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Deep Dungeons of Doom

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Emerges triumphant

Product: Deep Dungeons of Doom | Developer: MiniBoss Studios | Developer: Bossa Studios | Publisher: Bossa Studios | Format: iPad | Genre: Adventure, Retro, RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Deep Dungeons of Doom iPad, thumbnail 1
With everything from match-three puzzlers to baseball simulators borrowing liberally from the RPG genre to gain a new angle and a little more depth, it's only fair that an RPG returns the favour.

Deep Dungeons of Doom unashamedly flaunts its gloriously statty RPG roots. It's got pixellated graphics and little coloured numbers and loot and turn-based battles and everything.

But developer Bossa Studios is also mindful of the tricks that make iOS gaming so immediately compelling.

Running before you can crawl

Deep Dungeons of Doom is a dungeon-crawler, but with most of the frustrating bits taken out, and with the onus on instant gratification.

There's no aimless wandering in between fights - instead you flick between single-screen fights like you would a digital photo gallery, swiping up and down to move through the levels.

Fights, too, are far removed from the drawn-out stat-driven exchanges of traditional RPGs. Rather, you take direct control of your Mercenary, Witch, or Crusader in each one-on-one stand-off.

Each battle is a simple two-button affair - one to block, the other to attack. It takes a while for your attack bar to refill, so button-mashing is not an option, and you also need to watch for each enemy's unique attack cue in order to raise your defences in time.

Fighting the fine fight

This battle system is extremely simple, but there's just enough depth to make it rewarding.

There's a finely balanced risk-reward system at play, whereby you can land a heavy hit by attacking as your opponent attacks. You can also recharge health or magic by holding the 'attack' button, but this also leaves you exposed.

IAPs explained
You can play the first few dungeons here for free. But if you want to unlock the subsequent six - which includes an endless variant - you'll have to pay £1.99 / $2.99.

A bundle of five revives will set you back £2.99 / $4.99, which seems a little expensive to us.

You can also buy the game's coin currency in order to improve your character and buy more loot. This costs £1.99 for 500 gold coins.
Added to this are the various pieces of loot that you'll uncover, from new weapon enhancements to potions. Powerful items often come at a cost to your other abilities, so it's rarely a case of just making your character stronger or tougher in a linear sense.

Deep Dungeons of Doom's world is deeply arresting, despite the cliched fantasy setting. Yes, it's yet another demonstration of retro pixel-art, but it's done with a thoroughly modern sensibility.

It reminded me of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery as much as any traditional RPG, and its world is brimming with dark humour and character.

Doom and gloom

Deep Dungeons of Doom doesn't quite see this winning formula through to its glorious conclusion, though.

The game's battles, while interesting, can grow repetitive as you fall into familiar rhythms of attack and defence. There needs to be a little more variation in the bog-standard monsters you fight en route to each imaginative boss.

Then there's our old friend the freemium model. You get a decent amount of content for free here, and we don't begrudge the requirement to spend £1.99 to unlock six subsequent dungeons.

But the way you're prodded into splashing out for revivals - allowing you to continue from where you fell (and fall you will) - feels overly harsh and restrictive. You get one free at the end of each dungeon, but it's not quite enough.

Despite these letdowns, though, Deep Dungeons of Doom remains one of the freshest and most thoughtfully reconstructed RPGs on iOS for quite some time.
 
Deep Dungeons of Doom
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 11 June 2013
Deep Dungeons of Doom is an extremely bright take on the RPG with an intuitive timing-based battle system and gorgeous pixel-art visuals
 
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