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Role-playing Video Games

Dungeons of Dredmor

Well, my Monster Hunter introductory guide is taking longer than expected to write up. As usual I always plan on writing just enough about the game to help someone understand it and then I end up with something like 5,000 plus words covering much more than I expected. Anyway, that’s kind of beside the point, today I’ll be looking at another older game, released on 13 July, 2011, known as Dungeons of Dredmor which just so happens to be another game that I really like. It would belong in the Indie party mini-series but I have decided to go a bit more in-depth with this one since it’s extra awesome.

Dungeons of Dredmor Dungeons of Dredmor

What is Dungeons of Dredmor and what are rogue-likes?

So, Dungeons of Dredmor (official site) is, as I said, a rogue-like, but I’ve never explained exactly what the rogue-like sub-genre is, have I? Well, to simplify everything, the term rogue-like is a tip of the hat to Rogue, a dungeon crawler first developed by Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman around 1980. This is the game that popularised dungeon crawling as a video/computer game trope and directly inspired Hack, which in turn led to NetHack, and rogue-likes have since influenced games outside the sub-genre, such as Diablo. The numerous variations of Rogue that were created maintained the same core principles, but often expanded on the depth of game-play, story, and the persistence of the generated dungeon levels. The game-play elements characterising the new rogue-like sub-genre were actually defined at the International Rogue-like Development Conference 2008, named the Berlin Interpretation. Some of the factors used in this definition include:

  • Randomly generated dungeon levels, with or without static levels included as well. Generated layouts typically incorporate rooms connected by corridors, some of which may be pre-set to a degree. Open areas or natural features, like rivers, may also occur.
  • The identity of magical items varies between each play-through. Newly discovered objects only offer a vague physical description that is randomised, with purposes and capabilities left unstated. Items are often subject to alteration, acquiring specific traits, such as a curse, or direct player modification.
  • The combat system is turn-based whilst game-play is usually step-based, where player actions are performed serially and take a variable measure of in-game time to complete. Game processes such as monster movement and interaction, progressive effects such as poisoning or starvation advance based on the passage of time dictated by these actions.
  • Most are single-player games. On multi-user systems, leader-boards are often shared between players. Some rogue-likes allow traces of former player characters to appear in later game sessions in the form of ghosts or grave markings, whilst some games, such as NetHack, even have the player’s former characters reappear as enemies within the dungeon.
  • Rogue-likes traditionally implement permadeath which basically means that once a character dies, the player must begin a new game. A save game feature will only provide suspension of game-play and not a limitlessly recoverable state as the stored session is deleted upon resumption or character death.

These are the basics of the rogue-like sub-genre and, although there are other elements that may be seen in one of these games, this factors are the core of it all. But enough about the rogue-like sub-genre, you came here to find out more about Dungeons of Dredmor, right? Well, for starters, Dungeons of Dredmor runs on PC, Linux, and Mac, and you can buy it for a modest $4.99 US. Before I start going on about my opinion of this game and whether or not it gives us the features that it says it will, I will leave you to a couple of screenshots and the developer’s introduction to the game first.

Dungeons of Dredmor Dungeons of Dredmor

Dungeons of Dredmor introduction and game features

Long ago, the evil Lord Dredmor was bound in the darkest dungeons beneath the earth by great and mighty heroes. Centuries later, the magical bonds that hold him in place are loosening and his power grows ever stronger. The land cries out for a new hero, a powerful warrior or a mystic wizard like those spoken of in the prophecies of yore.

What they have, unfortunately, is you.

  • Classic Roguelike gameplay with the sweet, refreshing taste of point-and-click interfaces. No longer must you press CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-x to drink a potion.
  • Randomly generated dungeons entice you with the sweet, sweet promises of treasure and… things.
  • Old-school pixel goodness. Face lovingly hand-animated monsters and enjoy the great taste of beautiful, individually rendered items on top of a sea of gorgeous, potent tile-work.
  • Wield the awesome power of the Anvil of Krong, lest it wield you!
  • Incredibly complicated crafting system! Wield relics of the Great Elven/Dwarven conflict; grind down ingots to make powdered aluminum and shove it directly up your nostrils!
  • Hordes of monsters never-before-seen in a video game!
  • Deploy cunning traps to defeat your foes!
  • Infinite replay value: choose from a selection of mind-boggling skills to create your character. A new gameplay experience awaits every time!
  • Did we mention there‚Äôs lutefisk?

