Review: Guild of Dungeoneering: Ice Cream Headaches Adventure Pack07 Mar 2017 2
Review: Guild of Dungeoneering: Ice Cream Headaches Adventure Pack
Released 09 Feb 2017
If you missed it first time round, we here at Pocket Tactics like Guild of Dungeoneering. We like it so much that it earned one of our (not so) fabled five-star reviews back in July 2016. Since then, Irish developer Colm Larkin and his studio, Gambrinous have been developing a name, with GoD even making an appearance in Danny O’ Dwyer’s excellent No Clip series, where the famed games journalist discusses the growing development scene in Ireland.
For the uninitiated, GoD is a dungeon crawler with rogue-like elements. Control of the character is stripped from the player; instead, you create the world with a random selection of cards each turn, which automatically guide the character in a particular direction. These cards can contain pieces of the environment to build, enemies, or treasure, and you can use these while aiming for whatever the main objective of the level might be.
Since its release, GoD has seen two expansions: Pirates Cove, and Ice Cream Headaches - which expanded upon the original game with extra characters, enemies, and items, with the latter recently making its way to iOS and Android.
Combat is turned-based; with each character holding a unique selection of cards that can be expanded on as you progress through a dungeon and equip your character. Attacks can be both magical and physical, and can be defended against with the correct colour shield. It’s not revolutionary, but it is effective, and there is a decent level of tension when you make it to the end of a dungeon to face off against the boss. Cards can be earned by defeating enemies and collecting loot, which is for the four slots in you inventory – head, body, offhand, and weapon.
The game is wrapped up in a charming visual style that is reminiscent of a hastily scribbled Dungeons & Dragons drawing you’d find in the back of a teenage student’s book. Between the visual style, the theatrical musings of the bard who narrates your victories (and failures), and the overall tone of the game - it has distinct feel that separates it from other dungeon crawlers.
This brings us to the new expansion; the… ice cream (yes) themed adventure pack brings 21 new quests, 24 new items, and 30 new enemies, many that come with a wintery/snowy feel to them. The best new enemy is the ‘commendable snowman’, who has several other forms from ‘abominable’ to ‘objectionable’, and their designs are suitably hilarious. Your motivation for taking on these brand new enemies? It’s far too warm and you need to send your minions out to find ice cream. Excellent.
Three new characters are introduced – the Yodeller, the Snowitch, and the ice Cream Monk, each come with their own traits: the Ice Cream Monk trades off not holding any weapons in either hand for an extra physical hit, while the Snowitch starts off with one point of favour.
Favour, you may have just asked, is a new mechanic added to GoH. When placing tiles, you may come across a Rune, place an enemy down on this tile, defeat that enemy, and you have earned yourself a Favour with the Fates. You can use these points to manipulate your deck, like removing the top card from either yours or your opponents hand and shuffling it back in, to burning useless cards altogether. Problem is, their implementation - while heavily focused on in the advertising for this new expansion - feels somewhat like an afterthought in the game. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do a great job of going into detail about their usage, and the random nature of how they work (besides on Snowitch) meant I didn’t pay as much attention to them as I feel Gambrinous would have liked me to. I feel that one of the few, but most glaring issues with GoH has been the lack of detail instructing new players on the game’s mechanics. Though this has never been a game breaker, I do think that an extra effort to inform the player with a better introduction to these mechanics would help out, and would compliment the easy-to-approach visual style.
The added expansion of new items is a welcome addition, as it varies up the battling system, which is still the weakest aspect of the game. By no means terrible per se it just lacks in depth. Tactical prowess extends as far as ‘use blue shield on blue attack and sometimes use red shield on red attack’ – but it fits the childlike simplicity of the presentation - like two children diving into the kitchen cupboard, using a saucepan for a helmet and a wooden spoon as a sword. With that said, the new enemies are absolute blighters for causing status alignments – particularly freeze, which makes all but one card your hand usable for that go, and seeing as victory can be earned (or lost) in the space of one round, freeze is the proverbial ‘ice cream headache’ to deal with.
The original release was released with marginal stability issues, and Ice Cream Headaches only goes to strengthen this foundation, as with over seven hours playing time, the game has yet to crash on me, and running any additional apps showed no slowdown.
This expansion feels like an attempt to address two issues: a lack of levels, and marginally thin gameplay. Gambrinous have accomplished the former and have started to fill in the (minimal) cracks for the latter. The fabulous thing about all of this extra content is that it’s an entirely free update, and whether you are a fan of some of the new features or not, nothing added breaks the original core gameplay. For anyone who is late to the party, the price of the app increases with each expansion – so you should get on board before another ten expansions are added (which I would highly approve of).