By: Quinn Potter
Quest of Dungeons would like to welcome you to the world of roguelikes, where you are an adventurer crawling through dungeons. You’ve been here before, haven’t you? Then welcome back, old friend. Back to the time when personal computers were the size of small cars, graphics were highly pixelated, and the background music for video games sounded as if it had been recorded in the elevator of your father’s office building.
Controls are okay, but they’re not intuitive. “A” is attack and “B” is for your special ability. You can remap the controls if you’d like, but there’s nothing super-special or exciting to discover here.
Graphics are critical to a nostalgic game like this. Images are, of course, 16-bit and highly pixelated. The narrative unfolds in typed dispatches that appear as short, terse ALL CAPS statements. (Remaining true to the old-school style, much of the narrative is barely legible because of this.)
Quest’s sound track is full-on easy listening. There’s a jazzy little number when you enter the shop (seriously, sometimes I wandered in to just groove out on the music), but nothing else on the soundtrack is as distinct.
The rest of your gameplay will consist of light pan-flutes and synthesizers, but that’s about it. That being said, the music manages to be repetitive without being annoying, so it’s actually soothing and a good fit for the game.
Sound effects aren’t super, but this is a throwback game that honors vintage gaming – fireballs sound like someone waving two pie plates back and forth, the monsters’ roar resemble a deep burp or snore, and there are a number of vintage bleeps and bloops from the early ‘80s.
Welcome to Quest of Dungeons. Choose your character: Druid, warrior, assassin or shaman. Each has a different look, weapon, and strategy needed to work through the dungeons. After that you’ll watch a little clip where you meet up with the others at a campfire. You’ll pause here to listen to their sage advice…. What?! Yes, of course you will be going in alone.
Enter the dungeon to collect valuables: weapons, stones, armor, food, potions, gold, etc. Use the map in the upper right of the screen to help you navigate a path as you fight off monsters and try to achieve your primary goal of killing the Dark Lord so light can return to the land.
So far, so good. Not a heavy backstory, no local or online co-op options. Enemies are all pre-programmed, so there are no big surprises. Leave a room for awhile and enemies will respawn, so you’ll fight them again. The layout is procedural, so you won’t find things in the same places when you replay. This is good because it keeps up your interest level when you inevitably die.
And, yes, you will die. Be prepared for a mini-boss battle at anytime and shoot first when it happens. Because if those mini-bosses win (and they will), you die and lose everything.
As with pretty much every roguelike, that’s the fly in the ointment, the sheer frustration of losing everything and the fact that the game can be a bit difficult even at the normal setting because of this. My advice? Start with the easy setting to work your way through and get a feel for the dungeons before moving into normal mode.
Step back in time Quest of Dungeons, which honors vintage PC gaming from the good old days, and get some good vibes flowing with the heavy pixilation and synthesized music while you enjoy the modern conveniences of actually having a controller (not a keyboard), highly-responsive characters and smooth transitions.