When I first saw the name of the third title in the Indie Games Uprising 3 (Diehard Dungeon from tricktale), I must say that I was very skeptical. I thought that the game would be yet another dungeon crawler with standard elements and an over-simplified system without much depth to it. Oh was I wrong…
Diehard Dungeon is a dungeon crawler game with heavy roguelike elements. You start the game by taking the control of a poor little man who has the unfortunate fate of being dropped in a dungeon filled with monsters. You first start the game by acquiring a sword and then learn the basics of the game through different playthroughs as you die. And die again. A lot… The gameplay resembles The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in some ways, including the way the characters move around and attack (which feels perfect as controls go) as well as the simple “hearts” health system. You never feel like the controls have given up on you, which makes every death a mistake of yours and which takes away any useless frustration. Along the way, you acquire more weapons, items, and power-ups that help you on your quest and sometimes drastically change the gameplay (especially in the case of the Companion Chest that evolves throughout the game). It is also possible to acquire numerous power-ups through mini-games which feel like Pac Man and are rather fun to play, to be honest.
The twist here is that the dungeons you explore every time you play are different, requiring you to adapt on-the-fly to survive. I usually have no problem going through this type of game but for some reason my brain just didn’t want to cooperate on my quest to finish the game. However, launching a new game was never a painful task to do since the game is that much fun to play. You will die, learn from your mistakes, and try to get further every time you play. In addition to the main game, a Mayhem mode was also added. This mode is basically a Geometry Wars type of game (twin-stick shooter) in which you are a chest and must eliminate enemies by shooting spikes at them. Since you cannot die in this game mode, the key to getting a huge score is to chain combos together, thing that I consider being rather difficult to maintain throughout a complete match. While this mode is nothing to get too excited about, it is still a nice addition to the main game.
Diehard Dungeon’s graphics are beautiful. The old 16-bit graphics art style is omnipresent and will automatically bring you back to your childhood. As well as looking rather nice, some interesting transitions are used such as when starting a new game. You can tell when playing the game that a lot of attention has been put into this aspect. This can easily be seen in the multiple particles effects used for nearly everything that happens such as crates exploding, poison pods, flames spreading across the levels, and many other details. Efforts on the audio side of the game can be seen in the great attention to sound detailss as well as the soundtrack. Both of these elements will throw you back to the A Link to the Past era, down to a very similar sound when your character is hit by an enemy.
The only downsides I could find to this game revolve around its roguelike quality: some gamers won’t be able to get into it because of the high level of difficulty as well as the fact that there are no checkpoints. Die at the end of the game and you have to start over from the beginning. Sure, it is part of the experience and the learning process that roguelike games have but you still might want to give the game a try anyway.
Diehard Dungeon is one great surprise in the Indie Games Uprising 3 lineup. If you are a fan of really hard games and dungeon crawlers, do yourself a favor and give this game a try. At an extremely low price of 80 Microsoft Points, what’s to lose? Just go ahead and dive into these deadly dungeons.
Diehard Dungeon is available on the Xbox LIVE Indies Games channel for the Xbox 360 for 80 Microsoft Points ($1 USD). Review code was provided by the developer for reviewing purposes.