Legend of Dungeon Review

Combining beat-'em-up action with randomized levels and loot, Legend of Dungeon offers just enough variety to stem the tide of repetitive gameplay.

There has been a trend lately of pairing traditional game genres with permanent death and randomized levels. Legend of Dungeon continues that trend. It's a beat-'em-up with a procedurally generated dungeon, permanent death, and lots of randomized loot to collect. It doesn't do anything drastically new with any one of those elements, but it combines them into a fun hybrid that is easy to pick up and has enough to discover to make it worth exploring.

There are many types of enemies in the dungeon, including a few that might look familiar.

The eponymous dungeon features 26 randomly generated floors full of monsters, loot, and gold. Even the music is randomized, ensuring that you won't get tired of hearing the same basic songs for hours on end. Your journey down begins at the inn, where you can randomize (but not customize) your appearance and, if you're wise, grab a lantern off a table. You'll need that lantern for dark rooms, but having it is also a way to show off the game's real-time lighting effects. Legend of Dungeon plays much like an arcade brawler when you're moving and fighting, but there is more exploration here than in any classic beat-'em-up. Rooms typically feature multiple doorways to explore while you're searching for the next staircase leading down, and it would be easy to get lost if the game didn't helpfully light up which door you just came from (a red light) and which doors you've been through before (purple lights).

For the first few floors, the gameplay is simple to a fault, with nothing to do but move around and whack enemies repeatedly until they die. The game has role-playing-game-like qualities, such as leveling up and collecting varied loot, but there are no classes to choose from and very little variety in how the weapons work (you have either a simple melee swing or a long-range projectile). There is also only one attack button, though you can charge an attack for increased damage. If you're looking for action that's more complex than an old Gauntlet arcade game, Legend of Dungeon will make a bad first impression.

But as you delve deeper and encounter more items and enemies, the game starts revealing more of its goofy charm. Some of this charm comes in the form of hats, which are the game's only armor type. Many hats are relatively standard, like a knight's helm or a miner's helmet (particularly useful because it has a light on it). But some headgear is much less serious, like koala ears, a leprechaun hat, or simply a cat that you stick on top of your head. There comes a moment when you're wearing a speed-increasing fish head and are firing lasers out of a cat when you realize that this game isn't as much about deep systems as it is about having some simple fun.

It can be hard to find your way around in the dark, but at least you get to see some nifty lighting.

That fun and chaos can be increased when enjoyed by up to four players. Unfortunately, this can only be done locally because the game doesn't have an online mode, but controls for both the keyboard and gamepads are fully customizable. If you die in multiplayer, your friends can revive you by collecting the souls of defeated enemies, making progress a little easier as a group. The number of souls needed increases each time you die, but early on it's a good way to quickly get back into the action (though you will have lost your loot). Thankfully, the camera is smart enough to pull away from the action as players walk away from each other in a room, making sure nobody is offscreen (though things may get tough to see if you let the camera go back too far).

Unfortunately, Legend of Dungeon lacks some of the refinement seen in comparable randomized games. One major annoyance is the cumbersome inventory. Everything you pick up, including weapons, hats, and potions, is put onto the same vertical inventory bar. You can scroll through the inventory only one item at a time, and organizing it is next to impossible. Say you have more than 10 items, and you've switched to your lantern to navigate a dark room. A powerful enemy is approaching, so rather than whack it with your lantern, you want to equip a more powerful weapon. But as you frantically scroll through your items looking for it, you take damage. So you start to frantically scroll through to find a potion that you know will heal you, only by the time you finally land on it, it's too late. Because of this clunky system, you will want to drop weapons not due to weight or limited space, but because your inventory is a huge pain to manage otherwise.

As with other games of this type, the biggest draw is the sense of discovery. After hours of play, you still happen upon new items, new weapons, and new enemies that keep you guessing. Your first encounter with a vampire is memorable, and there is plenty of excitement in stumbling upon a powerful hat. Many rooms feature switches and hidden pressure plates that might lead to exciting new places, though it can be a pain if your progress is halted because the door you need to go through is hidden. Because the game doesn't hold your hand, a lot of trial and error accompanies every new element that is introduced. Even when that element hates you (such as an enemy that kills you almost immediately), it's hard to get too angry when you feel like you're learning and improving with each game. And you'll need to do a lot of improving. Legend of Dungeon is not an easy game, and reaching the treasure on the 26th floor is probably a feat that few players will achieve.

Exploring is more fun when you use the buddy system.

With its bare-bones animation and one-button combat, your enjoyment of Legend of Dungeon will depend on how much you appreciate its random chaos. If judged as either a beat-'em-up or a roguelike, the game would be found lacking. As a combination of the two genres, however, it offers just enough variety, and is just different enough from its inspirations, to give it that "just one more run" feel. The action isn't as tight or compelling as in other games of its ilk, but this legend can provide a lot of chaotic fun with friends. Just don't expect the dungeon to go too deep.

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The Good
Lots of items and enemies to discover
Addictive sense of exploration
Easy to pick up
Fun with friends
The Bad
Combat is too basic
Inventory management is a chore
Multiplayer is local only
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Britton Peele is a freelance writer for GameSpot and a Digital Entertainment Editor for The Dallas Morning News. Find him on Twitter @BrittonPeele.
25 comments
arindam1
arindam1

Not another retro pixel game again! we played that in the 80s and 90s and wondered when would we get realistic graphics. Now the same shit back again as novelty. Its like living like a caveman once again, even if the fun factor has worn off.
 Ok devs, you had fun for a while, now give us proper graphics please!

majere613
majere613

Have to say, I'm getting a little tired of retro pixel art graphics on everything. I grew up with the 8-bit era, I've seen all that before thanks very much!

keviac
keviac

To low of a score considering its price. Its  a budget title. I vote a new review or a second opinion.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

It looks gash from the screenshots though they seem to have put a little splash of colour in there which was a big mistake. Everyone knows the worse an indie game looks the higher the score it gets on Gamespot.

dzimm
dzimm

There is no place to sell your loot, so you have no reason to keep anything other than what you're actually using.  Discard anything you don't absolutely need, and inventory management becomes much more, well, manageable.

