Delving Into Dungeons

Plagued by gnawing uncertainty.

There are few things as satisfying as crawling through a crumbling dungeon while being besieged by hordes of monsters. Clinging to that last scrap of bread as your hunger grows, but pressing on in hopes of acquiring great treasure and attaining even greater glory. It’s often an entirely perilous pursuit. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve always been fond of exploring new locations, and I’m glad that dungeon crawlers offer countless opportunities to do so while reminding you of your fragile mortality. Especially when you’re encouraged to build a fresh party of adventurers with each attempt.

As each attempt should then differ from the last.

But even if the same party is maintained with each attempt, failing the last should encourage a different approach for the next. If the RPG mechanics are adequate then the outcome should change. Which doesn’t mean that it’ll be a guaranteed success, but at least a different kind of failure.

Grim Dawn executed this exceptionally well with its challenge dungeons. While your character build remained the same, the dungeon would reset and the Skeleton Key (required to enter the dungeon) would be lost. Forgotten Gods, the second expansion pack for Grim Dawn, introduced the Shattered Realm to stand alongside challenge dungeons. However, unlike challenge dungeons, the Shattered Realm encouraged you to clear each level in the best time possible, and would offer extra rewards if you did so. Obviously Grim Dawn is not a grid-based movement dungeon crawler, but it does utilise some mechanics which would suit the genre well. I’d definitely appreciate a dungeon crawler that introduced content similar to the Shattered Realm. Rather than simply providing randomly generated floors to wearily trudge through.

A delightfully devilish interpretation of dungeon crawling mechanics.

Which is why I’m quite fond of how Book of Demons implemented its dungeon crawling mechanics. Rather than designing a fixed sequence of floors akin to Diablo, the developers opted to utilise dungeon generation mechanics which allow you to decide just how long you’d like to explore the dungeon for. I’ve actually been thinking about revisiting a few ARPGs this year. But I’ve also made a surprising number of purchases (despite not intending to) in recent months. I’ve been enoying Death end re;Quest after completing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, but I’m unsure of what I’ll be playing next.

I’ve been thinking about the Early Access for Stoneshard.

But I’ve also been thinking about (the recently purchased) Infinite Adventures. Then there’s Wasteland Remastered, which might not be a grid-based movement dungeon crawler but is certainly a worthy consideration. Especially when I’m keen to begin my post-apocalyptic adventures in Wasteland 2.

Last Epoch was another worthy consideration as that has already proven to be quite a capable ARPG. But it’s so very difficult deciding what to do next when there’s so much that I’m enthusiastic about. Let this post serve as forewarning that I’ll likely be flooding Moggie’s Proclamations with gaming content, and that I’ll be incredibly happy while doing so. There might be some creative content as well. That’s always a possibility. I’ve written before of my nostalgic love for dungeon crawlers and I’ll probably do it again. While I do love ARPGs, I’ve always enjoyed bringing together a party of adventurers with different abilities and talents. I sorely miss party-based RPGs. Which is why I’ve been investing in numerous JRPGs, as they’re often party-based with turn-based combat and those are two of my favourite things.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Book of Demons

To the depths of the cathedral we go!

Book of Demons is a rather charming ARPG (and lovingly crafted tribute to Diablo) which features an interesting combination of mechanics that work well together to create a unique experience. Items, equipment, talents, and spells are being represented as cards while character classes (and character development mechanics) are presented in a more conventional fashion. But the dungeons are composed of randomly generated exploration, events, and combat via the Flexiscope system. Which allows you to control how much progress you’ll make and how long the dungeon is.

It’s a great system if you’ve only got a certain amount of time.

Once enough progress has been made you’ll need to undertake a quest to defeat the final boss for that area. However, despite having only a few areas, and a few final bosses, the dungeons themselves are quite lengthy and don’t feel as repetitive as the random generation may suggest. In fact, due to the myriad events they’re incredibly fun to explore.

There are three character classes to choose from: the Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. The Warrior is the first available class and you’ll need to reach Lvl 5 before the other two will unlock. They rely on Artifact cards (which reserve a portion of your mana but provide different bonuses) and have few actual spells. The Rogue relies more on item cards as they have elemental arrows which can be applied to their bow, but they also utilise Artifact cards. Mages are (as expected) the most reliant on spells but do have some rather neat item cards. Each class can use the different kinds of cards, but they will have more or less of them depending on how they’re designed to explore dungeons. Warriors will usually have most of their mana reserved while Mages won’t.

I wasn’t sure about the Burning Axe at first, but now I love it.

Each card can be upgraded to a second and a third rank which usually increases the cost but also increases the effect of the card. Or adds new effects. There are magical variants of the cards, too. Which the Sage can identify at a cost but will provide randomised prefixes and suffixes for further customisation. I’m not sure if there are truly unlimited combinations of affixes and the possibility to collect hundreds of cards, but the affixes I’ve found have been useful. Each variant of the card is individual, though. So upgrading one doesn’t upgrade the others.

Item cards are also interesting as they need to be charged.

This process is usually done via the Fortune Teller and costs an amount of gold per charge. Upgrading item cards will usually increase the maximum number of charges and the effect of the card, but will also require more investment per charge. That said, item cards can also be recharged by randomised drops in the dungeons. So they’re quite flexible.

I’ve been anticipating the full release of Book of Demons for some time and it hasn’t disappointed. If anything I’m more surprised as to how many different mechanics are at work, and how they’re all working together to create something that brings a warm nostalgic joy to my heart. Even if it wasn’t a tribute to the original Diablo I’d still love it. It might have been inspired by the series (and wears that inspiration on its sleeve), but it also provides many of its own ideas that bring modern design concepts to classic design principles. If you’re a fan of ARPGs and you enjoy crawling through dungeons for sweet loot, gratuitous slaughter, and the echo of an infernal bleat in the distance then I can’t recommend Book of Demons highly enough. It’s an amazing experience.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie