Dungeons of Dredmor, a new PC game released by the indie studio Gaslamp Games, is a Roguelike.
Okay! So what is a Roguelike? A Roguelike is a sort of game that makes people who can only grow a beard on their neck wax poetically about how gaming has devolved since the 80’s and they remember when things were complex and interesting and not all consolified like absolutely all games are now which is why they suck. More specifically, it’s a form of turn-based adventure/RPG. You walk around a map, you thwack monsters with things, you get items, and you gain power as you go via experience points doled out for a variety of reasons.
More importantly, though: you die. You die so often that it quickly becomes a game not about vanquishing monsters, but about considering exactly how paranoid you should be and whether you can make it to the second floor this time without stepping on a trap (stupid stupid I’ll never make that mistake again) or forgetting that your own flame spells can hurt you (just need to be patient next time) or wandering into a new room that is chock full of monsters with your HP at half and your Mana at bupkis (I can’t keep betting that the next room will be empty!). I have made 12 characters so far. None have lived to see the second level of the dungeon.
A good Roguelike will put you through your paces without mercy, and Dungeons of Dredmor is a good Roguelike. So why is it any better than the next Roguelike, most of which are free?
Well, this is what the extremely popular Nethack looks like:
Here is what Dungeons of Dredmor looks like:
It isn’t exactly pretty, but for goodness sake it is at least making a goddamn effort. That says to me that the developer is actually attempting to create an entertaining game to be enjoyed by others rather than shoving more and more statistics into an already bloated pile of ASCII characters. Dredmor retains the gleefully horrific difficulty and unnecessarily deep skill/crafting/etc systems that endear people to Roguelikes, while being accessible to a wider audience. If you are at all into adventuring, RPGs, or puzzles, you owe it to yourself to give this a shot.