The whole roguelike thing can seem kind of intense—the permadeath, particularly. It's all struggle and strife and the near-inevitable fall. It's hard to relax when you know each and every move could be your last, after all. Dungelot [$0.99 / Free] makes the whole formula much simpler.

It's the mythical casual roguelike, in fact. Yes, you will die. You will die often. On the way to those deaths, though, things will be relatively relaxed. Combat is simple. Inventory management is simple. Exploration is a matter of flipping tiles and seeing what's underneath. It's almost perfect for the world of casual mobile games.

"Almost" sounds ominous, but there's only one thing seriously holding Dungelot back right now: there is no save system. Now saving isn't always a roguelike thing, but it's kind of a problem when you switch to another app and your game is gone. Or when there's a crash and your game is gone. Or when… well, you get the picture.

Apparently that little problem is due to be fixed. Retina resolutions should also be coming back—yes, "back." Is there any other subgenre as plagued with post-update bugs as this?

Otherwise, check it out: we have ourselves a pick-up-and-play roguelike. Each dungeon level has 30 tiles. One's an exit, and 29 are a mystery. Under a tile you might find an enemy, a treasure chest, a trap or something special. Usually you'll find nothing at all, and after a certain point you'll learn to prefer that fate.

Combat is a numbers game. You have an attack number and a pool of health, and your enemies have much smaller attack numbers and pools of health. You tap on them until one of you runs out. Straightforward, no? Each enemy type has some special feature—a chance at a double-attack, perhaps, or health regeneration—and you have a handful of your own depending on your class.

Classes are the long-term hook. There are four at the moment, the paladin, the vampire, the brewer and the assassin. Each has three unique passive skills. You start with the paladin and unlock the rest as you reach new depths of the dungeon, and you can level up their skills with the coins you find—find, not buy.

In the shorter term, your progression is pretty much entirely based on luck. As you dig your way down, you'll find swords and hearts strewn around to add to your attack and health. You'll find gear to help you on your way. And you'll find spells, so many spells. You can cast 'em, or you can cannibalize them for their delicious hearts.

These are the kinds of choices that define your time in Dungelot. They aren't as fraught as the choices you make in most roguelikes—you'll always know about how much longer you'll live, for instance. The biggest decision is whether to keep going: you can flee a level as soon as you find its key, but should you? There could be treasure. There could be a tasty bonus when you clear out the mobs. Or you could whittle away your health for no good reason.

There's plenty to keep the game going, even while every trip down ends the same way: with a long, slow process of health draining away to your death. There are new monsters to find at new depths. There are special doors that open for special reasons. There are extra rooms to hunt through. You can find your old corpses for fun and profit. It's the process of exploring, improving, unlocking and upgrading that will keep you coming back.

That's the beauty of Dungelot. It's not the most complex roguelike, or the cleverest. It is, however, just right for a casual dungeon delve on a mobile device. There's just enough meat to keep it compelling, and not so much complexity that you'll ever have trouble recalling your strategy when you come back from a break. It's, well, casual. A casual roguelike—how about that?

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Jordan

    So let me get this straight... there's now iPhone 5 screen support but no retina graphics, and if you get a phone call all your progress is lost? According to the forums the game has severe crashing issues and Touch Arcade gives it a 4 out of 5? Wow... if only every game could be rated based on their "potential" instead of their "current" state of affairs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.marroquin.106 Aaron Marroquin

      bro. BROOOOOO. Have you ever played a little game called, "THE WALKING DEAD?" This game got game of the year. GOTY bro!!! And that game is like a 2 out of 10 when it comes to its technical faults. Take a chill yo! Take a chill!

      • Jordan

        But that's the problem with sites that rate games... they need to rate them on the current state of affairs and not the promised potential of the developers. When (and if) they get updated, the rating can be modified accordingly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.marroquin.106 Aaron Marroquin

        But the game is fun now yo! Go to the developer's site and check it out. It's a fun lil game.

      • http://twitter.com/mguniverse Danny Perski

        In a world where digital distribution is taking over and games are constantly updated, this bothers me.

      • Jordan

        Maybe that would encourage developers to wait to release games once they are ready to be reviewed and not before... Might up the "standard of quality" we used to come to expect from games on a whole.

      • felipe

        I agree. Today (4 me) games without icloud save sync and no support for iphone 5 resolution, thx but no thx..

      • REkzkaRZ

        Felipe - yeah, skip 'em.

        But for those of us who don't care about those things... We don't really care.
        Just make your feature requests to the Devs and pay $1 or $2 to support them, rather than acting as if these minor lackings have anything to do w/a game review.

        iOS development does not require iCloud sync or iPhone 5 support for a reason: they're *really* not essential features.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501978123 Gregory Osenbach

      the crash bug that it launched with has already been fixed. if your phone rings, you wont lose your game. only if you open a pile of other apps before getting back to it. The non-retina was an oversight when the crash bug fix was submitted. the dev missed a checkbox option on the submit process and the retnia was stripped out accidentally. I think this has already been resubmitted with that fixed so we should see the retnia graphics back in a day or two. The better graphics exist, there were in the launch version. At to tell the truth, even as it is, it still looks just fine on my iphone 4S. I never really even noticed it.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      If you read the review you'll see that this game IS rated on its current state. It's an incredibly fun game. The minor flaws don't change that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.marroquin.106 Aaron Marroquin

    I've actually been playing the version on their site. Great lil game. Gonna pick up the app!

  • Billy Ocean

    Mine hasn't crashed yet. Great game.

  • http://twitter.com/BeRad_Ent Be-Rad

    I'm glad they lowered the OS requirement. Used to be 6.0, now it's 3.2

  • Codeb1ue

    So many crashes :(

  • Codeb1ue

    Though I am still big fan :)

  • Benegesserit

    They need to kill the enemy attack animation as it slows down the runs. Every other action in the game is instant.

    Greed doors are garbage after like 7-8 floor in every run. The cost skyrockets and you get the same stuff you can get at the beginning. The items themselves scale based on floor level but your hearts do not (and the coin gain curve is weak) so don't bother with them except for the first several floors.

    Also locking people out of classes based on floors instead of buying them with gold is lame. Someone who prefers the Paladin won't have to worry about it but if you want to play the Assassin (which isn't any stronger than the other classes) you're screwed until the gods favor you. At least you gold you can grind games to get the class you want.

  • Denzalo

    Little tip -- if you d/l the lite version, you can upgrade to the full for $.99

    • morphx2

      Didn't work for me. Says 1.99 still in game

  • DrewD

    Has anyone else found the endless gold and endless power up bugs?

    • REkzkaRZ

      Not me. How/where?

      Seems like a spoiler, btw.

  • afsplat

    What's with the dwarf and assassin far right skill only giving 0.3 to attack per level? The other two give one.

  • allana

    Can someone explain the numbers that come up in combat. First a white number comes up, then it changes to orange or sometimes red. What do these mean. Is this the attack I am making or the attack onme.Cant figure it all out.

    Thanks.

Dungelot Lite Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4