Most people that have seen the new Star Wars movie enjoyed it, but one complaint I’ve seen a lot is that it borrows heavily from the first film, A New Hope. I’ve read that it was intentional, and part of the reason was probably to remind people of how much they loved the original trilogy and help them forget the prequels. And as weird as it may seem, it sort of reminds me of what Red Winter has done with the latest Dungelot sequel, Dungelot: Shattered Lands [$3.99].

dung1Like the first Star Wars trilogy, Dungelot was widely praised. It was fresh and fun, and it sucked up many hours of my free time when it launched a few years back. Then came Dungelot 2 [Free], and like the second Star Wars trilogy (the prequels), it was kind of a mess. The game had a confusing new free-to-play model, a new art style that nearly everyone hated, and it was rife with bugs. It got so bad, in fact, that the developers ended up pulling the game to rework it and had a second launch a few months later. And now we come to the third game, Shattered Lands. And like the first film of the third Star Wars trilogy, it’s taken a huge step in the right direction by trying to remind people of what they loved about the original. It’s a premium game with no IAPs, a lot less confusing to play, and even has the same charming visual style the first game had.

If you never played the first game (or the sequel), the basic idea behind the series is a what if: what if Minesweeper was actually a dungeon crawler? It’s a pretty good way to describe the game, but if you’re a Minesweeper fan the comparison is actually a bit superficial. Each level (or floor) presents you with a board of tiles that must be uncovered in order for you to move on. There’s almost no way to figure out what’s hidden under each one, so at first you just tap in whatever direction you want. Sometimes you’ll uncover enemies, but they don’t immediately end the game like a mine would. Instead you need to either ignore or defeat them, depending on whether or not they are standing in the way of more tiles. Ultimately, your goal is to uncover a golden key which is your ticket deeper into the dungeons.

dung2Along the way you’ll also uncover helpful items and skills like bombs, throwing knives, and spells. That’s really just scratching the surface, though, as there are tons of different systems and mechanics in the game that let you play in a variety of different ways. For instance, if you want to power through the game as far as you can, you can try to unlock the weapon that deals the most damage and hop from floor to floor as soon as you find each key. If you want to take things a bit slower and focus on gaining money, however, you can choose a weapon like the pickaxe (which grants you bonus coins) and focus on killing all the enemies on each floor (which will grant you a bonus chest full of even more coins) before moving on.

There are a few new things added to the series this time around, like new characters and weapons, brand new mini games that randomly show up between floors, and a mansion where you can buy permanent boosts (like a giant plant that has a 15% chance of eating monsters on each floor). It still feels a heck of a lot like the original Dungelot, though, and that’s definitely not a complaint. We here at Touch Arcade Towers usually try to avoid over-used words like “addictive” when describing games, but it’s actually a great way to describe the series. The basic gameplay loop of exploring and fighting monsters, dying, using your coins to buy better stuff, and then getting even further next time is tuned to near-perfection and just ridiculous amounts of fun.

I can imagine some people complaining that the game is too similar to the first Dungelot, but I see that as a good thing. Like The Force Awakens, it tries to bring back everything you loved about the original, while still adding a few things here and there to spice up the formula a bit. In some ways Shattered Lands feels less like a sequel and more like a fulfillment of the promise behind the first game, like this is what Red Winter wanted to make all along. (Maybe that’s why they dropped the “3”?) If you liked the first two games or even if you hated the second (which, admittedly, was greatly improved on its re-release), then you owe it to yourself to try this third installment. Welcome back, Dungelot.

TouchArcade Rating

  • spsummer

    Nice review. I bought the game at launch and have really enjoyed it.

  • daftman

    Man, I loved the first Dungelot but skipped the second one. I'll definitely be downloading this one. Good review!

  • Timmy2x

    Bad timing lol *ahem Crashlands

    • HebCast

      your profile pic is gold xD

  • speedyph

    Great review 🕵🕵🕵

  • alduinslayer

    I love the headline.

  • TommyTutone

    It currently has a couple of big bugs such as unable to select the witch and game crashes when you try to starve yourself to death for a quest. Still fun game but needs patch asap.

