Dungeon Souls Preview

Dungeon Souls is a top-down, roguelike hack ‘n’ slash game that has been in Early Access on Steam since the beginning of July.

I’ve had a lot of fun playing it so far, quick bursts of play which can last up to an hour. The fun of Dungeon Souls lies with the roguelike element. For those that don’t know, a ‘roguelike’ is a game that is usually very difficult with little margin for error. There is often the feature of ‘permadeath’ for characters in these types of games, meaning when you die that life you had is gone. Any powers and upgrades you had are lost, and you start all over again from the beginning.

Now that sounds mind bogglingly infuriating but it’s really not. It’s fun, in a kind of masochistic way.

Developer: Lamina Studios
Publisher: Black Shell Media
Early Access Released: 2nd July 2015

You have the choice of three heroes from the start, classic fantasy choices of barbarian, thief, or archer. After a few playthroughs, all eight heroes will be unlocked with certain parameters fulfilled. The fill list is quite impressive, with each hero having their own specific abilities and stats. The barbarian has the most health, he’s not too fast but he can dish out damage faster. The thief is very fast but has the lowest health, but the damage he can do at higher levels is incredible. The archer has a much larger range than most, even the spellcasters(wizard and necromancer) don’t have the reach he does.

What this results in is a very unique experience for each person, and for each individual playthrough. The maps are randomly generated, and are categorised into a number of different stages. You begin in the dungeon and slowly make your way upwards, fending off wave after wave of monsters. The game is controlled through your movements keys and your mouse, with special abilities assigned to the number keys.

The art style and sound design are quite appealing. The design for the game is pixellated which seems cartoonish at first but grows on you the more you play. And the sound, while some parts do get repetitive, is nice and fresh. Swords and axes swipe through the air, arrows have that iconic thwang of the bowstring, and the magical spells of the wizard and necromancer feel very powerful. Throwing fireballs and summoning undead minions really never gets old.

The heroes you play as are heroes from the ‘Overworld’ the world above the dungeons of eternal torment that they find themselves in now. Their purpose is the climb up, towards the tower and reclaim the ‘Soul Orb’ this will allow them to be resurrected for real. Choosing your character is looking at their gravestones and lifeless bodies, as their ghost hovers above showing you what the character looks like. When chosen they are revived to make another attempt at the dungeon to reclaim their life.DS 1

As I mentioned before, each character is unique which gives the game some replayability. This coupled with the procedural generation of the dungeons make it almost a fully fresh experience each time. Procedural generation, just in case, is when the world is generated by algorithms each time the game is started. This is opposed to a set level designed by the game’s creators.

The game is in early access so it isn’t without a few bugs. Characters might catch on walls where they shouldn’t and there is still balancing being done for the strength of abilities and enemies. But Lamina Studios have been doing an excellent job, pushing out regular updates and patches. The main thing to mention, and the main gripe many would have, is the difficulty level. If you’re unfamiliar with roguelikes, this isn’t the worst game to start with. It is forgiving in the countless upgrades that can be found throughout the levels and the health potions. But don’t be mistaken this game, like all roguelikes, does not baby the player. There is no tutorial or help, you are dropped into a dungeon and you just have to survive.

I won’t give any of my reviews scores but I am certainly giving Dungeon Souls a thumbs up in its current state. It can be completed, which can’t be said for many early access games. With the continued updates and eventual full release, players have been promised more items, characters, abilities, and enemies.

An entertaining dungeon crawling roguelike which is certain to test your skills.

Dungeon Souls is currently available in Early Access for €9.99 on Steam.

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