Does Dungeons of Dredmor deliver all of these features in a fun package? Well, I might have given it away when I said I really like this game because if I didn’t like what it tries to offer and the fact that it offers those thing successfully, would I like it so much? Probably not. This is a great game, and I will show you why.

Dungeons of Dredmor Dungeons of Dredmor

How it looks, getting about, and the dungeon layout in a nutshell

I’m not one to care a great deal about graphics, although I would much prefer quality 2D graphics over bad 3D graphics, but if the game is good, then the game is good, isn’t it? With that in mind, the graphics in Dungeons of Dredmor are nice, but we’re looking at 2D pixel graphics here – they’re either drawn well or not drawn well and the game either translates well to higher resolutions or it doesn’t. Really, there’s not that much to get into when it comes to these types of graphics, so I’m just going to say that Dungeons of Dredmor looks good and it does so on all resolutions that I’ve tried.

The dungeons are randomly generated in Dungeons of Dredmor, and they are generated in a manner that’s not overly random, but random enough that we won’t get bored of the levels – there’s a good balance between the two. Also, each level has a distinct theme which, once we’ve stepped foot into that level for the first time, unlocks that theme for the secret room our character can teleport to and store items and equipment in.

The controls are simple enough, as most rogue-like controls seem to be these days, but we also have options to use your movement keys as the “pick up item” key when we move over something we want to pick up, which is cool. Just don’t go trying that to disarm traps, our character will have a bad time. Other useful options are being able to change what the default for picking something up and putting it into our bag or action bar, as well as clicking to move.

Items, equipment, and monsters

Finally we are getting to the more important stuff. That being the variety of enemies and gear, since this is a dungeon crawler after all. To put it simply, the amount of variety is satisfying, but to be more specific, have a look for yourself at the numbers below (whilst remembering that I counted them myself and that I might, on the rare occasion, be off by one or two).

Weapons Armour Crafting Ingredients
Dungeons of Dredmor
  • 44 × Swords
  • 15 × Daggers
  • 29 × Axes
  • 38 × Maces
  • 18 × Staves
  • 15 × Polearms
  • 20 × Crossbows
  • 28 × Thrown Weapons
  • 40 × Bolts
  • 34 × Traps
  • 22 × Wands
  • 13× Tomes
Dungeons of Dredmor
  • 48 × Headgear
  • 43 × Body Armour
  • 13 × Belts
  • 11 × Pants
  • 20 × Boots
  • 12 × Gloves
  • 41 × Shields
  • 31 × Rings
  • 13 × Amulets
Dungeons of Dredmor
  • 13 × Ingots
  • 12 × Reagents
  • 12 × Gems
  • 10 × Minerals
  • 7 × Components
Misc. Items Consumables Monsters
Dungeons of Dredmor
  • 7 × Tools
  • 11 × Quest Items
Dungeons of Dredmor
  • 25 × Potions
  • 31 × Food
  • 17 × Drinks
  • 12 × Fungi
Dungeons of Dredmor
  • 62+ Monsters

Okay, so we now know that there is quite a bit of content, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good. I could tell you that each item, piece of equipment, and monster is well thought out and quite original, but then you would be just taking my word for it, wouldn’t you? Instead, I have a better idea. Let us browse a little through some of the various items and monsters and see what we get.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Omnipotent Pork Sword
The least kosher sword in the dungeon, the Omnipotent Pork Sword sweats with the sweet juices of tasty pig. Ladies love the omnipotent pork sword.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Blobby
Gloppus Gloppus Generis
It’s a blob of animated slime, possibly from an adventurer’s armpit.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Wand of Tesla
Crafted by the feared Wizard Tesla, this wand tingles with inconceivable power.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Mustache Spirit
Mustas Mustas
These strange, brick-shaped creatures have a Mysterious Growing Moustache Attack.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Hachimaki
This headband makes it seem like a good idea to destroy common architectural materials with your bare hands.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Thrusty
Thrustus Humpus
These are Thrusties. They love to thrust; in thrust they trust, and thrust they must.

Dungeons of Dredmor

One Sparkling Glove
This glove holds magic in its palm. Yes, just the one.

