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Dungeon Lore

For: iPad
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Bored game

Product: Dungeon Lore | Publisher: 3D Attack Games3D Attack Games | Format: iPad | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: US
Dungeon Lore iPad, thumbnail 1
I'd like to begin this review with some context: I love tabletop RPGs. I've been a member of a weekly game since 2003, I adored Crimson Shroud, and I almost wept with joy when Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition was released

With that in mind, it pains me to say that Dungeon Lore is bad. Almost inconceivably bad.

It would be one thing if it were a bad game based on a bad premise, but it comes so close to being a game worth getting excited over that its quick and all-encompassing disappointment makes its painful gameplay that much harder to endure.

Saving throw vs. learning curve

As with Baldur's Gate and Crimson Shroud, much of Dungeon Lore's appeal is that it relies on actual dice rolls to resolve combat and ability checks.

Unlike Baldur's Gate and Crimson Shroud, this really seems to be the only mechanic driving Dungeon Lore forward.

Whereas the other two games spend time to draw you into the plot and establish a mood, Dungeon Lore plunks you at the controls of a nameless, mute protagonist and orders you to go and kill rats.

This is a strategy that many great RPGs open with, admittedly, but killing rats in Dungeon Lore isn't as routine as you'd like it to be.

Combat is unpredictable and slow, with monsters sometimes receiving three to five attacks to your two. And although the overall layout and design of the combat interface are quite nice, you can - and probably will - spend two or three hours in the inn's basement levelling up without making any noticeable progress in your quest to kill the rat queen.

Rolling over

The end result of this wonky combat system is that you're likely to 'zerg' the dungeons you encounter, which reduces your (assumed) hero to the role of regenerative cannon fodder.

Since there's no penalty for dying past starting the level over (you retain your XP and loot), an effective - if extremely tedious - approach is to grind through a few rooms to level-up, die so that your hit points and magic reset themselves, and then repeat the process.

This worked quite well in my playthrough, although after four hours I was still unable to kill the rat queen or distribute any of the stat points I had earned while levelling up.

What makes all of this disappointing is that Dungeon Lore comes close, almost painfully close, to being a good game.

Each time you enter a new room, colourful dialogue establishes environment and mood nicely, and there's even a bit of ominous voice acting that reminds you of your friend trying his best to stay serious whilst describing an epic battle behind his dungeon master's screen.

Critical Miss

Sadly, the attempt at establishing atmosphere can't compensate for Dungeon Lore's lack of overarching story or its ponderous and gruelling combat system.

To this end, calling Dungeon Lore a role-playing game seems a bit off: there's really no role for you to play, and the only similarities it bears to an RPG are its combat system and presentation.

Ultimately, Dungeon Lore is a component of a role-playing game that's been torn from its natural environment and forced to carry a game on its own. Without a supporting plot, background mechanics, or sense of player investment, it's little more than an exercise in chucking dice and hoping for the best.
Dungeon Lore
Reviewer photo
Matthew Diener | 31 January 2013
More roll-playing than role-playing, this game promises much and delivers little more than a quick RPG combat fix
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