In general, if you take a tried-and-true gameplay mechanic and smash it together with dungeon crawling and/or light RPG elements, you’re going to create a game that I like. It’s science, I think. That is very much the case with Dungeon and Puzzles by indie developer Nekolyst. It’s certainly dressed up like a dungeon crawler but in reality this is very much a Sokoban game. Well, that’s what it says, but I associate Sokoban with pushing boxes, and that’s not what you do here. It is however one of those slidey puzzle games where you move your character in a cardinal direction and they keep on going until they hit something. In Puzzle and Dungeons you’ll need to utilize this rule to defeat all the enemies, open up the exit door, and move on to the next room. Simple right?
Except of course it’s not that simple. The “dungeon crawler" elements are really just cleverly hidden gameplay mechanics. Your earliest levels feature a sword which you must collect, then run right into an enemy to stop your movement, then hack that enemy to death. The monsters don’t provoke you or attack you in any way, they’re simply meat blocks in a puzzle. Despite their docile nature, it’s your job to kill them for your own selfish reasons. Are you actually the baddie in this game? Perhaps.
Things get more interesting as new weapons, gear, and environmental traps are introduced as you progress. You don’t keep any weapons or equipment between rooms, so in each level you have to utilize only what’s on hand. A bow and arrow allows you to shoot enemies from afar, and since you only have a single arrow you’ll also need to go and retrieve it to use it again. But lo! That arrow you shot that’s now just lying on the ground also acts as a stopping mechanism for you, so now not only is it a weapon but it’s a tool in order for you to situate yourself into the proper position to be able to exit a room.
That’s how Dungeon and Puzzles unfolds, forcing you to think about your positioning and how best to use the limited resources and tools on hand. Just like… a dungeon crawler. But also a puzzler. Oh! I totally understand the title now! The game starts off fairly slow but gets fiendishly challenging as you go. Just exiting a room can be tricky as is, but each level also has a par moves score if you really feel like challenging yourself. Dungeon and Puzzles garnered acclaim when it released on PC and Switch earlier this year, but for me this is the exact type of game that feels extra perfect for mobile, so if you like dungeons and/or puzzles it’s well worth tossing a few bucks at.