Developer: Woblyware / Ravenous Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Release Date: 30 March 2018
Price: $7.88 / £7.99
Reviewed by Phil Myth
Rogue likes seem to have found a pretty comfortable home on Switch, and the system's pick up and play nature lends itself well to games that will happily let you charge through them for 20 minutes or so, before putting them down and returning at a later date. Devious Dungeon is a title looking to take a slice of that particular pie.
One True Hero
The plot, such that there is, is fairly simple. An ancient evil has awoken in the catacombs under Hilltop Castle, and the King has called upon a true hero to save the day. Fortunately, you happen to be said hero (otherwise this would be a very dull game), and you set off to slay what ever beasties lie in wait.
The controls are simple as you like, with one button to attack and another to jump. As you progress through the dungeon, you'll be swinging hammers, maces, and swords at the various ghouls and goblins in your path. In between mashing the attack button, some basic platforming is required too. It's not particularly taxing stuff, but everything works well enough to keep you soldiering on.
Each area you enter tasks you with finding a key to unlock a portal, which will allow you to progress to the next level. Besides the overall "get to the bottom and slay the dragon" objective, there's also smaller challenges the game will set you. These will range from slaying a set number of a particular enemy, to smashing up X number of chests or vases. It gives you something to look out for as you're going, but by and large you'll accomplish these in the normal course of gameplay. There's no need to go out of your way to achieve them.
Baddies. Baddies Everywhere
As you delve deeper into the catacombs, you'll come across a pretty impressive variety of enemies. Bow-equipped skeletons will launch arrows at you from afar, green goblins will try and hack you down, and bizarre floating eyeball monsters will shoot balls of energy at you. For a fairly basic game, I was happy to be constantly confronted with new foes as I progressed. Although combat never gets more complicated than mashing the A button, adapting to the various attack patterns the dungeon-dwellers throw at you keeps things interesting.
Similarly, the boss battles at the end of each section make for some pretty sweet set pieces. They're very much old-school style encounters, and will see you leaping around avoiding everything from giant swords to fireballs, waiting for your opening to unleash some fury of your own. One or two posed a real challenge, and sent me away to replay a few levels to earn some better gear.
As you slay baddies and smash up the furniture, you'll be awarded with coins that you can spend back in the throne room where you'll be sent when you eventually bite the dust. Here you'll find Olaf's Emporium, and the bearded salesmen will give the opportunity to purchase better weapons and armour, as well as some stat boosting jewellery and potions, to help you progress a little further next time through.
Once again, there's no real thought that needs to go into this, upgrading your clobber and your means of clobbering fairly evenly will see you progress easily enough. Still, it was always fun to throw some new garments on my hero and set about breaking monster skulls with some new weaponry.
The weapons themselves do have some stats, and although the increased damage better weapons will give you is crucial, the speed difference is all but cancelled out by how quickly you can mash the attack button. Your stats are also increased by levelling up, as you'll gain experience for each ghoul you dispatch as you traverse the various levels.
This being a procedurally generated title, every room you enter is completely different. Not just in layout either, but there's a, once again impressive, array of scenery, locales and dangers on show. Despite the rudimentary action, the setting and enemy variety made every foray into the dungeons entertaining, always throwing up different challenges.
On the downside, once you've defeated the final boss there's not a great deal of incentive to go back into the game. You can unlock every weapon and outfit by the end of your first playthrough, and the rings you can buy don't offer the same cool factor to drag you back in. Also, despite Devious Dungeon beginning life as a tablet/smartphone game, touchscreen controls are absent. As you've got to go into the pause menu to see what your new secondary objectives are every time you complete one, this is a curious but mildly frustrating omission.
Devious Dungeon doesn't do a whole lot, but what it does do, it does very well. The procedurally generated stages, and impressive array of monsters to slay, make each dive into the catacombs an entertaining trip. The gameplay is basic but satisfying, and as you make it to deeper and deeper levels on each excursion, your determination to reach the end only grows. That said, once you reach the bottom there's very little to bring you back for a glory run.
Pros & Cons
+ Satisfying gameplay loop
+ Plenty of enemy variety
+ Tough bosses
- Lack of touch controls
- Little replay value