This is a screenshot of the video game Desktop Dungeons, featuring the player's character Padre Rooibos, a level three Orc Crusader wearing a shield and a Hero's Helm, traversing a desert.

Desktop Dungeons Review

Genre | Roguelike, RPG, Puzzle
Developer | QCF Design
Platforms | PC, OSX

Desktop Dungeons is a turn-based fantasy RPG with short, replayable levels containing a number of randomized elements. Players select from an assortment of character types, then battle through a dungeon to find and kill its boss. Occasionally this is impossible.

Desktop Dungeons has seven playable races and eighteen classes. There are thirteen magical spells, seventy four equippable items, and nine potions. Many of these options are unlocked by completing quests within the game’s twenty eight dungeons, or by paying gold to upgrade buildings on the Kingdom screen between levels. Gold is primarily obtained by stuffing and selling pieces of dead bosses. The character the player controls may worship nine different gods to acquire different boons. The player may also worship these gods, which does not provide any bonus in the game.

In Desktop Dungeons, the primary way to recover from injuries after a battle is by visiting new locations. Whenever a new area of the dungeon is explored, the darkness there is lifted and the player’s character regains a portion of health and mana, as do all wounded monsters. This supply of regenerative darkness tiles is limited by the finite size of the dungeon. Powerups, NPCs, item shops and sub-dungeons may also be discovered in the darkness. Spells, potions, prayer, and leveling up can be used to restore health and mana without exploration.

The graphics in Desktop Dungeons are in a hand drawn style. The graphics depict colorful medieval fantasy characters with heads as large as their bodies. Tile-based walls, floors, and blood stains feature prominently. The dungeon is shown from a top-down perspective, with most of the characters lying on their back or side and looking up at the player. Many environments are portrayed, including deserts, jungles, volcanoes, arctic terrain, and eponymous dungeons. There is a Kingdom screen that can be upgraded with graphics of increasingly lavish structures. The menu screens in Desktop Dungeons look like parchment but behave like digital menus rather than actual parchment. The animations include particle effects during combat, exploration, and spellcasting. Sound effects are of sword slashes, magical spells, wordless choral notes, clinking coins, and a gulping noise when potions are consumed. The music is orchestral in style.

Monsters in Desktop Dungeons do not actively move around or take aggressive action, and will fight back only when attacked. The bosses shout a monologue when approached, which include lines such as “I’ll plunge my sword into every inch of your feeble flesh until you scream blood and cough up bone shards” and “be a dear and strike a dashing pose, would you?” Otherwise, they are similarly passive. This allows the player to bypass dangerous enemies and return to kill them later. The player may also attempt to kill a high level monster with a low level character for bonus experience points. Optional tutorials and puzzle dungeons are provided which teach the player how to exploit the game’s systems with each character class and religion. There are eight puzzles about pushing trolls. Downloadable content can be purchased by players who wish to make the game harder and be a goat.

This is a score for an objective game review. The score is a 9 out of 10.