Review: Lost in The Dungeon02 Apr 2018 4
Review: Lost in The Dungeon
Released 15 Mar 2018
Oddly enough, the linear nature of Lost in The Dungeon makes it is impossible to actually get lost, even for someone with my dodgy sense of direction. The game is a straightforward dungeon crawler, with the focus on building and upgrading your set of action cards. However, simplicity does not equate to a lack of challenge. Indeed, a couple of games in and it becomes obvious that the “lost” in the title refers to the distressingly high number of times that your brave adventurer will find their life coming to a premature end.
Things do not get off to the best of starts; before you can even begin to play you are forced to create an account, this seems unnecessary and rather irksome. Next, you select one of the three available characters. Each character starts with a default deck of cards that consists of four copies of five different cards. Everyone will have the same health and antidote potions, but your character’s class will determine the rest. Warriors have action cards that focus on powerful physical attacks; mages have an array of spell cards, while rogues are partial to a bit of poisoning and subterfuge. Other cards will enhance your defensive capabilities or reduce an enemy’s defence.
Before adventuring you can visit the shop to purchase some new equipment. There are various items that will enhance your statistics, including weapons, armour and enchanted rings. You can also spend some time refining your deck of cards or simply coming up with some crazy combinations. The mage, for instance, could set off with twenty fireball spells, but with no means of improving their defence or healing wounds. As you may have guessed this would not be the wisest choice since playing a card comes at a cost. Physical actions expend stamina, whilst spells use mana. Both statistics gradually regenerate, or you can receive an immediate boost by quaffing a potion. However, it is not as straightforward as simply having a potion card in your hand. To use potions, you also need to spend gold, so do not blow all your money on travel and equipment or you will be left with useless potions!
Now is the time to embark on your first quest, a mission to rid a nearby cave of giant spiders. When you enter the dungeon, you will have to battle your way through a series of rooms before facing the final boss. Each dungeon room usually consists of three enemy cards that need to be defeated. Combat is turn-based; you will have a choice of using any of the top three cards from your deck, assuming that you have the necessary resources. Simply drag an attack card from your hand and target a monster, or you can activate cards that enhance your abilities by dragging them to the bottom left corner. If you are unhappy with your choice of cards then you can discard one, which has the added benefit of giving your defence a small boost. The final step is to watch nervously as the monsters initiate their counterattacks.
There is an interesting selection of cards, some will launch an attack against a single monster, other cards will affect all your current enemies or enemies of a single type. Some cards have both positive and negative effects; headbutt, for instance, reduces an enemy’s defence and health, but will also cause our hero to suffer some damage. The taunt card will cause your opponent to drop their defences but will also leave you slightly more exposed to attack. Defence is a characteristic that you will not want to overlook, as a negative defence makes enemy attacks hurt even more.
Earn enough experience to improve your level and you will be able to gain access to a new card. There is nothing surprising here, but pleasingly, the game does not force you to adhere to a rigid career path. If your warrior fancies branching out into a little spellcasting, there is nothing stopping them. Building a well-balanced deck of cards is crucial to success, make mistakes here and you can be doomed even before stepping into the dungeon. The key is not to be too greedy and be ready to run back to the inn as soon as things get sticky. Hardly heroic, but slowly acquiring experience, money and equipment is the only way you are going to stand a chance. Consequently, you will soon be on first name terms with monsters such as the leech and rat that lurk in the first few levels (I christened them Vlad and Basil, respectively).
Lost in the Dungeon is not a difficult game to grasp, there are not many rules and a handy reference page summarises everything you need to know. The artwork is competent, I especially liked the comic strip style cut scenes, but the look is very generic and rather soulless, especially when compared with the similarly themed Meteorfall. The game plays smoothly enough, making it simple to sell and equip items and change cards. Mercifully, after you die you can quickly return to the action within a couple of quick taps.
You will be seeing that end screen with depressing regularity as Lost in the Dungeon is a tough game, sometimes maybe unfairly so. Defeat is brutal and without any form of consolation. You lose any reward chests, experience points and the cash invested in travel and potions. It is not just the monsters, it seems that everyone is it out to make your life a misery. From the boatman who charges you an extortionate fee to ferry you between levels, to the shopkeeper who demands payment before he will restock his shop - I’m guessing that the innkeeper even charges for the complimentary bowl of peanuts at the bar.