Devious Dungeon (PlayStation 4) Review

By David Lovato 20.05.2018

Review for Devious Dungeon on PlayStation 4

Small budget titles these days tend to have a lot in common. Retro-styled, side-scrolling, platforming, roguelike, procedurally-generated levels; the list goes on. As more games like this come out, it can be difficult to differentiate between them, and from a developer's standpoint, difficult to make a title separate from the rest. Devious Dungeon, from developer Ratalaika Games, Woblyware Oy, and Ravenous Games Inc., just might find a place to shine here.

The premise behind Devious Dungeon is simple. The king charges the player character with conquering a nearby dungeon, known for killing those who enter by constantly changing and in general being full of deadly traps and monsters. Levels are procedurally-generated, but each contains a gate to the next level, which can only be unlocked by finding that level's key. Death results in the player being kicked back to the overworld, where they can buy new equipment if they have acquired the right amount of money, or return to the latest checkpoint.

Screenshot for Devious Dungeon on PlayStation 4

Devious Dungeon is a bit of a Souls-like in this regard, as well as in its combat, which is what sets it apart from its contemporaries. While the game really only consists of a few inputs on the player's part (movement, attacking, and jumping), the developer has implemented the tools they have in genius ways. Not all enemies are the same, and must be approached differently, as well as having various tells for which attacks they are about to do. A base enemy, for example, might stop to attack the player, while another might attack while charging. Gamers can get around this by moving in for a few quick swipes and then backing off, by attacking while moving and jumping (which keeps you facing in the same direction and can lead to various strategies), or by simply swinging away and hoping they have enough health to plough through the enemy's attacks.

Screenshot for Devious Dungeon on PlayStation 4

While combat and the game's sense of humour are very clever, they aren't quite enough to overshadow its flaws. The RPG elements are barebones, at best, with no real skill trees or new techniques to learn. Weapons and armour are basic, with each more expensive option being objectively better than the last, and while older equipment can still be equipped, there's really no reason to do so. The story and lore departments are also lacking, and the development team could have used some of that Dark Souls inspiration here, as there isn't much motivation to keep playing on the story side of things. It's one thing to keep playing a level or fighting the same boss time and again to, say, regain one's humanity or rescue another character, but in Devious Dungeon, you are literally only doing it because the king (who's honestly a bit of a jerk) said to do so.

Screenshot for Devious Dungeon on PlayStation 4

This leads to the game falling into the same trap as nearly all of its competition: it gets repetitive. The music, the grind, the gameplay (even as clever as it is), it all gets repetitive. It's even in the premise of the game itself: do the same level over and over until you have gained enough experience or better equipment to do another, slightly harder one. Yes, the levels are randomly generated and look different but, at their heart, it's the same thing in a new place. This is at least something but, at the same time, it takes away another fan-favourite aspect of the Soulsborne series Devious Dungeon seems so heavily influenced by, which is the ability to learn from the environment and use it to your advantage.

Screenshot for Devious Dungeon on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Devious Dungeon is a solidly built game with a downright ingenious combat system, where the developer has used the retro-styled limitations to their advantage. It struggles in the RPG department, giving players little-to-no reason to care about any of the events, and offering barebones levelling and equipment. More imagination in these areas would have made this easily one of the best games in its genre. Instead, the general repetitiveness and lack of role-playing, lore, or decent equipment or skill systems make it a run-of-the-mill roguelike that happens to have an absurdly clever combat system. In the end, though, it's easily worth its price, and definitely worth keeping an eye on the people involved to see if they can improve upon its format in the future.

Developer

Ratalaika Games

Publisher

Ratalaika Games

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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