Upfall Studios’ Quest of Dungeons has returned for what marks its third outing on a Nintendo platform. Approximately a year after the original Wii U version’s release, the title has now arrived on the Switch eShop with new content and some minor technical tweaks. The big question is, do these changes make this the definitive version of the game?
The latest iteration is a port with a few slight adjustments and content enhancements. For the uninformed, Quest of Dungeons is a roguelike game that doesn't necessarily bring anything out-of-the-ordinary to the genre. The changes in this latest Switch version are minimal, all told, and may be barely noticeable to returning players. Technical adjustments are tied to the user interface and how it has been adapted to the system, and an additional level with new sprites and themes has been added to the game. The solid and well designed dungeon crawling is still intact and will entertain a player for minutes or hours on end, depending on their own level of eagerness.
As soon as you launch the Nintendo Switch version of Quest of Dungeons it feels like a much more sophisticated take on previous releases. This can be credited directly to the Switch and the sleek and accessible design of the system. It simply just makes a game like Quest of Dungeons better. Everything about the title on the Switch – including the look, feel and functionality – gives it the edge.
Despite this new lease of life the premise is naturally the same; you are dropped into a world of chaos where an evil dark lord has banished light. After selecting between one of four classes (warrior, wizard, assassin or shaman) it is your duty to head into a dungeon and save the day. There is nothing easy about the task at hand - one mistake and it is game over. If your hero dies you must restart the game and level a character all over again. In each dungeon, your character will spend their time fighting off hoards of bats, skeletons and evil sorcerers in order to gain experience. There’s loot to find, quests to take on, and keys and coins to collect. Each session of Quest of Dungeons is different due to the map being procedurally generated; it means no run is ever the same, with items and enemies also in different locations every time.
The character classes in this latest release are unchanged. The wizard is reliant on mana for magic spells, the assassin has the ability to use ranged weapons, the shaman can mix spells with close combat and the mighty warrior is great for his classic sword fighting skills. Just like the other versions of the game, each hero can find better weapons and gear and expand upon their skill set. The actions of heroes and enemies are also synced. This means every time your character moves, attacks or even heals with an item, the enemy can move towards you or attack. The battles as a result of this play out like a turn-based strategy game, encouraging a more thoughtful plan of attack.
The turn-based approach does not detract from the flow of Quest of Dungeons; if anything, it makes it more accessible. You learn from your mistakes each time your character dies, and eventually you develop a bit of rhythm with how you go about each play session. There are also many points of interest to watch for during every run; this includes side quests to tackle – such as eliminating a specific enemy – and also bosses to defeat. A shop keeper in the dungeon, who spawns in random locations, also sells many helpful wares. The player can also visit the shop to sell valuable rocks they collect or any other items they find. If it’s all too much, Quest for Dungeons has four different difficulty settings, meaning you can always lower the difficulty if dungeon life is getting the better of you. Every time you lose a hero you can also view personal stats and online leaderboards to see how you rank against other players worldwide.
The new features in the Switch version of the game, as already mentioned, are relatively minor in their impact. A feats system has been added, which can be located from the main menu; this tracks the achievements you have unlocked. These range from completing a quest to finishing the game on a certain difficulty with a particular character. A new level “mansion” which adds new themes and sprites - including more enemies and tilesets - has also been included. The previously featured custom mode – allowing players to select dungeon size and the amount of floors – benefits from this with more variety on show.
The 16-bit pixel look is no different to previous entries. Each floor of the dungeon has a single theme, and the character and enemy sprite work is charismatic enough, despite the generic look. The sound effects in Quest of Dungeons are adequate, but the soundtrack still doesn't fit the atmosphere of a 16-bit game; it's quality music but perhaps doesn't nail the retro theme. In handheld mode the game still looks and sounds the same as it does on the television, a plus point for portable play.
If you had to pick one platform for Quest of Dungeons, the Switch would probably be it. It highlights the qualities of the Switch concept even if the upgrades in the game are relatively subtle. The system - with the choice of TV or portable play - is therefore a perfect match with the solid turn-based combat and procedurally generated dungeons. As a returning player, besides playing the title on a fancy new device the minor improvements and new content are hard to appreciate, at least when considering the need to double-dip. This version is certainly worth a go if you haven't played it before, however, as this is still an enjoyable game to play.