Carve Through Hordes of Enemies to Save a World that Can’t be Saved
Kinto Games’ Bit Dungeon III is the latest installment in a series of 2D, 8-bit rogue-like dungeon crawlers. The retro top-down pixel art style is a nostalgic throwback to classics like 1983’s The Legend of Zelda with an added variety of weapon, gear, and stat choices.
Players can choose one of four characters: skeleton, ghost, demon, or alien. Each has unique initial stat boosts, suggesting which class to play, though you don’t actually pick a class. Once class is selected, your starting weapons put you on track to advance accordingly. Personally, I like to maniacally bash my way through my first play-through of a new game, so I chose the strength-boosted skeleton.
Bountiful Boss Fights in a Looter’s Paradise
Your mission is to defeat the seven archons, who dwell in the dungeons within seven of the world’s randomly generated zones. Their removal summons the final boss, the demiurge, who threatens to destroy everything. Each zone has a distinct landscape, with matching monsters and mini-bosses. The eerie ambient soundtrack enhances the exploration experience much more effectively than the 8-bit EDM rave jams of the prequels. But rest assured, you still get the dungeon-crawler dance party in the end credits. Bring your own glow sticks.
Hack and slash your way through each zone, looting and enchanting gear, discovering hidden areas, and completing side-quests for NPCs who have an awful time keeping track of their belongings. Collect black coins to purchase rare items, and even buy a house to store them in. Item names are reminiscent of old-school D&D-style gear, like my trusty “Strong Helmet of the Ox.” With such a large quantity of items, I wished there were a vendor where I could sell some of my goods or even an inventory expansion option. It seems Kinto Games is fairly responsive to their player base, so perhaps they will make my dreams come true.
Optimized for Keyboard, but Manageable on Mobile
In refreshing contrast to the previous Bit Dungeon games, there is a menu with a list of controls, an overview of the mechanics, and a quest log. Finally. Hooray for goals! Unfortunately, only keyboard controls are available, but it’s fairly intuitive for mobile. There are, however, disadvantages to relying solely on touchscreen tapping. Enemies easily disappear behind your fingers, especially while holding to block or perform power attacks. The auto-attack feature is great for clearing mobs, and definitely saved me from developing carpal tunnel, but can be an issue when trying to evade attacks during boss fights. You try to run away but get stuck auto-attacking in their massive hit boxes.
Plenty of Death to Go Around
At first I was a little underwhelmed, cutting through legions of enemies like a knife through hot butter. Yes, you read that correctly. But each time you defeat an archon, enemies of other zones grow stronger, and everything scales with your character level. Bit Dungeon III is a perma-death game, so once you run out of lives, you have to start all over. Luckily, archon souls grant additional lives. But if an archon defeats you, all those souls get dropped. You can pick them up when you face the archon again, but it’s risky business. Health potions are readily available when you brutally squish the monstrous purple rats that feast on recently smitten foes. Just beware the inevitable trouser-filling jump-scare when they spawn en masse as you are peacefully considering your next move.
Engaging and Diverse with Only Minor Drawbacks
All in all, Bit Dungeon III was rather enjoyable. It felt a bit too easy at first, but after a while, the difficulty scaled appropriately, especially with each new play-though with your same character. More interesting side-quests and additional plot twists would have been nice, but here’s plenty of gear, gore, and stat adjustments to keep things interesting. It’s well worth the $1.99 purchase price.
Is it Hardcore?
Bit Dungeon III is an engaging, fast-paced 8-bit rogue-like mobile game with loads of gear and endless carnage. While plot and inventory-management may be a bit lacking, the combat and gear-hunting certainly make up for it. Additional play-throughs and the ever-looming threat of perma-death keep things interesting and challenging.