I’m not really a huge fan of roguelike dungeon crawlers, I certainly get their appeal, but traipsing around dank dungeons being attacked left-right-and-centre by lord knows what, just isn’t my cup of tea. But then I was introduced to a little game called Dungelot: Shattered Lands, and while I haven’t played the previous games, I instantly fell in love with its simplistic yet challenging design.

In a nutshell, Dungelot: Shattered Lands is a room-based dungeon crawler with roguelike elements as well as a dash of Minesweeper. Players choose their hero then enter a series of dungeons. But rather than walking around these dungeons, the players’ hero stays stationary, while you choose various different blocks to uncover in an effort to find a key to the next room.

It’s like Minesweeper without the looming fear of death by mines. That’s not to say that you won’t die, because my God, you’ll die a lot if you’re not too careful. But rather than being forced in a path towards a dungeon dwelling foe, you can easily skirt around the problem praying that the next square you tap on is the key.

Dungelot: Shattered Lands is quite an interesting concept, actually. Rather than trudging around rooms, you carve pathways with your finger to find the hidden treasures of each room. You are initially limited to a certain number of squares you can remove, but as the room opens up, you can make multiple paths provided enemies aren’t in the way. Sometimes you can get through an entire room without taking damage if you manage to find the key before unearthing too many enemies.

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Speaking of enemies, the game has plenty, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. As a casual player I found these attributes fairly easy to overlook and just play the game, but if you’re after a more deep experience, you can certainly choose to pay attention to each monster’s skills – you’ll probably die a lot less too. Also, if you’re a total bad ass and manage to kill all of the monsters in that room, you’ll be rewarded with a chest which may contain something awesome.

This game has a lot of risk and reward to it, something you wouldn’t expect from a fairly cartoony and simplistic game. You can choose to easily breeze through room after room, but there’s a chance you may miss something. Spending an extra few minutes killing monsters may take away some life points, but it may also reward you with some high-value loot that’ll help you further in the dungeon.

Speaking of combat. Attacking enemies in Dungelot: Shattered Lands feels a lot like attacking enemies in your favourite collectible card game. Both the enemy and your hero has their own HP and attack points, like in Hearthstone, for example, if your hero has 2 attack points and 9 HP left, and you attack a Monster with 2 HP but 6 attack points, despite the fact that you’ve killed the monster, you’ll still be hit for 6. Familiar, right?

Fortunately, for times when you’re clinging onto life there are many ways you can progress without taking damage. The first is with loot that you’ve picked up, whether it’s a dagger or some sort of grenade. You can throw these out to deal damage, and you don’t take damage in return. Alternatively, your hero will often pick up Skill Scrolls which allow you to execute certain skills which you’ve unlocked during your progress through the game. These too deal damage without taking any in return, or they can also offer health.

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In addition to rooms full of monsters, as you’d probably expect there’s a number of rooms filled with rewards that’ll pop up occasionally, one being a sword in a stone which gives you coin, another is the chance to pick one of three chests to get a reward (or lose a provision), and another is a chance to rest up and purchase items from a merchant. These rooms offer perfect respite between rooms filled with monsters.

As for the Hero, the hero can be upgraded along your travels with a range of weaponry and armour, provided you’ve found it first, and allows you to take-on stronger enemies without fear of destroying all of your defence in one blow. There’s also a mansion in which you can return to using coin you’ve collected to unlock perks such as coin being valued higher, higher attack for your hero, and much more. Though the better perks obviously cost a lot more.

Dungelot: Shattered Lands offers several ways to play too, as I mentioned before, you can take your time and be more calculated in your approach, or if you’ve got only a few minutes to play, you can easily whip through a few rooms while you’re on the loo. The game saves your progress no matter where you are in a dungeon, which is a huge plus.

The game works absolutely perfect as a mobile game, however the PC version is set to launch next month, and while the PC edition of the game will largely be the same as the mobile version, I can’t help feel that it won’t quite offer the same experience. Either way, different strokes for different folks, so some may totally get a kick out of the game on PC. I myself, would probably rather stick to the mobile version.

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In terms of difficulty, I’ll admit, I’ve been stuck on various parts of the game for a long time, and while in some cases it’d just become frustrating, tedious, and boring. Repetitive play in Dungelot: Shattered Lands isn’t that at all. The game offers a lot of replayability as it reminds you how far you managed to get on your previous run, making you want to beat your last score and ultimately clear the dungeon. It’s addicting, so much so that I fell asleep with our iPad in my hand one night because I just kept having “one more go”.

If you’re looking for a simple yet deep mobile dungeon crawler then I’d dedinitely recommend Dungelot: Shattered Lands. It’s addictive, it’s chock full of content, and offers a ton of replayability.

Dungelot: Shattered Lands is available in the App Store for iPhone and iPad. It’s set to launch on Steam on February 5.

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