Role playing games really aren’t my bag. Yeah, I played the first Zelda and I’ve played my share of RPGs, including a Final Fantasy, but overall they just don’t stick. Most RPGs just require too much paying attention and micromanagement. But there are a few exceptions.
Back to basics
The original Legend of Zelda is a basic RPG. You explore mazes and dungeons while fighting bad guys to collect money and finding special items. You also had to manage your inventory to equip items to use in certain situations. It was a good balance of exploring, fighting and managing. But from here RPGs just got more and more complicated.
Excluding “action” RPGs like Metal Gear, I get bored with most traditional RPGs. With the exception of Final Fantasy III and Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier, both which I played pretty far in (but still haven’t finish), most RPGs just require that I pay too much attention. Too much reading, too much knowing where and what to do next, too many characters…if I have to take notes it’s not worth it.
Epic Dungeon, you have to go forward to go back
Given all that, it makes me happy when I find an role playing game I can tolerate. So I’m happy to report that the first game released during the Indie Game Winter Uprising, Epic Dungeon, is a throw back to the RPGs I enjoyed as a child. Epic Dungeon is simple but pretty challenging and better yet, it’s only a dollar.
On the down side, Epic Dungeon looks like it pre-dates Legend of Zelda, but for what it lacks in looks it makes up with speed and simple RPG fun. There’s no turn-based fighting here…there’s not even any choice in fighting, you fighting automatically whenever you run into a bad guy. And following the normal RPG formula, as you kill goblins and spiders you earn experience, gold and collect dropped items.
But what I think makes Epic Dungeon special is a technical feature that is something I’ve been trying to apply successfully in my own video games – randomness. Epic Dungeon (seems) to use random dungeon generation every time you play, so it will never be the same. Of course, the dungeons themselves are less important than straight up hacking and slashing. Naturally, you can equip better weapons, armor and other items to turn yourself into a powerful dungeon slayer.
Fun but far from perfect
If there’s anything Epic Dungeon lacks it’s clear communication. Yes, I complained about RPGs that have too much reading and managing, but there is also something as not having enough. There are lots of items in the game and too often I found myself not knowing what will happen (or what won’t happen). The game assumes you’ve played RPGs, which might be fair but I think they take a few too many liberties. During one of my adventure I made the mistake of equipping a cursed quarterstaff that I couldn’t de-curse. This resulting in running out of life somewhere around level 15. Considering there are 50 levels in the game, I have a ways to go.
But even with that frustration, Epic Dungeon manages to make average level grinding a lot of fun. Between your equipped weapon and your selected superpower, you can get your character jacked up pretty quick. Of course, you do have choices when it comes to upgrades so you can have some fun there too. However, one of the most enjoyable and infuriating parts of the game is the simple “choose-your-own-adventure” encounters. Similar to good old fashioned D&D, there parts in the game where you’re given a choice to do something, like open a treasure chest. There’s no rhyme nor reason to these encounters…no tricks or secrets, just plain old luck. when you score a bonus, you smile, and when you unleash hell, you frown (and swear).
If you have even a mild interest in RPGs, then Epic Dungeon is worth your dollar. But if you’re used to the fancy cinematics and complex gameplay of modern RPGs, then you will probably find Epic Dungeon laughable. But before you dismiss this game as indie crap, just remember where our beloved modern RPGs came from and give Epic Dungeon a chance. It’s a buck…not exactly a gamble.
Epic Dungeon is the first game released during the week of the Indie Games Winter Uprising. There are a lot more games on the way and I’ll be covering many of them. Stop by the Uprising web site for the official list of upcoming games.