Anyway, 6.0?  That seems awfully low for a review that didn't point out any significant faults.  

fatherofsword
fatherofsword

This pixelated-with-modern-lighting-effects style looks neat!

Does anybody know if they're adding online multiplayer for this game?

MashedBuddha
MashedBuddha

@arindam1 So don't play games like this, there are more than enough games with realistic graphics...

meatz666
meatz666

@arindam1 You're saying that I can't make a black and white old school movie because it's demode? 

iHarlequin
iHarlequin

@arindam1 Plenty of people enjoy indie games, even if their style is retro. There are indie games with pixelated graphics that look better than triple-AAA games released this generation. Don't speak as if you represent the whole gaming community.

PET_
PET_

@keviac Since when the price of a game influcences the review score?

"Ah right.. 10$ game... 10/10 GOTY".

Saketume
Saketume

@fatherofsword  

I tried to find out since that would make a world of difference for me when deciding to buy this or not.

Looking at their kickstarter page they exceeded their $5k goal but didn't make their $40k stretchgoal that included online and LAN multiplayer (it ended up on $32999).

So I'd say it's within the realm of possibilites but unlikely.

fingers crossed but don't hold your breath.

dzimm
dzimm

@PET_ @keviac I think value should be taken into consideration when reviewing a game. It's not fair to expect a small budget indie title to have the same kind of glitz as one with $40-million bankroll.

herman1978
herman1978

@Saketume I'm sure if the game does OK on Steam they will try and go online multiplayer. These guys sold their home and lived in a tree house (literally) just to focus on making this game so they seem pretty dedicated, if not a little bizarre and counter-productive. 

I'm one of the few that is excited about good old fashioned LAN multiplayer. A feature overlooked by most games now-a-days.

keviac
keviac

Local multi not slip screen.

keviac
keviac

@PET_ @dzimm @keviac I just feel like some reviewers love charming indie games like this, and others are just looking for something that's not there. I have played many indie games that have been on this site and can say the reviews like all are based on opinion and in turn super inconsistent, i feel like this game could have got a 7 from other reviewers or even an 8 (probably not lol). I just feel like this game is one of the best split screen games ive played in recent years. Which blows my mind how few good ones there are now adays.

dzimm
dzimm

@greater_bird @dzimm @PET_ No, I would not consider those to be significant faults.  The reviewer claims that the combat is "too basic", but later in the review he concedes that "There comes a moment when you're wearing a speed-increasing fish head and are firing lasers out of a cat when you realize that this game isn't as much about deep systems as it is about having some simple fun."  This is a bad thing?  I don't see how.  Calling "inventory management a chore" is simply the reviewer not understanding how to play the game.  You're not supposed to horde items -- there's no place to sell them, and there's no reason to keep anything but the very best equipment you've found -- and the inventory management design reflects that sensibility.  If you get in the habit of discarding whatever you don't absolutely need then the inventory management system actually works quite well.  Finally, "multiplayer is local only" is a description, not a meaningful criticism. 

segaman12
segaman12

@greater_bird @dzimm @PET_  i agree with the first post.  the ability of a title should be measured , in part, by its budget.  its just like movies.  a low budget movie cant afford to hire great actors or sfx but may have a great story.  you cant take away from its merits based on its lack of  funds to afford 'better'. a game like this may nit have the funding to develop better ai or pay for more animation etc. im not disagreeing with the score, nor am i agreeing with it.  im simply advocating the pov that the budget is a factor when developing and playing a game so it should be a factor when reviewing

greater_bird
greater_bird

@dzimm @PET_  Dunno about you, but I consider "Combat is too basic. Inventory management is a chore. Multiplayer is local only." to be a list of significant faults. In fact, the review spent as much time talking about things the reviewer didn't like as things he did.

dzimm
dzimm

@PET_ Except that the reviewer explicitly said that the game was fun, and he never pointed out any significant faults that would justify such a low score.  It would seem to me that "Fun game, no significant faults, low price" deserves something higher than a 6.0.

dzimm
dzimm

Double post.

good_evil
good_evil

@dzimm @PET_ @keviac Plus GS already gives quite good scores for indie games and platformers. And on those reviews ppl are commenting "it shouldn't be so high score just because it is indie".

GS is usually quite accurate with a score, sometimes they fail, like with Rome 2. If it would be 1st game in the series, score would be right, but as sequel it should be 6/10. Same problem with COD...

PET_
PET_

@dzimm @PET_ @keviac Wrong. The game supposed to be fun. You can have fun with a FREE game or with a 1000$ game. Price is just a price.

Just because it is an indie it does not make it more fun.

A reviewer will never go like "Ah, this game is not really fun, it has problems but HEY, it's an indie... 9/10".

komuchen
komuchen

@herman1978 @Saketume they are the guys that actually need a Kickstarter and it should be for that purpose. Not for that Inafune asshole, abusing KS.

That's why there are some nice scams

Legend of Dungeon More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Legend of Dungeon is a four-player co-op beat-'em-up with dynamic lighting on pixel art.
    5.6
    Average Rating13 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Legend of Dungeon
    Developed by:
    Robot Loves Kitty
    Published by:
    Robot Loves Kitty
    Genre(s):
    Beat-'Em-Up, Action