal set-up is the jumping off point for Quest of Dungeons, the brand new Xbox One roguelike from Upfall Studios. And while the story may not inspire much confidence, the unique approach will.

At first blush, Quest of Dungeons looks like an 8-bit Gauntlet clone. It sees simple pixel characters poking around small rooms in a large multi-floor dungeon. But this is no fast-paced arcade game. Instead we get a challenging role-playing game that forces players to take it one step at a time. The result is a fun, yet wildly inconsistent adventure full of high tension and unexpected deaths.

Players choose from a series of unique characters, including your basic warrior, wizard, assassins and shaman. Each fighter comes with their own attributes and weapons. For example, the warrior is strong and fast, while the assassin is slow and better at taking enemies out at long range. There are also characters with a strong command of magic spells, giving them a leg up when going up against the dungeon's many enemies.

While not exactly turn-based, Quest of Dungeons also isn't running in real time. Enemies will only move and attack when you take a step. So if you move two spaces, the enemies will take two turns. Stand still and everything will stop and wait for you to make a move. The approach reminded me of a sped-up version of Final Fantasy Tactics, only this time the hero is all by himself and the menus are mapped to face buttons.

No matter what character you choose, the goal is always the same. It's your job to wander through a series of floors fighting off bad guys, collecting rare loot, leveling up, battling bosses and defeating the skeleton that started this whole mess. But beware, death is final. You not only start over from the beginning, but the game rips away all your stats, gear and items. All progress is gone for good.

Quest of Dungeons (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

While the game can be devilishly difficult, there are long stretches where you'll complain that it's too easy. Assuming you don't simply rush from one floor to the next, your hero will quickly level up beyond most of the enemies and dominate every room. This is especially true as you learn new spells and special attacks. There's a shop keeper on each floor with powerful weapons for sale, plus treasure chests filled with rare equipment.

But it only takes a few seconds for everything to spiral out of control. While the standard enemies may be pushovers, the bosses will put up a nasty fight. These tough characters are able to kill our hero in just a few swipes, forcing the player to think strategically and use every skill in the book. But there are times when even that won't be enough. It's easy to get in over your head and have no escape route. It's hard not to feel completely gutted after an hour of careful exploration is undone by a few swipes of an overpowered boss.

Like most games in the genre, Quest of Dungeons is all about procedurally generated levels. You'll recognize repeating color schemes, but the layout will always change. Unfortunately, this isn't enough to keep the game from becoming repetitious. Even with the slight change in scenery from one floor to the next, everything begins to look the same and the missions all bleed together after a while.

Quest of Dungeons (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Once you've defeated the evil skeleton and brought light back to the land, the game will open up a second quest filled with new, more challenging dungeons to explore. Here you'll fight through different locations, collect fresh gear and play as a brand new character. It doesn't fix any of the problems I have with the repetition, but it's nice to have a little more variety.

For all its problems, I can't deny that I had a good time chopping my way through the dungeons. Although simple, the gameplay manages to feel different from other role-playing games. There are some clever ideas here that remind me of the type of thing Half-Minute Hero was doing a few years ago. But these clever ideas are stretched too thin and the good times are intermixed with moments of complete rage.

Quest of Dungeons has a great concept that's only half-baked. There's not enough depth to keep the game fresh and the rounds last so long that they end up devolving into mindless repetition. Worst of all, the abrupt difficulty spikes suck a lot of the fun out of an admittedly unique RPG. This is a concept I would like to see tied to a larger, more ambitious adventure game.
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