By André Eriksson 16.02.2017
Bit Dungeon+ delivers what it says on the box: an old-school styled roguelike dungeon crawler experience. The game is all about playing on the most nostalgic-created parts of the genre, but will that wave of nostalgia be enough to keep it an interesting roguelike dungeon crawler in this day and age, when the market is already overflooding with similar titles?
Bit Dungeon+ takes players back to an age when gaming was a lot simpler, yet far more unforgiving. With simple graphics and very simple dungeon crawler mechanics, it almost feels like using a time machine to go back to the old days when The Legend of Zelda was just released, but players then figure out that, save for those genre-defining masterpieces, gaming is actually far better today...
At first, Bit Dungeon+ seems like a great dungeon crawler. When starting off and digging through the first layers of the dungeon, the old-school art style mixed with a progression system that evokes classic RPGs feels like a fresh breath of fresh air in the genre. It does have some problems that start to feel hard in later levels, though, even during the first playthrough.
Instead of the progression system most commonly used in modern games, where newly found goodies are put on top of what the character currently has, a more gear-like approach is taken. This does at first sound good, and like a logical way to progress as it has worked for years. That is until the player mid-run faces the point where no dropped gear is actually upgrading them, which means that they can go through several levels without receiving any significant upgrades.
To add to the mess, the upgrades in question are straight-up boring. Most of them are just pure attack or defence buffs, and the more "interesting" ones involve life drain or movement increases. This removes one of, if not the most, appealing aspects with these games—that each playthrough feels different and entertaining.
The saving grace is that there is multiplayer. The gear progression system makes a lot more sense here, as even if one player is greedier than Scrooge McDuck, the other player will still have some leftovers to eat. Sadly, Bit Dungeon+ feels like a game that really tries to capture the essence of the genre without capturing what is fun about it.
Old-school roguelikes played to a high degree on the element of surprise to deliver replay value, whereas modern roguelikes play on the feeling of the extreme and spectacular builds to take down overwhelming foes. Bit Dungeon+ does neither, but purely aims at creating a feeling of nostalgia. The result is weak gameplay that makes the game last for a couple of runs—maybe 10-20 runs if playing with entertaining company.
Bit Dungeon+ is a dungeon crawler playing on nostalgia to a fault. It has completely neglected the modern touches to the genre that gave birth to its renaissance. Each run feels painfully similar, and towards the end it is possible to run several levels without receiving any upgrades at all. Thankfully, it has multiplayer, which can be entertaining in the right company. That is not enough to make it more than just another dungeon crawler, though.