Dungeon Deep is an impressive debut from developer LemcnSun Entertainment. It may look a bit crude on the surface, but in pure gameplay terms it’s a slick and accessible take on the roguelike RPG.
The setup couldn’t be simpler or more conventional: you’re a dwarf, and you want mead. Done.
This quest lands you on an 8×6 grid made up of tiles with different symbols on them. These are runes, and you collect them by swiping the screen horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to drag your dwarf in their direction. As long as runes are connected at the edges or the corners, you can string together whole lines and clusters and collect them all at once.
At the outset, the runes are a gold coin, an axe, a red health potion, and a shield, and these all serve a purpose in your grid-based dungeon-raiding exploits.
The axe lets you slash away at the skeletons that enter the dungeon and attack you, with each axe you collect en route to the target adding more ATK points. You can string attacks together, too, taking out clusters of enemies at once if they’re imprudent enough to stand side by side.
The shield and health potion do what shields and health potions always do, and we’ll get to the coins later.
It’s a simple premise, but the complexity quickly ramps up. Hang around for long enough and you’ll encounter fountains, which grant wishes (or not), training dummies, which increase your ATK (or not), campfires, which let you recover a bit, blacksmiths, which upgrade your runes, and chests, which give you a choice of extra runes to add to the board.
For example, you might get to pick between Elixir of Frenzy, which lets you gain ATK equal to 5% of your max HP, or Captain Dwarf, which lets you hurl a shield at an enemy for a ranged attack.
There are tons of different runes to collect, all with their own unique effects. Many of them apply buffs, or allow you to debuff enemies, adding an extra tactical layer. Each move represents a significant choice.
Do you shore up your defences or go on the attack? Do you run at that buffed up enemy now or absorb a ranged attack or two while you make your way towards a rune with a debuff?
And while you’re dealing with this constant fight or flight dilemma you also need to consider your gold reserves, because when you do eventually die you’ll need to spend your loot at your village.
This is where you invest your hard-earned gold in improving your prospects next time around. The village comprises a Cabin, where you buy and upgrade the ability to add runes and shuffle different runes into your deck before embarking on a game, a Campfire, and a Blacksmith.
These last two are tiles that turn up from time to time during gameplay. The campfire restores a bit of your health, and the blacksmith upgrades a rune of your choice. Investing in these buildings in your village makes them more effective in-game.
You can also spend gold on shuffling your runes, and on remaining in the game after a skeleton kills you.
True to its name Dungeon Deep is both set in a dungeon and really quite deep, with a diverse and finely balanced array of runes to factor into your strategy. But it plays like a match-three puzzler, with the same slick accessibility and one-more-go gameplay.
It feels a tiny bit underbaked, however. The presentation is fairly unremarkable, and in places the text is almost too small to read – particularly when it’s practically the same color as the background.
But these are small quibbles – Dungeon Deep is well-worth checking out for free via Google Play (it’s also on the App Store).