A refuge for jaded MMO players that are sick of the seriousness of most titles as well as their extreme time commitment

User Rating: 8 | Dungeon Runners PC
Before I get started on my Dungeon Runner's review, let me begin by saying that I am a WoW refugee. I finally have cut myself off from that tedious, time consuming yet addictive game that sucked away my otherwise potentially productive hours and became more of an obsession rather than a fun, benign diversion. I was sick of having to schedule my life around raiding. I was tired of time sink after time sink. And worst of all was that I could hardly do anything without devoting at least a few hours per sitting, during which time I could. not. leave. the. computer. That was the clincher for me- I had to get away.

However, I was not ready to completely give up on MMOs. So I returned to Dungeon Runners to give it another shot, and what I found was a sparkling little gem of a game that trades off the depth and immersion that most MMOs strive to achieve for humor, charm, and accessibility. And thankfully the lag that plagued the game before is gone, which was previously my primary turn-off. This game is NOT a competitor with any standard MMO. Rather, it is an alternative type of game whose appeal will be for those people that don't want to sacrifice their lives to a game or are sick of the tedium of traditional MMOs.

If one were to start with a point of comparison with another MMO, NC-Soft's more well-known Guild Wars is probably most similar. Both games are centered around communal hubs from which players form groups and venture out into the instanced world. Both games have fast combat and fast post-combat recovery (i.e. no food for HP recovery or drink for MP recovery, but DR has potions for use in combat.)

Otherwise, it is in some ways more simiar Diablo, Fate, and other traditional-style RPGs as well as traditional MMOs like WoW. Much like in Diablo and Fate, the world is divided into levels. Upgrades are via gear. After leveling, you manually spend talent points and must pay gold to "re-spec" your talent points. And new skills are purchased, so once you have enough gold and are a high enough level, you can buy as many skills as you can afford. However, the prices of new skills are so high, so don't count on acquiring them necessarily when you reach the appropriate level.

Another thing that makes Dungeon Runners much more like Diablo is that there are no support classes. Basically every class is damage oriented with some utility abilities. The three classes are warriors (melee-oriented), rangers (ranged-oriented), and mages (caster ranged oriented). Warriors do have some tanking abilities such as those to increase monster hate, but groups do not require tanks; rangers and mages can clear dungeons without a tanking warrior. Though some may argue that this takes away depth from the game, it should be a relief to healers or tanks in other MMOs that couldn't farm because of their raid spec or to any player that had to call a run after 3 hours of waiting for a key support class they couldn't find.

Another interesting detail about the class system is that any character of any class can buy any other class's skills or even passive stat bonuses/drawbacks. The only difference between the classes is what abilities and passive effects they start out with for "free." Otherwise, any character can become any other class or any class combination as long as they have the gold to buy skills and the gear to support it. However, I am not sure about the viability of hybrid characters, as most high level players just stick with some variation of the base classes.

One reason for this game's appeal to the cynical MMO player is its humor, which is in everything from the items' names, such as "class rings" and "common, name-brand relics," to the witty and well-done voice overs of the NPCs and occasionally in the quest text. The review below me has no idea what the word "pretentious" means, because this game is anything but pretentious.

As for the quests themselves, none of them reward equipment. Rather, all of them award money, and some award "King's Coins" as well which can be traded for a random piece of equipment suitable for a particular class. Unfortunately, this element of randomness can mean you can get equipment that isn't good for you, but at least King's Coins quests are not very difficult to fulfill while you're grinding through the various levels of the dungeons.

And grind you shall. This game isn't story driven, and in that way is more similar to Fate than other games. It is a true dungeon crawler, with randomized floors every time the world is reset, which can be done by will or which is done automatically after logging out for a preset amount of time. However, the order of the levels and certain elements on each level are always present. There are plenty of bosses and special, more powerful mobs on each level to add interest to the game and plenty of levels to explore.

Travel is mercifully made much easier by waypoint scrolls. These allow the player to setup a waypoint at his or her location on the current dungeon level to which the player can return. If the dungeon is reset, the waypoint is still present in the same, albeit newly-generated, level.

In addition, the player is allowed to change the difficulty level at any time. Increasing the difficulty level increases the health of mobs, the damage mobs deal, and the amount of loot mobs drop.

The game is free to download and play, but in order to use any decent gear, you have to pay a $5 monthly member subscription fee. The cheap price is another welcomed feature to former MMO players.

My main criticism is that I want more. I want more mob types. I want more humor. I want plenty of more player abilities and some more depth of play. But NCSoft has said that it is starting to implement a series of new content patches (which they lovingly call "chunks") that will attempt to sate their player base's hunger. In addition, there is no attempt to get rid of the grind, but then again I don't feel any compelling reason to level my character really quickly or to not enjoy the grind up.

Don't expect Dungeon Runners to give you the same engrossing gameplay experience of a traditional MMO. Don't expect it to become a second life for you. Do expect a game full of charm that you can easily get a satisfying half an hour to couple of hours worth of play time out of per sitting that won't make you feel like a slave to your computer.