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Dungeons of Dredmor

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Nowadays, the term "Rogue-Like" is extremely, extremely overused. Rogue-Like used to refer to a very specific genre of old, extremely difficult turn based RPG with lots of randomization and complexity, as well as many other key features such as perma-death.

 

Nowadays, pretty much any game that's hard with random level generation and perma-death is calling itself a rogue-like, and some of them even omit one or two of those features. People have started calling games like Binding of Issac, Risk of Rain, Swindle, and Ziggurat Rogue-Lites only very recently, and the phrase is just starting to catch on.

 

What isn't catching on is actual Rogue-Likes. They're a very niche genre. Stuff like complete, actual perma-death, ASCII art, and absurdly large learning curves scare most gamers away from them. A few, however, have extended an olive branch towards gamers new to the genre. A very thorny, tentative olive branch. I only know of two Rogue-Likes that do this, and that's Doom: The Roguelike and Dungeons of Dredmor. For now, I'm just gonna tell you about Dungeons of Dredmor.

 

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Dungeons of Dredmor is a Rogue-Like (obviously) by Gaslamp Games. Your only goal is simple: Get to the bottom floor of the Dungeons of Dredmor and defeat the evil Lord Dredmor located within. How you go about doing that is less simple.

 

When you start the game you get to choose your difficulty, length of the levels, perma-death on or on (Don't turn it off for this game, even if you're new. You don't deserve breathing rights if you do.) and whether or not to add an extra five levels to lengthen your playthrough. You also get to set your character's name and gender, and pick any seven of thirty-five to fifty-one skills, depending on if you got the cheap as chips DLC.

 

My favorite part of this game is that you can pick any seven of these skills. Any. Seven. I'm accentuating this because it's awesome. You can have any combination of skills you can possibly desire. You want to be a Berserker Raging, Fleshsmithing, Warlocking Werediggle-Vegan-Pirate-Lawyer? You absolutely can. The amount of freedom you have with making your build in DoD is so liberating, with so many other games only letting you choose your class or character. You're encouraged to experiment, and experimenting can result in some rather strange and entertaining role hybridization (see: Werediggle-Vegan-Pirate-Lawyer) While not all of these builds work, finding out which ones do is part of the fun of this game. Another part is that it's actually playable for someone who hasn't played a roguelike before.

 

The UI is simple, you don't need a million key combinations for drinking a potion, everything is drawn like what it's supposed to be, there's a great tutorial, there's actual sound, and overall the game isn't as difficult or complex as most other roguelikes. There's still a lot of depth, but the learning curve isn't as steep as a wall. With spikes on it. And fire. And pterodactyls trying to eat you. Roguelikes aren't easy to get into, so this game is a great starting point for people new to the genre.

 

And the last thing that bears mention is the game's sense of humor. Some people who've played it say it's Munchkiny. Like the card game, Munchkins. I've never played Munchkins, but I can say the humor is delightfully cynical, dark, silly, and somewhat referencial to geek culture.

 

Almost all of the jokes are in the descriptions for items, enemies, skills and other things. Sometimes when you break a statue of Lord Dredmor or try to cast a spell without mana, the announcer's booming voice will say "Heroic vandalism!" Or "You need more mana. Drink more booze!" But most of the time you'll be seeing stuff like the Evil Magic Potatoes or the text that appears when you fail a run that says "Congratulations! You have died!" I've gotten a chuckle from most of these, even the achievements like It's MY dungeon! for when Dredmor kills you or Suddenly the Dungeon Collapses for when the game crashes.

 

Anybody interested in roguelikes should pick up this game. It's five bucks for the base game but only seven for the version with all the DLC. You can get it on Steam and the Humble Store. Go check it out!

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