Super value (FREE) for unabashed monster bashing romp, with a twist of RPG, and a strong dose of humor.

User Rating: 8.5 | Dungeon Runners PC
Dungeon Runners is an MMORPG strongly based on Warcraft III for the graphics, and Diablo for the action and items, with a twist of RPG, and a strong dose of humor.

The game could be easily dismissed for a number of reasons, but the truth is it really has quite a bit in its favor, if one is willing to give it the time of day. Interestingly enough, many of its weak points are also its strong points, and vice-versa.

The first thing that drew my attention, I'll be perfectly honest, was the announcement that one could play for FREE. It's worth putting that in capital letters. This is the first point that is both a strength and a weakness. The reason is that when you read that, the first thing that comes to mind is what is the catch. Is it free because it was so bad the company decided it would be bad marketing to try and sell it? Or is it free because it is was developed at the time of the first PC, and is considered abandonware? Well, it's neither, but more on that in a bit.

The action is an unabashed monster bashing romp, set in colorful backgrounds with woods areas, dungeon areas, hell areas, snow/ice areas, etc. The graphics are not cutting edge, nor do they try to be. They are extremely Warcraft IIIish, and while that may not appeal to gamers who put together expensive systems able to crank out playable frame rates in games such as Crysis, it means that people stuck on primitive systems such as mine, an Athlon64 2.2GHz with an nVidia 7300GS, or mid-range laptops, can play it and enjoy a fluid experience along with everyone else even on a 1280x1024 resolution. Before you start complaining, let's remember the cost again. Still, that alone isn't a reason to play, of course.

What separates this game from others, is its strong tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. This game doesn't even begin to take itself seriously. In fact, it goes out of its way to do just the opposite. Expecting to start with a *bronze* dagger and work yourself up to a Massive Demonic Vorpal Sword of Destruction? Not here. Here, at the lower levels, you may find yourself with a cardboard (yes, you read that correctly) junkyard mattock of hysteria in your right-hand, equipped with an intergalactic cereal box ring of the bunny, and at level 100 may find yourself supremely armed with Sissirat's Brother's Cousin's Roommate's Staff of Something Really Awesome. Before you think I'm trying to be funny, know that these are typical, genuine items of the game.

The missions are often on a similar vein, even if they still amount to typical fetch or kill missions. The humor surrounding it does make a difference in spite of it all, and it does give it a different tone.

One can play alone perfectly well, or play as a team. The team play brought into evidence a very nice feature that was quite novel to me. I'd played Titan's Quest against my nephews here at home, and inevitably there would be quite a bit of bickering on the division of the loot. Fairplay and good manners about being sure everyone got their due would go straight out the window the minute a powerful item was dropped on the ground. So when a player offered to team up with me, I was a bit skeptical on how this would go. Well, it was clear that problem couldn't occur. After our first big fight, we immediately saw this was a non-issue. One pile of gold was labeled "Belongs to BonkMaster" and the other was labeled as being his. And nothing we could do would change this. To further encourage teams, the monster descriptions changed announcing that some had 38% more hit points, did 15% more damage, but came with 75% more loot! And this included more quality items as well. Getting killed and finding yourself cut off from your partner, stuck in a big battle, was a non-issue as well, Just right-click on his name, select 'Go TO', and you would be instantly teleported back to him. If you were the one left alone, and found yourself outgunned, running is a perfectly acceptable option until your partner returned.

So what about the *free* part? Well, the game does have, and encourages, a $4.99/month subscription rate. Without it, you have an obligatory banner at the top of your screen, and you'll have a few limitations on actual items. Only 25% of the high-range items are available to non-subscribers, and you can't benefit from the larger, stackable, potion sizes. However, if you really can't afford $5 for a full month, you can still play for free and have fun, and if you want the member benefits, $5 it must be said, is really very little.

All said, I found it was well worth the price of admission, and great value for the shameless simplified fun, good for a bit of escape.