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28 June, 2014

Devious Dungeon Review

Nostalgia purely for its own sake is an empty experience. The knowing smile and fond memories brought about by 8-bit stylised graphics are short lived if there is nothing to back them up. This visual bait - used to lure gamers of a certain vintage - is in no short supply on the App Store. But after that nostalgic afterglow fades, a game’s long term credibility and success will come from tried and tested building blocks - quality gameplay, solid controls, rewarding progression and a sense of being challenged, but not frustrated. Devious Dungeon ticks all of these boxes.

Devious Dungeon’s 8-bit aesthetic is nothing new to fans of Ravenous Games' gameography. From its League of Evil series, to Random Heroes, the developer has been honing its 2D action platforming chops on iOS for years. Adding light RPG mechanics and a medieval setting to Ravenous’ tight control scheme and penchant for retro visuals makes for a great gaming experience.

The RPG levelling and stats are light indeed and really just take care of themselves. You’ll collect coins by looting and slaying, and gradually unlock the next available piece of weaponry, armour, rings and amulets. So it’s more about earning enough coins to simply level-up your gear, than it is about agonising over weapon and armour sets with varying attributes to create your optimal load-out. The system makes for a clean, simple RPG experience that puts the focus on fun action platforming.

And there is plenty of that.

Each level has you searching for a key that allows access through a portal to the next level. Beating every third level acts as a checkpoint to which you will return if you die, with awesome boss fights on every thirteenth level. There are five bosses in total, so there is no shortage of gameplay. The beautiful thing - and what keeps it all interesting - is that every level is randomly generated, so that even if you die and start back at a checkpoint, it will be completely new trying again, so boredom never sets in.

Enemies are in plentiful supply, too - evil wizards, pesky red slugs, orcs swinging pointy blades, giant rats, orcs swinging pointy blades riding giant rats, and much more. A classic gameplay trope of these 2D action platformers - which Devious Dungeon employs - is learning the attack patterns of the enemies and bosses, and then feeling like quite the competent adventurer ploughing your way through them taking barely a scratch.

It's not without room for improvement. For example, I'd love Ravenous to add character classes like a trusty mage. But if you like the sound of old-school graphics mixed with smooth, modern animation and satisfying progression spiced with light RPG adventuring and looting, then Devious Dungeon is an easy recommendation.

Grab the game here.

Garry Balogh

   - League of Evil 
   - League of Evil 2
   - League of Evil 3
   - Random Heroes
   - Random Heroes 2
   - Devious Dungeon

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