Guild of Dungeoneering offers a refreshing take on the dungeon exploring genre.
Instead of just going through clearing dungeon after dungeon like Diablo, Torchlight or several dozen similar games, you build your own dungeon, making it as easy or as hard as you want. Of course, with great challenges comes great spoils.
Gambrinous’ title has you playing Guild Master, trying to make your guild the best in the world. Of course, you have to start off at square one: a guild with only a single adventurer and one room. As you clear dungeons and get loot, though, you’ll start building new rooms, granting new classes, new equipment and talismans that can enhance your adventurers.
Rooms cost 50, 500 or 2,000 gold, with high prices granting better equipment and cards to use. While classes seem like a smart thing to unlock, often you’ll want to start with getting more equipment, as those cards become key in dungeon runs.
The runs are where the game truly shines. Dungeons start normally with an intro area and a few enemies lurking around. However, it’s up to you to build the path to the enemies using cards you draw each turn. Cards can also feature treasure, which you can place down to entice your adventurer to go to a room, or monsters, which can give you experience and a chance to earn equipment.
One thing to note is that you don’t control your adventurer. Instead, it wanders toward treasure and weaker monsters, and away from stronger monsters. So, you can make a path that meanders, put treasure here and there and it will go that way. Or, you can build a direct path complete with monsters to make it a hard run to the boss, but making your character stronger along the way.
As mentioned earlier, equipment becomes key in surviving fights, as most fights will come down to the last attack in who wins or loses. Like the dungeons, the combat plays out with cards. As you go through and beat weak enemies, you’ll get stronger equipment, giving you better cards to use. If you get multiple cards, such as Fire 1, you’ll get Fire 2, giving you stronger spells, There are four tiers you can get with multiple cards, making it wiser to specialize in one or two areas instead of trying to get a little bit of everything. Personally, I focused on physical attacks with extra abilities and gear that gave health, as the extra health normally saved me from certain death.
As you progress, dungeons will progressively get harder. However, don’t expect to be able to grind to get experience and gold. After you clear a dungeon, you won’t be able to go back in. So, getting as much gold as you can is key to making each run a success, especially later on, as a mediocre run on a tough dungeon can doom your progress. There is talk about possibly adding some random dungeons you can repeat to get extra gold if you get stuck, but nothing has been implemented yet.
Another thing to note is that Guild of Dungeoneering doesn’t hold your hand. You won’t find out about tiers or traits until you discover it yourself, and equipment is vague when you equip it in dungeons, although if you use some pieces enough you’ll learn what each piece does.
It’s worth noting that the aesthetics in the game are great as well. All the graphics look as if they’re hand drawn on paper, meaning dungeons are actually sketched out as cards come into play. The monsters look cartoonish, but fits the theme of the hand-drawn art.
The music is also top-notch. It’s all lighthearted and fun to hear, making it seem like you’re not exploring a dank dungeon, but instead laughing with friends as you progress room by room to the end.
Overall, while some parts of the game may be a bit confusing until you learn the mechanics, and messing up on getting gold in a dungeon may really hinder your progress later on, Guild of Dungeoneering is still a great game to check out. I put dozens of hours into it taking on all the dungeons and trying to build the best hall that I could, and don’t regret my time spent one minute. If you’re a fan of Dungeons & Dragons, or want a new twist on the dungeon crawler genre, give this game a look.