This is the second review that I’ve written for Enchanted Cave. My first review completely trashed the game, but after playing it for a bit longer I had to drag my old review to the recycle bin and restart a new review from scratch. Why? Enchanted Cave grew on me. It gave me an absolutely terrible first impression, but as I played the game I gradually came to appreciate it… but just barely. When I first started the game, I was struck by how bad the graphics are. The game is ugly, and not in a “we’re paying an homage to old school gaming” kind of ugly, either. It feels like more of a “the developer clearly isn’t a skilled artist” kind of ugly. I tried to let that not bother me too much—after all, there are plenty of good games out there that are also graphically unimpressive, right? The gameplay wasn’t much better. Basically, each dungeon level is a small room where monsters guard treasures chests and sacks of gold. You run up to a monster, which starts an automated combat where you and the beast wallop on each other until one of you is dead. This is standard fare as far as RPGs go, except for one big problem: that’s it. For the first 20 or so dungeon levels, there are no special abilities, no commands, no spells… it’s just you and a monster bumping into each other until one dies. The spells that you do eventually get don’t add much depth. For the most part, the only tactical combat decisions that you ever need to make is “Do I want a sword that gives +5 attack or +10 attack? Hmm…” The bulk of the strategy lies in resource management. The only healing comes from shops (you appear sporadically throughout the dungeon) and potions, which are extremely rare. Consequently, every dungeon level is like a puzzle where you have to get the most treasure while fighting the fewest monsters. Alternatively, you can pump your offensive stats as high as humanly possible with the hopes of one-shotting monsters, in which case you want to kill everything that moves. The biggest disappointment comes with the magical wings. You’ll occasionally loot angel wings from chests, which give you the ability to teleport back to the nearest shop for healing. That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that you lose all of your non-magical gear, including the gear you have equipped. If you aren’t fully decked out in magical gear, you have to buy new gear from scratch every time you heal. That sort of design is unintuitive, tedious, and the exact opposite of fun. That being said, the game kind of grew on me. It is genuinely a challenge to get as deep in the dungeon as possible, and there’s something satisfying about replacing your dinky 10 attack sword with a 35 attack upgrade. I found myself wanting to play the game again, but I was immediately disappointed every time I picked it back up. Enchanted Cave has a lot of potential, but ultimately it falls short. It’s nearly devoid of strategy and player choice, and by the time you get any spells you might be too close to death for it to make any difference. It felt like luck was more important than player skill because the only way to get stronger was to loot good items from chests, and in most of the dungeon levels I was operating on a very rudimentary algorithm. This game could have been one of my all-time favorites if the developer had just designed the game a bit differently: add in more spells, create character classes, make advancement level-based rather than gear-based, incorporate more opportunities for player choice, and (most importantly) hire a decent artist. If you’re a huge fan of rogue-like dungeon crawl games, then you might be able to get past the poorly conceived game mechanics and the substandard graphics to find a somewhat playable game. All the other Android gamers out there should probably pass on Enchanted Cave and spend their money on something more substantial… and more fun.
Roguelike fans may be able to tolerate it, but for most gamers the wonky mechanics won’t justify the price tag.