For some individuals, roguelike games are a lifestyle. For others, it may be a case of playing one and ignoring the rest. Either way you look at it, this genre is as popular as ever on the indie development scene, with these types of games released on a regular basis across multiple platforms. While the Wii U eShop may only have a handful of these titles, Quest of Dungeons is an interesting one to add to the pile.
Developed and published by Upfall Studios, Quest of Dungeons is a game previously released on PC, mobile and rival platforms that admittedly does not bring anything out-of-the-ordinary to the genre. What it does offer is a competent dungeon crawling and questing experience that can transfix players for a few minutes or hours, depending on their own level of enthusiasm.
Quest of Dungeons drops the player into a world of chaos where an evil dark lord has banished light. After selecting between one of the four classes (warrior, wizard, assassin or shaman) it is your duty, as the player, to head into the dungeon and save the day. There's no fooling about here; one mistake and it's game over. You must restart and level your hero all over again. Time is spent moving from room to room on each floor of the dungeon, killing skeletal warriors, vampires and other enemies to gain experience. There's also loot, keys and coins to collect. Each session is different as the dungeon map is procedurally generated - this means you'll never encounter enemies or items in the same location.
Each character class feels marginally different from the other. The wizard is heavily reliant on mana for powerful and magic spells, whereas the assassin has the ability to wipe out enemy forces with ranged weapons. Each hero can find better weapons and gear over time, and also extend their skill set. At times it is hard to appreciate the variety of upgrades, as the most notable difference is often quicker depletion of enemy health bars. Hero movement and attacks in Quest of Dungeons, meanwhile, are synced with enemies. Every time the hero moves, a nearby opponent within the same room will take a step closer. When you attack, the enemy attacks. The action plays out in a similar fashion to a simultaneous turn-based strategy game, which results in stilted but more thoughtful play sessions.
Despite this, there is still a good sense of flow to Quest of Dungeons, and this is what makes it so accessible. As you explore every nook and cranny of the dungeon there are many points of interest to be on the lookout for. There are side quests to tackle, which task players to go and kill a specific enemy, and also bosses to defeat. If it's all too much there is a shop keeper in the dungeon who sells many helpful wares; players can also sell any valuable rocks or other items they find at the shop. If you're still struggling, Quest of Dungeons has four levels of difficulty. With only one life per play session this is a welcome addition. There are also personal stats and online leaderboards, encouraging replays.
In terms of the controls, the Wii U GamePad features an on-screen map and also inventory and quest management. It offers the most functional way to stay on top of your hero's location while enjoying the game on the television screen. Certain points of interest in rooms, such as the stairs and warp portals, are also featured on this map. The game can be played directly on the GamePad as well, and the Pro Controller is also supported in Quest of Dungeons if you prefer this pad. Due to the extensive size of each dungeon floor it's easy to get lost, so the GamePad is advised.
Visually, Quest of Dungeons goes with a 16-bit pixel look. Each floor of the dungeon has a single theme, and characters and enemy sprite work is charismatic enough. While the designs are a bit generic, it's at least cleanly presented. The music and sound effects on the other hand go above and beyond. The soundtrack is particularly atmospheric. It outclasses the pixel presentation, and though it doesn't necessarily match the tone of the game at all times it's a good listen.
It's become harder for roguelike games to stand out over the years due to an overpopulated market. As predictable as Quest for Dungeons may be, it is easily one of the superior ones now available on the Wii U eShop. Its quality design makes it easy to pick up and play, and can entertain players for minutes or hours at a time thanks to the unique simultaneous turn-based combat and procedurally generated dungeons. If you're in the mood for yet another roguelike adventure, Quest of Dungeons is a game you should consider.