Desktop Dungeons: Rewind – Review
Follow Genre: Dungeon crawler, roguelite, puzzle game
Developer QCF Design
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind – Review

Site Score
Good: Fast-paced, pint-sized dungeon crawlign gameplay
Bad: Generic and forgettable soundscape
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Last month, we reported that owners of the original Desktop Dungeons would be getting Desktop Dungeons: Rewind for free, and that the original would subsequently receive a major price drop in anticipation of the Rewind‘s release. This allowed you to pick up both games for a mere €3.50, provided you were willing to blind-buy Rewind. If you’re reading this, chances are you missed out on this window of opportunity. That’s a shame, but we’re here to convince you that Rewind is worth even the full €20 asking price. Read on if you want to know why.


When you start your adventure in Rewind, your first task is to give your Kingdom a name. Rewind is rather light on story, with the narrative mainly focusing on building said Kingdom. The game opens with an ambush on a caravan that you, the player, just happen to be a part of. In the aftermath of the ambush, you rally the survivors around you and convince them to simply build a new settlement then and there. The prospect of a new place to live attracts all kinds of adventurers, which you’ll happily send ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶d̶o̶o̶m̶ to gather riches and resources so that your budding town becomes a better place to live for everyone. It’s a simple enough premise, so we didn’t quite expect the game’s writing to be this good. Because the premise doesn’t encumber the game itself, there is enough room to simply keep throwing jokes at the player. There are plenty of puns and meta jokes here, and the light-hearted approach works a lot better here than it did in Moons of Darsalon. We’d go as far as to say that the writing is one of Rewind’s highlights, which means a lot given how enjoyable the gameplay is.


While not the most graphically refined or impressive title, Rewind still has plenty to offer in terms of visuals. The game’s cartoon aesthetics fit with the overall atmosphere, but they do belie the game’s true nature as a fiendishly difficult dungeon crawler. We haven’t played the original so we can’t quite compare the visuals with Rewind, but the graphical overhaul is one of Rewind’s main selling points, so if you’re returning from the original you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.


If there is one aspect where Rewind falls a bit flat, it is the game’s soundscape. The music is perfectly fine, but forgettable. Sound effects are generic, and there is no voice acting present here. For what it’s worth, Rewind’s audio is perfectly serviceable but there is nothing about it that stands out.


There is a surprising amount of depth to Rewind’s tactical dungeon-crawling gameplay. The game initially gives off the impression that it is simplistic in nature, but we quickly discovered that this is one of those titles that is easy to learn but hard to master. Familiarising yourself with the core mechanics takes a few minutes thanks to an excellent tutorial, which requires you to sacrifice your very first character. Once you make it past that tutorial, the game opens up and builds on a solid foundation, offering a satisfying gameplay loop where you alternate between fast-paced, bite-sized crawls through procedurally generated dungeons and expanding your self-named Kingdom. The rewards you reap from dungeon crawling are used to improve your Kingdom, and those improvements provide you with new and better tools for dungeon crawling.

A typical dungeon crawl only takes around ten minutes, but given how unforgiving those dungeons are, this is a good thing. Had Rewind focused on multi-level dungeons that take several hours to complete, the experience wouldn’t be as enjoyable, as you’ll be dying a lot. Losing ten minutes isn’t nearly as frustrating as getting killed after a two-hour dungeon trek. Unlike the dungeons themselves, which are randomly generated, you hand-pick your character’s class and race. You’ll typically need to choose your adventurer according to the dangers you face. There’s no point in taking a wizard into a dungeon where the enemies are immune to magic, for example. This does mean that you’ll often have to rely on trial and error, which further ties into the feeling of Rewind being a difficult game, which the game itself is eager to remind you of at every opportunity. Character classes especially become important when you’re facing a boss dungeon, with a boss always appearing as a high-level enemy, which has specific weaknesses you’ll need to figure out and exploit.

The inherent difficulty is a good thing, because although you’ll die plenty of times, Rewind never feels unfair. You’ll always understand why you died, simply because the core gameplay experience is so streamlined to understand. In essence, you’re simply pointing and clicking: there is no need to have quick reflexes or master difficult combos. All you need are your own wits, the right character loadout, and a bit of luck with the dungeon layout. Granted, that last one is one aspect where Rewind does fail occasionally, as a dungeon can really feel like it’s stacked against you, or it can even end up being a dead end. Fortunately, dungeon crawls are so short that you can simply give it another try in case you run into a “bad” dungeon. We should also mention that the ‘rewind’ in the title doesn’t just refer to the fact that this is a remaster of the previous Desktop Dungeons. The game includes an actual rewind feature, which is seamlessly integrated and gives you a single additional shot at a dungeon should you make a mistake.

The city-building aspect involves less death, but otherwise retains the accessibility that makes dungeon crawling so enjoyable. As you clear the surroundings of your budding town, you’ll find new buildings on the outskirts, which you can then spend gold on to upgrade them. Upgraded buildings provide additional character classes, better gear, and new allies. More mechanics are gradually introduced, both inside dungeons and as you rise in the ranks of sovereignty, but Rewind never feels overwhelming.

We initially expected Rewind to be a fairly short title, and were pleasantly surprised by just how content-packed the game is, especially for the asking price. Apart from the main game, there is a daily dungeon that incentivizes you to return to Rewind for a short burst of gameplay every day. There are also a handful of so-called puzzle levels, which aren’t randomly generated but challenge you with playing the game in a specific way. These typically are more difficult than the normal dungeons, but they are satisfying to complete. They are completely optional too, in case you aren’t a glutton for punishment. The majority of Rewind‘s campaign is simply remastered from the original, but there is some new content here, including those aforementioned puzzles and dailies. Combined with the relatively low price of entry and addictive gameplay, this is a game we recommend double dipping for, even if you missed out on Rewind’s “free” window.


Fast-paced, content-packed, and addictive, Desktop Dungeons: Rewind turned out to be an incredibly pleasant surprise. The high degree of accessibility will hook you in and the fiendishly difficult gameplay will keep you engaged and returning for more. The only nitpicks we have are that the game’s audio is a tad underwhelming and that sometimes you’ll run into a randomly generated dungeon that feels stacked against you. Don’t let that deter you from giving Rewind a shot, however, as this is truly a gem hiding in plain sight.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Desktop Dungeons: Rewind - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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