  • bcredonk

    Love it! A little buggy but still a very good game and I would say definitely more fun than the second one

  • SKR Imaging

    Props to developers making premium games with no IAP shenanigans.. Fremium and Free to play are really littering the app ecosystem for some time.. I remember when almost all games in 2012 were premium.. Real Racing 1 and 2, Dungeon Hunters (yeah I bought many Gameloft games back then).. now it's all about recharging your energy bar before playing some more... just charge a reasonable price for your game and people will buy knowing they are getting a complete package they can enjoy from start to finish.

    • DuckingGold

      Oooh a freemium/f2p rant, they never get old! /s

      • nini

        Nobody ever complains about lack of cheats anymore. I mean real cheats, none of this "pay to win" nonsense, that's by design! Maybe I wants skip a level, switch God Mode on but can I? Closest we've got is FF7 and people flipped several tables about that, where's the decency? Just make fun games with a secret ability to be funner (yes, that's a word) and we'll be better off!

      • Qaioud



      • Stormourner of the Nature

        yup it's never end =/

  • birdkingz

    I feel disappointed. First of all, the game feels buggy.
    Next, the game feels very "grindy" like a freemium game.

    • nini

      Grindy elements in a dungeoncrawler? Isn't that expected?

      • mark

        Brogue, Desktop Dungeons (Dungelot's inspiration), Pixel Dungeon. None of these feel grindy and are some of the most popular. So no, not really.

  • Amenbrother

    Really enjoy this one! Quick game sessions and you are set!

  • mark

    Nathan, have you read the forum thread particularly in the last couple of days? I'm among the many that have raised issues with the game there. This game should not have received 4.5 starts as there's many critical bugs and significant balance issues. Once again, we have only a superficial review from the Touch Arcade team, that doesn't go beyond playing the game for 10 minutes or examining whether it's actually a good game beyond "clicking these things feels fun and addictive".

    • Nathan Reinauer

      I have been keeping an eye on the thread, and I definitely considered mentioning the people experiencing bugs. Perhaps I should have, but at the end of the day the review only represents my own experiences with the game. I played for many hours (well into Act II) and had only one crash, so I didn't think it was terribly important to mention. Sorry if anyone feels let down by the omission, and hopefully the bugs are fixed soon for those who are experiencing them! All that being said, I still stand by the review. It's a damn great game.

      • mark

        I was alluding to the balance issues more than anything else. Progressive unlocks in anything that calls itself a roguelike is dangerous territory, but in this game is does the very thing that shouldn't be done, namely progress that amounts to facing unreasonably hard dungeons that suddenly become easy through the simple act of grinding. The implication here is obvious in that that no proper refinement of balance has been performed, and the dev has taken the easy way out by making the player feel as if he's "progressing" when really all you're are doing in going from near impossible -> easy after a long grind for gold. This obviously takes the weight of fine tuning and balancing mechanics, something that is hard for any developer to do, to simply making it Grinding: The Game. You don't these are fundamental issues that ultimately make for an artificial and shallow gaming experience with little reason to come back? On that last point, the hallmark of these sort of games are supposed to be the replayability. This game has none.

      • Jubelio

        Maybe you should actually look at the game's description on the app store. No where does it advertise itself as a hard core rogue like or claim huge replayability. It highlights exploration and upgrading the heroes in the game and even states dozens of hours, which is a very low estimate for the length of a typical game in the genre.

      • zen_mode

        In no way did I say or imply it's a "hardcore" roguelike. I mean, it really says something when asking for a game to better balanced would turn it into a "hardcore" game. Runestone Keeper is pretty much the same game but balanced, and it's considered a light, coffee-break casual roguelike as per the Steam description. Also Shattered Lands literally calls itself a roguelike in the description. Roguelikes are designed to be played more than once. But even disregarding that, yes people do expect a bit of strategy and tactics to this game, suggesting otherwise is disingenuous. Do you actually own the game? Are you going to address any other my actual points? Or do you just like to angrily cherry pick and voice irrelevant lines from the app page?

      • Jubelio

        I think your only other points were 1. Bugs which the reviewer didn't experience 2. You don't like touch arcade reviews(but like trolling the site I guess. and 3. He only played 10 minutes which is just a stupid thing to say. So no comment on that trash heap of "analysis"

      • JMarceLF

        Stop being a turd

    • nini

      "Clicking these things feels fun" is the cornerstone of gaming at the most base level though.

