The “strategic card-game/deck building” genre has surged in popularity in recent years, and with heavy-hitting titles like Hearthstone, Slay the Spire, and Gwent, it’s not difficult to see why. Each offers a little something different than its competition, something that makes it stand out from the rest. Right now, numerous developers are attempting to replicate the success of these AAA titles, hoping to cash in on the latest fad or add their own unique twist to the respected category. Recently, I had the opportunity to review a game that I first thought would be one of those aforementioned attempts – DungeonTop.
DungeonTop by One Up Plus Entertainment is one of the latest renditions in the strategic card-game genre and does a solid job making itself stand out from the masses. I was pleasantly surprised by DungeonTop and its particular brand of unique style and strengths, the most prominent of which are found in the:
- Customization Choices
Before I press on, I should come clean: DungeonTop is actually a Roguelite/Deck-building combo. For those of you unfamiliar, Roguelite games can pretty much be summed up by this: once you lose, you start from the very beginning. To some folks that could be a deal-breaker, however, I encourage you to keep reading to see why exactly this game is worthy of your attention. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Believing In The Heart Of The Cards
DungeonTop’s most alluring feature is found in its gameplay, but I’m a firm believer that card-games alike can be boiled down to a simple gameplay loop:
- Draw a card
- Play some cards
- End your turn
Now, before you start to gather up your torches and pitchforks, let me clarify that I know games have more complexity to that. DungeonTop differentiates itself with the addition of a board. Perhaps this mechanic is used in other titles, but with my limited experience with this brand of games, it was new and exciting.
The board adds a layer of difficulty that requires a deeper level of strategic thinking. Each turn, I had to consider where I was placing my cards and the risks involved in the placement. One wrong selection and I could end up wiping my board or unintentionally be sending my cards to their doom. In similar card games, I often used the straightforward approach and just filled my side of the field with attacking monsters in hopes it would work. However, I soon learned that in DungeonTop, that plan of action isn’t best. Each move or placement I made had weight to it and the game pulled no punches in making me sure I knew it.
Furthermore, the game has mechanics that function much like it’s AAA counterparts. Throughout the game, you collect cards and build your deck as you see fit while adjusting your playstyle to your liking. During duels, you have the stereotypical resource pool that limits the number of actions you take. Other features like a discard pile and unique combo effects are also included, which are often staple components in any card game.
It’s All About The Story
Another big part of DungeonTop’s charms stems from its story. Despite it being an early-access game, the plot of the fantasy-based campaign stays intriguing throughout. Spooky dungeons, wicked monsters, clashing swords, and vibrant spells all come together to create a riveting story in a medieval aesthetic.
Truthfully, the inclusion of such a thick plot comes as a shock. Usually, indie-game developers tend to focus more on either gameplay or plot. This can lead to one being more padded than the other, resulting in a lackluster experience. Some indie titles reach for that perfect balance, but end up with a jumbled convoluted mess that takes away from the theme of the game.
Plotlines are often the leading factor on what makes a game good. Even in the big releases, plotlines can be hit-or-miss. DungeonTop managed to strike a perfect harmony: an intriguing narrative that doesn’t take away from the gameplay, but rather adds to the gaming experience. The plot and the storybook-esque art style also go hand-in-hand. Admittedly, there is nothing fresh or new about its specific plot development, but there’s a reason the hero’s tale is considered a classic one.
The Choice(s) Are Yours
The choices and customization options in DungeonTop are abundant. In fact, the game practically ensures that each playthrough will be a different adventure than the last. With a plethora of options to choose from, you can appreciate the different ways to customize your playstyle through:
- Dungeon Pathways
And that’s just to name a few. The options seem endless and you can create builds that match your preferred way to play. Each time I bit the digital bullet and started over, my quick flash of annoyance was quickly quelled by determination and plans to improve my approach.
Customization also adds to DungeonTop’s replay value. Arguably, Roguelite games are literally meant to be replayed, but with a myriad of means and strategies, the possibilities are endless. The game also excels in catering to every playstyle, which is further evident by the many
objectives you can pursue. Whether you’re someone who likes to go for the farthest progression on the hardest difficulty or a more casual player who likes to farm loot, DungeonTop accommodates it all.
The Bad Draws
Although my words have been quite flattering for DungeonTop as a whole, I still have some gripes with the game. My main issues with the game solely revolve around details. For example, while playing in story-mode, the only method of removing cards from your deck costs one “treasure”, which are normally some of your better cards. The inclusion of this mechanic seems limiting. I felt more inclined to just deal with the extra cards in my deck, rather than get rid of two when I really mean to bin just one.
Additionally, there aren’t many methods of healing your character outside of playing cards mid-battle or encountering a random event that will do it for you, normally at the cost of yet another treasure. This led to a couple of instances where I had no means to heal myself, and starting over was necessary.
Now, I admit that both of these are entirely subjective, so please take them with a grain of salt when shaping your own opinions. It’s worth noting that these are my only issues with this game, which is no small feat for an indie title in early-access. Perhaps as I continue my dungeon-diving journey I’ll come across more problems, but for now, that covers it.
Should You Play DungeonTop? Absolutely!
Put simply, DungeonTop is a good game that’s shaping up into a great one. With enticing merits in the gameplay, plotline, and customization options, it could easily be one of my favorite indie-games to date.
If those aren’t enough to convince you, maybe knowing that the dev team consists of a husband and wife duo will. The team develops indie-games while raising a family. DungeonTop is the perfect example of passion, talent, and know-how coming together to create a spectacular result. I can safely say it is is well worth your time.
DungeonTop can be bought on Steam for PC.
Many thanks to One Up Plus Entertainment for the review code.
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