Minesweeper Goes Dark Souls – Dungelot: Shattered Lands Review (PC)
What happens when you cross Minesweeper with elements of RPGs and the trend of ‘rogue like’ games? Dungelot: Shattered Lands apparently. The Russian made indie title feels experimental in nature, but more than solid in design. Dungelot has already made a name for itself over on Mobile platforms, but now it fancies a crack at a new platform.
For a game with its origins deeply tied to mobile phones, Dungelot: Shattered Lands does a fair job of selling the plot. You take upon the role of a warrior tasked with tackling an all powerful evil. Venturing through various dungeons, fighting enemies, the standard fantasy tropes. Dungelot pokes fun at itself, and the genre, when ever it gets the chance. The resulting effect is turning a so-so plot into a humours jaunt through self deprecation and parody.
The core gameplay is simple but holds hidden depth. Each level consists of tiles which must be clicked on in order to smash open. Each title has the chance of revealing a number of possibilities. From treasure, loot and keys to enemies, it’s up to the player which tiles they click and what order they do so.
Uncovering enemies forces the player into combat. Success is determined by various factors such as equipment and armour. Attacks are made by simply clicking on the target enemy, from there it boils down to invisible dice rolls to see what damage is done and if there’s any knocking on effects. For such a simple mechanic, the tiny cogs that produce the final result all carry weight.
Progressing through each level isn’t a simple case of killing every enemy, in fact it’s often discouraged. With limited resources at hand, players are nudged towards avoiding enemy encounters in favour of finding the key to unlock the next area. It’s not that 100% clearing a level reaps no rewards, loot and spells are often found, it’s just death can typically be a click away.
While clicking on the enemy till it ceases to be may sound dull, the range in items and equipment constantly freshens the combat up. As the game goes on enemies become much harder, forcing the player to invest in new gear. Weapon choices start off basic, offering extra damage and critical chance. Later choices start to open up weapon effects and other forms of damage, which heavily counters some enemy types.
Given the RPG themes, Dungelot contains its own levelling system. Choosing between various stats to improve, players can sculpt their character to fit a desired style of play. It’s not exactly deep or expansive, but the level of input it offers does a fairly decent job of producing the desired effect.
Continuing the influence of classic RPG gameplay is the random text-based encounters littered around the game. During general play, text windows pop open describing a situation requiring the player to make a choice. These choices can either reward or punish the player, it’s all down to a mixture of luck and familiarity with typical RPG tropes.
The only area in which Dungelot: Shattered Lands could be criticised for is it’s difficulty curve. With no options to change difficulty, the jump in challenge may not be to everyone’s liking. Dice roll based combat games will always have a element a luck in them. Combine that with high difficulty and there’s plenty of room for frustration to grow.
Dungelot: Shattered Lands is a surprisingly compelling little gem. Its comedic edge, mixed with impressive depth, gives the game a wonderful touch of charm. While it may be hard at times, the overall experience is both satisfying and engaging. Costing a mere £6.99, there’s hours of enjoyment here to be explored, as long as you don’t mind a bit of chance in your video games.
Developer: Red Winter Software
Also Known For: Punch Club, Party Hard