      • mark

        I personally think that good, engaging gameplay with interesting mechanics and emergent possibilities is the "cornerstone of gaming at the most base level", but that's just me.

      • Ryan187

        I'd love to hear some game recommendations from you, if you don't mind.

      • mark

        Desktop Dungeons, Card Crawl, FTL, Brogue, Pixel Dungeon, Runestone Keeper, 868-Hack, Hoplite, Five Card Quest, Dream Quest, Rust Bucket, Cardinal quest 2, Ascension, Sproggiwood, Pixel Heroes

        ^ Just copy pasted from a list I wrote the other day. Some of these are iPad only, but Brogue for instance can be compiled to iPhone if you have Xcode 7. It's actually the most played game on my iPhone 6.

      • Modjular

        Does rust bucket get that deep? I downloaded it but it seemed more like an interesting map-generator than a deep puzzler. I don't think it was on the level of FTL.

      • zen_mode

        Definitely not the same level as FTL, no. There is interesting scenarios that emerge once you complete enough rooms, but ultimately the 1 hit point system keeps it on the casual side of things. To be honest, it's probably the weakest entry on the list but the game is well suited to mobile.

      • Sterling Archer

        Reading your few posts here I get the sense that you're someone who went to college/university, ended up managing a restaurant and deciding that you would find purchase by writing unnecessarily biting posts on mobile gaming blogs.

        There's a way to be productively critical and not sound like a complete jerk, you decided you didn't want to put in the effort and just made snarky responses (i.e. "Another superficial review" and "emergent possibilities") to elicit... I don't know what. But you come across as an "I'm better than you" troll, simply put.

  • gmattergames

    If you played into Act 2, then you made your way through the excruciating grind that is the second half of Act 1. I like the game, sort of, but only because it revisits the original formula, kinda. I understand their intent, the games entire shtick is that "it's fun to die", literally, it says that during a load screen. Problem is, it's not fun to die when there is no benefit to dying. In the original, dying gave you pause to throw your winnings at character skill development, skills that really made a difference. In this, you buy furniture, yep, basement furniture. Problem is, the low earning rate and high death rate, ultimately results in a monotonous grind, just to rack up enough coin to buy that new throw rug, you hope will take your game to the next level. The forum echos much of this frustration.

    • MasonHurst

      Maybe you're not doing it right. Using the pick axe I rather quickly bought everything in the mansion which is not furniture (as you know) but power ups that greatly speed up coin acquisition,etc... Also I've seen the complaint of grindy used on virtually every game in this gendre and beyond and that's in the eye of the beholder. If you like the gameplay and enjoy trying to outsmart the game (with a little luck...which I like) then it's not a grind. If that doesn't float your boat...then it will feel like a grind.

      • gmattergames

        Fair enough.

  • toefu

    I'm hoping for some help. I hit Act 3 and can't progress. It's just the Egyptian themed character telling me "you are unworthy!" Am I missing something here?

  • Tone1978

    I didn't think it was "grindy" , and I'm in act 3 and have only one crash (the witch) they will have it fixed this week. This is one of my top fav games. And I bought crash lands also. But I play dungelot shattered lands way more than crash lands , which I feel is kinda lame. Everyone is different. Like what you like, play what you like.

  • Vertis

    Skip this and pick up Runestone Keeper instead. Superior game in almost all aspects. I own both.

  • HelperMonkey

    Wait. They made a new Star Wars?!

  • Mistrija

    Nothing but nice words and yet no five stars? Can't figure out what did you find particularly as a downside to cut that last star in a half 🙂

  • Taylorian

    Even after 2 updates, there's still some super frustrating bugs. For example, I can't loot a boss chest in act II, the game just crashes over and over. There also still a bug that will randomly make the map tiles unresponsive. You have a to close the app and restart it.

    How does one get 100% in the acts? I've Cleared Act 1 with all classes and it's stuck at 75%.

    • Taylorian

      Also, endless mode was super easy at release. I quickly amassed 20K by mindlessly clearing floors with the Paladin. Now the game is fairly easy with my mansion fully buffed.

Dungelot: Shattered Lands Reviewed by Nathan Reinauer on . Rating: 4.5