If you’re like me and you found that amusing, you are going to have a whole lot of fun with this game. There is very little that Dungeons of Dredmor doesn’t try to poke a little fun at and I think they pulled it off well. I cannot argue that including random references to everything possible makes this a great game or a silly, childish one, but I can say that it’s both refreshing and interesting. Plus, you’ll get a whole lot more of it when you enter the dungeon and monsters start talking to you.

Dungeons of Dredmor Dungeons of Dredmor

If that wasn’t enough, as you might have guessed by the presence of crafting ingredients in our earlier lists, there is a crafting system in Dungeons of Dredmor. Many objects may be crafted from components found lying about the dungeon, allowing us to supplement the random finds, which may or may not be working in your favour with each play-through, with slightly less-random creations. The crafting skills that the character can have include Alchemy for creating Potions and Drinks, Smithing for creating melee Weapons and Armour, Tinkering for creating Crossbows, Traps and Bombs, and Wand Lore for creating Wands. With the addition of the Conquest of the Wizardlands expansion, a new crafting system was added, Encrusting for improving existing items rather than creating new ones, and it utilises each of the four existing crafting skills and five of their associated tools.

Dungeons of Dredmor Dungeons of Dredmor

Skills and abilities

This is probably my favourite part of Dungeons of Dredmor – creating a character and deciding what skills they will have. We are able to choose seven skills when we start a new game and these are the skills that our character will have for the duration of their life since new skills cannot be learned, and the ones chosen cannot be changed once in game. Whenever we gain an experience level, we gain a skill point, which can be used to advance one of our skills which have five to eight passive or active abilities available. The skills chosen at the start of the game will also determine starting equipment, offer stat bonuses and buffs, and can grant spells that may be used in game. See below for some examples of the fun skills we can choose and one of the abilities for each of them.

Skills Abilities
Dungeons of Dredmor

Communist
Workers Unite!

Dungeons of Dredmor

Socialised Healthcare
Glorious Socialist Health Care of Kanadian comrades closes wounds at the steady bureaucratic pace.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Mathemagic
Using the power of Mathemagic, you can multiply power, subtract hope, and cube-root the dreams of man himself. This is a strange, abstract school of magic that has a way of driving its users insane.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Curse of the Golden Ratio
The curse of the Golden ratio was first used by the great Mathemagician Xeuclid to convert the flesh of his enemies into useful, useful gold. You just have to keep poking to be sure it takes. Operates as describes – a rather profitable curse.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Archaeology
No time for love, Dr. Jones? (You’re a general rogue with a penchant for trouble.)

Dungeons of Dredmor

It Belongs In A Museum
Send an artifact to the giant, secret scary government room full of boxes, and gain experience equal to its value.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Magical Law
When crimes are committed by Wizards, only Wizards can bring them to Magical Justice.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Wright’s Irrefutable Argument
Your honour, by lack of ex post facto mens rea in extremis, sine qua non the gravamen of the plaintiff’s case plumbeus est and the plaintiff non compos mentis, I motion that one of my client’s cooldowns be reset, at random.

Of course, there are also a bunch of much more mundane sounding skills, such as Swords, Axes, Dual Wielding, Master of Arms, and Perception, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking in amusing abilities. Some abilities corresponding to the skills I just mentioned, for example, are Sword Poet, Norwegian Axenado, Not Drizzt, Walk It Off, and Eye Lasers. It’s a whole lot of fun and I could easily write a whole lot more about the different fun skill combinations we can come up with, but I’m afraid this will have to be about it for now.

Dungeons of Dredmor Dungeons of Dredmor

Buying the game

If you’re interested in finding out more about this game, check out the official site or grab a copy for $4.99 US at one of the locations below. Also, there are three expansion packs available, Realm of the Diggle Gods, You Have To Name The Expansion Pack, and Conquest of the Wizardlands. You Have To Name The Expansion Pack is for free and the other two are a couple of dollars each. For the price of this game plus the expansions, I cannot help but recommend Dungeons of Dredmor, especially since I have gotten over 25 hours of fun out of it and I would love to add heaps more to that when I get a chance.

Anyway, that’s all from me for today. I’ll probably bring back the Indie party mini-series for three more games and then, hopefully, my Monster Hunter guide will be finished well before the I’m posting the third game. Until then.

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