Publisher: Versus Evil
Released: July 14 2015
Guild of Dungeoneering is simply a marvellous game. From the delightful tavern-like music to the stylistic hand drawn aesthetic, Guild of Dungeoneering is a fresh spin on the traditional RPG with simple card game and puzzle mechanics thrown in for good measure.
Guild of Dungeoneering’s gameplay mechanics are simple and easy to pick up. The dungeon exploring aspect revolves around cards that can be divided into two types, navigating and combat. When you are exploring the dungeon, you have a hand of 5 and can place 3 cards each turn. After your turn ends your hero moves of his/her own accord, usually heading to the closest enemy or piece of loot. Your three cards can either build the dungeon around you, place enemies for your dungeoneer to encounter, or place loot for them to collect along the way. I often found placing loot was the better way of turning your hero’s nose in another direction to avoid a more powerful enemy or to level up on weaker enemies and gain better items.
The combat part of dungeoneering has you drawing three cards and choosing one to use against your enemy. The cards will deal a certain amount of magical or physical damage to an enemy, or block incoming attacks. There are also card effects that let you draw more cards, take cards out of your opponents hands, allow you to regain health, or sacrifice health for extra damage. The card effects are displayed in colour coded icons that take mere seconds to figure out. As well as accessible card based combat, you can also improve your chances in a fight by finding and equipping loot after defeating enemies in the form of a hat, a weapon, an offhand weapon, or armor. These items will usually gift you with extra cards or extra health to survive longer. Or you can do as I do and take the money every single time.
Though the game is an RPG, you won’t have to worry about being swept up in all kinds of lore. The story is very clear. You play the leader of the guild of dungeoneering instead of the heroes themselves. You decide to “borrow” some gold and buy a hall, with just enough money left over to pay a chump for his services and start your guild. The chump in question is actually your starting class, randomly generated with a name you can change. I felt quite drawn to my chump Barytu and decided not to rename him Roly Mo.
The classes in the game vary throughout. You start off with a chump, the freelancer of the game, and then, once you have enough hard-earned gold, you can gain access to other classes from Cat Burglar to Alchemist to Mime and more. Each class has different cards to use in battle. For example, the Bruiser will have a lot of physically offensive and defensive cards, the Mathemagician, however, might have many magical and healing cards. Each class is different and each can be unlocked through guild upgrades.
I found the system easy to get a handle on. Each new class feels familiar to one you’ve already played before with just enough of a difference to feel like the new dungeoneer was worth the recruitment money. Because of course, what are your dungeoneers out there risking life and limb for? For them, maybe fame and acclaim, but for you, money. You want to make sure your guild members return from their perilous adventures with as much gold as possible to afford upgrades to your guild headquarters. They’ll miss those hard guild beds when they’re slaying giant rats in a cold, dark dungeon.
The game’s dungeon building mechanic is also used to customize your base by placing individual rooms adjacent to each other. I found myself paying a more than average amount of time planning my guild to have a barracks/training wing, an entertainment wing, and a random wing (I didn’t plan very well). It’s a nice touch and one that didn’t need to be included but definitely brought that extra something to the game. I have to say the most traumatic moment for me was losing one of my dungeoneers, my chump, and having to build a graveyard to accommodate his corpse. Soon enough, my graveyard slowly grew more cramped as I played.
Beyond placing rooms, the customisable aspect was lacking. I had no qualms with the name “Guild of Dungeoneering” and if I had the choice to create a better name I wouldn’t have succeeded. For players who wish to rename their guild or even customise the dungeoneers beyond names, you unfortunately won’t have the option to do so.
The sound design in particular is clearly one that was taken with extra care. The moment you boot up the game you are greeted with a song of yore recounting the tales of the guild of dungeoneering. The whole intro song gave me the feeling that I could be sitting by the fire with a mug of ale listening to a group of bards recount the tales of the guild. As far as first impressions go, this game made a very strong one. The rest of the game is littered with little solos here and there as each time you gain a new class, or earn a new trophy or with the untimely death of one of your allies, comes the sultry swooning voice of a bard detailing the events in rhyme.
Guild of Dungeoneering is a wonderful change of pace for those who have been stuck in the dredges of their favourite FPS or RPG for far too long. In fact, this game is a refresher for anyone, as the game mixes just the right amount from different genres to create a long lasting experience. The game is also highly replayable, with each player’s journey through dungeons being ever so slightly different with each class and card you place.
I feel the game would benefit highly towards mobile platforms. The player input depends largely upon the mouse, making the game perfect for touch controls. I feel the game is so accessible too, that it’s a good choice for a game to simply pick up and play on a half hour train ride or during your lunch break.