907714_largerAt first glance, one might take a look at Jeffrey Fal's Dungeonism [$1.99] and dismiss it as yet another retro-inspired dungeon crawler. However, anyone doing so would be making a big mistake, as they'd be missing out on an impressive addition to the App Store. With a deceptive amount of depth, plenty of content and a great art style, Dungeonism is an excellent addition to the old-school dungeon crawling scene and must be checked out.

Dubbed as a 'rogue-ish' dungeon crawler, Dungeonism challenges players with completing a set number of zones, each offering minor storytelling in the form of narration (or occasionally, cutscenes) found between maps. While the number of levels don't change, each individual map is mostly randomized with each playthrough, meaning a second romp through an already cleared level will be mostly different. There are even maps with multiple levels, emulating the traditional 'endless' nature of standard rogue-likes. These end up being good maps to grind on, with more risk/reward as dying in a map wipes away anything earned in that level.

mzl.miqeefgvDungeonism is also rogue-ish in its gameplay, which offers a simplified top-down turn-based style that is typically found in most rogue-likes. There are some small changes to the general formula, such as the use of movement points (turns aren't strictly 1-to-1 against enemies), the importance of directional combat (flanking an enemy causes more damage) and the inclusion of simple puzzle rooms to advance in some levels, but for the most part the game's battle system and controls will feel quite familiar. An energy system means that heroes can't simply charge into battle, as running out of energy reduces both your attack power and defense. While Dungeonism doesn't stray far from its roots as far as core gameplay, its improvements on the formula are what really help it stand out.

One such area is in its character leveling system. Rather than heroes simply killing enemies and leveling up, experience points are littered across each level and must be collected (similar to coins). Those points are then used to upgrade one of ten different categories, such as melee damage, defense, capacity (how many items you can hold), memory (how many spells you can have at the ready) and more. Adding some complication to the system is the fact that Dungeonism also awards practice points and discounts to stat increases which are based on what is done during that level (shoot a lot of arrows and you get a discount on an archery upgrade). It's an excellent system that offers a lot more customization and player choice than I've seen in similar games.

Other features in Dungeonism aren't ground-breaking by any stretch but go a long way towards improving the overall game. A full equipment system lets players buy (and find) a variety of different pieces of armor that imbue stat increases to the hero. Similarly, the game also features a robust magic system that offers a lot of spells that can either be bought or found in-game. I liked the fact that there are plenty of useful spells available, which makes the finite amount of spell spaces even more important when figuring out what you should keep (unless you spend a lot of experience on memory, of course).

Players are going to need the above systems too, as Dungeonism offers a ton of content. There are a decent amount of zones to discover, each with their own maps. Players can also discover maps in-game, which can be used to unlock new maps or even new zones. While beginning zones are filled with pretty easy enemies (probably my biggest complaint). Later zones up the ante with baddies that offer more than just increased stats, occasional boss battles which require a bit more strategy, and different environments that affect movement, energy, and more. There's plenty of opportunity to grind, improve your characters, and develop your own playstyle to pass those harder zones.

A lot of the appeal of a rogue-like is the ability to simply engage in an endless run until you win or die. I'd argue that Dungeonism's move to take that gameplay and divide it up into zones and maps, combined with its excellent character system, adds a certain amount of purpose that I find missing from more traditional rogue-ish dungeon crawlers. Sure, Dungeonism has a few small issues like the above-mentioned difficulty curve and a tutorial system that could be organized better, but overall it's an excellent title and well worth checking out.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://www.kizi10.info/ Kizi 10

    Thanks for giving me the useful information.

  • oldgamer dude

    Nice review, the game is fantastic. I hope Jeff makes it universal so more people can experience this gem. Cool touches like being able to knock baddies into torches and set them on fire abound.

  • bhornburg

    Yay! Loving the Dungeonism! Great work dev(s)

  • fredfnord

    "There are some small changes to the general formula, such as the use of movement points (turns aren't strictly 1-to-1 against enemies), the importance of directional combat (flanking an enemy causes more damage) and the inclusion of simple puzzle rooms to advance in some levels..."

    ...so, should I tell him that two of those three things (a speed system and a bunch of puzzle levels) are in nethack, which is perhaps the canonical rogue-like against which all others are measured, and has been for 20 years?

    • 61050

      nah, i wouldnt. i would hate for you to sound like a sarcastic know-it-all.

      • fredfnord

        But why would I want to mislead him that way? :D

    • Adams Immersive

      I don't think by "general formula" he meant original or old, merely common among this kind of iOS game.

    • oldgamer dude

      Well there is no permadeath in this game for one thing. If you die you can start the level over with all your gold, spells, and equipment. Also you can revisit earlier levels to grind if you want to have an easier time with later levels. So big differences from most rouguelike type games.

  • http://www.yepi2.co/ yepi

    wow! game use intelligent. i like it

  • TrencH

    Nice review for a great game. I still play it often and when I do it's hard to break from the one more dungeon habit. I hope they keep supporting it with stuff.

  • http://www.yepi10.net/ yepi 10

    thank so much! I think I need this things!

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    As a fan of dungeon crawls, I got it. Impressive -- a synthesis of old school videogame looks plus interesting challenging dungeons (not sure if they are random or premade).

    What's the significance of the stats in the game? Lvl 10 vs Lvl 11 in melee or stealth or wizardry - is this a significant improvement? I'd like a clearer explanation of stats & their values in HELP.

Dungeonism Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4