Title: Dead Dungeon
Developer: Alexey Roenko
Publisher: Drageus Games
Genre: Action, Platformer, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 14/06/2019
Price: £4.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title. * £3.59(-20%) Offer until: 21/07/2019 *
2D platformers have been around for decades since the days of Super Mario Bros and Sonic, and many other companies have taken a stab at their own. You may also remember the craze of the Impossible Game with its soundtrack and rage-inducing difficulty. Well, Dead Dungeon takes all the best aspects of these and makes them its own, resulting in a challenging but elite 2D platformer perfect for fans of the genre.
The aim of the game is simple; you must retrieve souls placed in the level which will open a door, allowing you to proceed onto the next. There are also collectables for you to find which you can go back and get at any time. However, carrying out these actions is not so simple.
Your little skull-faced character can only move, jump and double jump. Using these you must traverse through levels filled with spikes, saw blades and enemies to complete them. What makes the game, so challenging is that there is no tutorial. You learn as you play, the timing and height of your jumps, in particular, being key. The harder and longer you hold the jump button, the higher you go, then the softer and quicker, the shorter you will jump.
There’s a lot of skill in mastering these, having to find the right touch to jump through spike-filled gaps. Getting near the spikes is also incredibly sensitive, so you must learn how close you can get without dying. The levels also become progressively harder and give you multiple things to tackle at once, like a monster following you around the level which kills you if you come into contact with it, while also dodging spikes and flying saw blades.
Needless to say, this is not a game for the impatient or if you need to relax! For me, it’s a little too hard and not a game I could play for hours, but a game to pick up and play for a few levels before returning to it later. You go through all the emotions from determination, to frustration, to pride. Finally completing a level you have been grinding is so satisfying.
The game is incredibly visually pleasing yet keeps it simple. The square sprites are nice and clear, the foreground standing out very well against the background. You will become all too used to the spray of pixelated blood that you burst into when you die. And you will die a lot (I will not be embarrassing myself by sharing my amount of deaths!).
Despite the clean graphics, you can’t shake off the feeling of nostalgia which is emphasised by the soundtrack. The eight-bit music takes me right back to the days of playing on the Megadrive, almost hyping you up to power through the level. It’s so easy to listen to, and the tracks alternate so you’re not stuck listening to a song on repeat as you spend half an hour on the same level, which would make it ten times more frustrating. The audio effects of jumping on enemies heads, picking up collectables and heading through the door at the end are all too satisfying, the sound when you die being less so.
There is so much room for replayability with this game because each level is timed and has a leaderboard, so it is perfect for speedrunning. I’m honestly pretty gobsmacked at some of the times as they seem impossibly quick! The collectables aspect also allows you to return to levels and find them all. I will be returning to collect these once I’ve mastered the strategy of each level.
Overall, Dead Dungeon feels like a modern and updated version of a classic 2D platformer, with an old school vibe and air of nostalgia. It is perfect for fans of that genre, but for me, it was a bit more than I could handle. It did test my patience, meaning I would only play the game in short bursts. However, if you’re looking for a tough challenge, as well as excellent audio and visuals, this is the game for you!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Dead Dungeon from the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Dead-Dungeon-1572780.html.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.