Hot off our recent report on the changing landscape for games that are heavily inspired by other titles comes a release that, at least superficially, takes a lot from one of the most well-received iOS titles of 2011. Yes, Dungeon Story [Free] looks very similar to Dungeon Raid [$1.99 / Free], and the underlying match-3 gameplay feels very familiar (if not as aptly executed). However, some significant differences in character progression, battles, and long-term playability make enough of a difference for Dungeon Story to stand on its own.

It's easy to describe Dungeon Story if you've played games like Dungeon Raid. If you're one of the few that haven't played such a title, Dungeon Story is a match-3 puzzler with RPG elements built into the matching. Littered across the field are swords, hearts, coins and elements. Match swords to deal physical damage, elements for magical damage, hearts to recover health, and coins to go into your bank. Meanwhile, you're constantly being pitted against various enemies that attack you in turn-based fashion. Each dispatched monster leads to a stronger one, and you go on until you inevitably succumb.

As you can tell from the above, Dungeon Story plays very similarly to Dungeon Raid. However, there are a lot of subtle differences. The 'magic' system is simplified and restricted to a simple defend/heal/damage mechanism. Defense is now a static attribute (with shields as a collectible nonexistent). Enemies aren't icons on the field, but rather exist as a perpetual antagonist. In addition, the inclusion of fire and ice elements and the concept of combo spells add a little bit of strategy to dealing damage.

The biggest change with Dungeon Story, however, is its persistency of levels and attributes with your characters. Rather than every match being a (mostly) self-contained adventure, experience and levels carry over in Dungeon Story. In addition, all the money you earn can be used to purchase permanent upgrades across variety of different ways (which typically go towards base stat increases).

I think this change shifts the dynamic in Dungeon Story significantly. A lot of the tension felt in fast-paced self-contained matches in titles like Dungeon Raid is replaced by a long-term 'grind-oriented' feel. On one hand, each match isn't as significant as other games might portray them to be. However, every match is still a significant part of the whole as the experience, money and levels earned in each match is carried on. It's an interesting change, and one that I think goes a long way towards differentiating Dungeon Story from other similar games.

This change also goes a long way towards the inclusion of multiplayer, which is can be played via bluetooth or Game Center and is directly affected by your current levels and stat line. For that matter, while the inclusion of multiplayer is a nice addition, I didn't find it particularly significant.

Unfortunately, there are a few aspects of Dungeon Story that I wish were emulated better from other games. The actual match-3 mechanic of tracing a line to match icons leaves a lot to be desired. Long-traces occasionally don't register if you don't end your match exactly on top of an icon. In addition, the game doesn't have any animations to show what you match and what new icons fall onto the field of play. In addition, you can't see how much your damage would be before finishing an attack (the same goes for recovering health). These may sound like minor offenses, but when the entirety of the game is focused on matching, every imperfection no matter how small gets magnified.

Dungeon Story is one of those strange games where a quick glance at how it looks would lead one to conclude that it's a straight clone on Dungeon Raid. Fortunately, that's far from the case, as I think Story adds a lot of features and changes that streamline the gameplay while expanding it for replaybility. While the implementation isn't perfect, and the visuals (partially due to the near copying) are lackluster, there's enough here to check out.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • AceSox

    I'd like to point out to anyone thinking anout buying that all the complaints in the second to last paragraph have already been addressed in v1.1 which is currently in review by apple. If your on the fence just get it you won't regret it. This game is excellent and should not be missed. Check out the games thread for more info about upcoming updates!

    Cheers!

    ~extremely enthusiastic player

    • SkyMuffin

      I came here to say this, too! The developer has been extremely open to feedback and they have a ton of changes and new features planned in future updates. The next version is already in review and it should make the game feel less grindy and more action oriented.

    • Anders Peterson

      There was a time when TA reviewers actually read the forums.

  • turakm

    I'd also like to add that the developer is constantly improving the game and extremely active in the forums and open to suggestions. The game is awesome!

  • mudd

    I do agree with the line drawing complaint--it can be frustrating--but still I've been playing this quite a lot and would highly recommend this to any fan of Dungeon Raid.

  • hellscaretaker

    I like to add my support to this title and if the reviewer had a look at the fourm

  • hellscaretaker

    I'm also jumping in behind the support of this title, it's clear the reviewer has not looked at the forum of this very title. The developer and yes it's only one person by the way not a team. Has been reading our comments and already addressed the issues us players have highlight such as the line issue and also have the icons drop in like dungeon raid the update for this game was submitted last week and await apple to go yes.

    For 99 cent or 69p you can't moan it's a title that you should get behind and give this guy all the support you can as from reading the forum he has loads of other ideas he wants to throw in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.farraro Eric Farraro

    Great game and kudos to the developer on being so active in the forums :)

    Looking forward to the 1.2 update, which will hopefully address my main gripe with the game (lack of strategic depth).  On one hand, the sense of progression is nice; on the other, I agree with the reviewer that it leads to a bit of a 'grind'.  I feel like every move counts in Dungeon Raid; in Dungeon Story, not so much.

    • Pantazis Deligiannis

      No worries! Update 1.2 is going to do EXACTLY that :) Over the next few days I will be rolling more info as I am developing it!

  • http://twitter.com/chaosz911 René de Groot

    I absolutely love Dungeon Raid (my most played game since it got out (still playing)). so downloading Dungeon Story asap :D

  • Dazriel

    "Which is can be played"? :p
    Definitely getting this btw.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/rekzkarz#a0df5 REkzkaRZ

    Can anyone offer any definitive post-play review (besides TA reviewer)?

    How does it stack up vs Dungeon Raid?  How is replayability?  Among many positive reviews, there was a review on Appstore saying the App wasn't very polished or replayable.  Many folks said support Dungeon Raid (one said 10,000,000) instead of this game.
    I would like to support independent dev's, but I'm not psyched on the general disappointment I heard.

    Would like to hear something more clear from a gameplayer?  Anyone out there *LOVE* this game?

    • http://twitter.com/chaosz911 René de Groot

      It's a nice game, but not a replacement for Dungeon Raid imho. I do play both now. Dungeon Story's controls are not as smooth as Dungeon Raid and it gets a bit boring after playing it a while, while I still play Dungeon Raid a lot eversince it came out on the appstore. Dungeon Story doesn't give you the feeling that you can use different strategies and make a difference. You play and at some point you know the enemy will hit too hard and you loose. To sum it up; Dungeon Story is imho a nice game to have and worth to buy, but you shouldn't compare it to Dungeon Raid, just play it and have fun.

    • Pantazis Deligiannis

      Hi guys, just be patient for the 1.1 and 1.2 updates. Especially 1.2 will add TONS of new strategic options (and other stuff to do) in the game. See the forums thread (and my website) for more info, or ask any of the beta testers! Thanks for the feedback so far!

  • Pantazis Deligiannis

    By the way, the update 1.1 is already out!

  • Henrik Nåmark

    Tried the game after this review. What a disappointment. Especially one character that makes the whole screen black. To die by the hand of that enemy a long way into a dungeon felt like punishment. Uninstalled it straight after that.

  • safas

    I bought this game when it released. The updates have brought a lot of extra content. The game now features a tavern with quests, a shop that provides you with upgrades while in the dungeon (think item upgrades in dungeon raid) and an extra dungeon.

    It also now give you a number if how much damage you do and there is a falling animation. Highly recommend buying this if you like dungeon raid and highly recommend replaying it if you bought it on release.

Dungeon Story Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5