Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code
Title: One More Dungeon
System: Playstation 4/Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 12/14/2017
Right off the bat I need to state how this game just looks absolutely horrible, not because it’s a first-person game (something I used to not stand thanks to games like Paranautical Activity giving me a bad impression on the genre until recently, thanks to giving Duke Nukem 3D a shot) but instead because the whole game just looks so damn generic. The menus leading into the game are as by-the-numbers as you can imagine, and when it comes to the actual game itself, you can tell they went for the blocky pixel art route solely to make things easier while trying to cash in on nostalgia, and not the kind that would benefit a game like this, such as pixel art that would resemble the ID Software games of old instead of the done-to-death Minecraft style. The cute nod to the original DOOM in the bottom left of the UI is the only thing the game gets right in that regard, since by default the field of view is atrocious and gave me brief motion sickness in no time at all (which I quickly resolved by changing the setting to the lowest possible option, a godsend this game provides as it made the game a bit more tolerable to look at, ugly visuals aside) and nearly every enemy, texture and item in the game looks as if they were pulled straight out of a Minecraft mod, making the game look like a hideous mismash of generic pixel vomit. At least the colors of the dungeon do change the deeper you go, which is a touch they could have easily chose to ignore.
The music isn’t nearly as unbearable, thankfully, but it does consist of a lot of pretty boring tunes, randomly selected whenever you start a new run or reach the next floor. Some tunes are better than others, and it isn’t nearly as hard on the senses as the visuals, but it also isn’t something you’ll want to stick on your MP3 player. Still, it’s good they didn’t go for generic chiptune tracks and instead went for normal instruments.
Starting up the game, after your inevitable reaction to the poor presentation, you may then be impressed at what this game seems to offer, with quite a few achievements to unlock and plenty of special adjustments to the game (known as “Mutators”) to purchase using the score earned from prior attempts, indicating a high replay value.
Unfortunately, when you get into the actual game, it’s quickly evident that those elements are just a disguise from the true nature of this game. You see, not only is One More Dungeon a first-person adventure with a randomly generated floors, but it’s also a roguelike, meaning that like Quest of Dungeons, Vertical Drop Heroes and the spooky Paranautical Activity, it carries the trope of forcing you to start from the beginning of the game upon death, with some elements retained to change up future attempts. In the case of One More Dungeon, the aforementioned Mutators act as this game’s method of encouraging the player to give the game one more try, with the option to help the player in ways such as giving the player more help or letting them have a higher defense to hindering the player by making the game even more difficult to see or having enemies do more damage.
There’s just a big problem when it comes to unlocking them: You’ll have to score up a lot of points over the course of multiple playthroughs, which sounds fine, as trial and error is pretty much the entire point of roguelikes, introducing ways to get players to try and try again, but also letting experts or those who get the hang of the game have things done perfectly fine on only the first few attempts. Needless to say, One More Dungeon is not a game that benefits from this system, as not only are the generated dungeons dull to explore to begin with, but most of the time the game looks to create floors where enemies can abruptly ambush you out of nowhere with little time to react, and with your default equipment there’s barely any hope of fighting them unless you equip a mutator or get really lucky and find a new weapon or health upgrade on the first floor.
You see, your attacks are done with the L and R buttons, with one weapon being a crappy close-ranger knife attack that’s impossible to hit certain enemies with due to the fact that they will always outspeed you and hit you right back, and the other type of weapon being a magical staff that shoots a projectile depending on the amount of energy crystals you have collected. (The color of the wand determines the color of the crystal it requires, and some may require multiple colors) Since the ammo is limited for the projectile weapons, you’re pretty much stuck with the insanely clunky melee combat, which for a first-person game like this does not work well in the slightest.
Alas, after plenty of trial and error I was able to make it to floor two after finding some keys, both to open treasure chests that contained handy items like health potions and better equipment and also to open the exit door, only for the game to take a big spike in difficulty. Not a natural spike mind you, but rather one so jarring and sudden that it pretty much pushes the point home of having the game require those mutators in order to improve your runs, lest you survive by dumb luck or mastering the clunky melee combat. Yet despite all I was able to do without any mutators equipped, I only managed to get a measly 600 points or so, which means in order to get the best ones in the game, you’ll have to do a lot of dying and retrying. No thank you, six attempts was all I could handle, mutators or not.
In conclusion, One More Dungeon ended up being one of the worst experiences I dealt with this year. Not because it was a buggy mess, nor because it had tons of gameplay faults, but it was rather just because of how everything felt generic. The hideous artstyle, the boring music, the boring gameplay, and the atrocious way the game tries to pad out things by attempting to provide the “one more try” feeling (hence the game’s title) only for it to become nothing more than a boring, frustrating waste of time. Even for first-person shooter or dungeon crawler fans, there are plenty of better options on the market that represent the retro times a lot better than this clunky wreck of a game. If you want something that’ll fit your dungeon crawling needs on the Switch, Quest of Dungeons is a much better alternate, and first-person fans can discover a few higher-quality FPS experiences on the eShop as well. I give One More Dungeon a 2 out of 10.