Who You Gonna Crow?
If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch the movie Ghostbusters. Not only is it a comedy classic, but it’ll help you to understand the majority of the jokes in Dungeon Crawlers. The first time they dropped a familiar line I chuckled to myself. Then I noticed the names of the three characters you begin with; Aegon, Roy and Payter. In case you were unaware, the names of the three characters in the start of Ghostbusters are Egon, Ray and Peter. Once you come across the dark-skinned Failston, a twist on Winston, the only African American member of the spectral containment squad, it becomes exceedingly clear just how much of an exercise in pop culture lampoonery the game is.
Not all of it is precisely timely. Making fun of M. Night Shyamalan isn’t exactly fresh humor, but then again Ghostbusters is nearly thirty years old. Despite the fact that at some points the entire experience of Dungeon Crawlers seems nothing more than an excuse to rehash quotes, there’s actually a solidly enjoyable game underneath.
Fans of tile-based, strategy RPGs will be right at home here. You have a squad of (eventually) four characters who you send out to do battle with goblins, puddles of goo and other monster tropes. All four have varying abilities based on the standard class system. The first few levels of the game are almost laughably easy. Later, however, the game quickly ramps up the difficulty to the point where losing a character means you’re better off simply starting over as you won’t get him back until the next level.
High End Old School
As with many turn-based, tactical games there’s next to no exploration. Step through a door and there’ll usually be more foes to fight. This will happen even if you’ve already trounced foes in that same room. While Dungeon Crawlers doesn’t boast a deeply nuanced system, the combat is challenging enough. As with so many similar games the primary challenge is presented in terms of sheer numbers. Yet there are also some clever designs where you’re being pressed on one side by melee fighters while archers or spellcasters harass you from behind barricades. In some battles these walls can be torn down. In others they are impregnable. I’ve played a lot of tactical, turn based RPGs. While this isn’t the top dog in the genre, there was a lot of care and effort lavished on this title.
In so many video games boss battles a matter of resource management. Underneath the fanciful names and elaborate back stories so many are just sacks of hit points made difficult by virtue of mathematics. For the most part Dungeon Crawlers is a refreshing change from that norm. The simplistic puzzles behind defeating each boss are, well, simplistic. However, the first was fun and the last was truly daunting on my first few attempts. It may not take long to figure out what has to be done to succeed, but the need for a degree of cogitation makes winning a lot more satisfying.
Rather than adopting a faux-retro, pixilated look the visuals are like a goofy comic strip in three dimensions. Given the unabashedly silly tone, this works well. The enemies could have used a touch more variety. What’s more, an occasional mini-boss pops up with only stronger stats and a different name to set it apart. There’s also no visual difference to your characters when you upgrade their equipment. None of these shortcomings negatively impacted my experience of the game. However, these kinds of extra flourishes are what make some titles rise above the rest.
While not truly innovative, Dungeon Crawlers had me smiling the whole way through. Whether because of a silly joke or a well-executed battle plan, I always found myself thinking “this is a lot of fun.” At the end I had a sense of the campaign being all too brief, but upon reflection that was only because I was genuinely sad it was over. Despite not being the best Android game I’ve tried, this was the one that truly put the ‘play’ back in ‘playing video games’.
Yes. A fun challenge and gamer/nerd in-jokes aplenty.
A rare mix of irreverent and well crafted, Dungeon Crawlers has something to offer for any gamer.