Drawngeon: Dungeons of Ink and Paper – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, dungeon crawler
Developer: DarkDes Labs
Publisher: DarkDes Labs
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Drawngeon: Dungeons of Ink and Paper – Review

Site Score
Good: The background sound isn't bad, The basics of the game could be used well
Bad: Poor design in gameplay and communication.
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)

A lot of indie games have seen the light on the Switch the last few years, arguably perhaps too many. It became a weird combination of big game titles that include Mario and friends, with on the other side a lot of smaller games that seem like experimental projects or mobile games that are directly ported. Drawngeon: Dungeons of Ink and Paper doesn’t seem to be a mobile game previously, but it does have some of that allure as well. Previously released on Steam, it’s now also here for the Switch.


Drawngeon doesn’t have much to tell, which is one of its major flaws. Despite it not having an introductory story or something alike, it seems awfully content with just letting the player run around like a dog without a chain. Quest givers and such have minimal information for you, just like the environment doesn’t seem interested in really telling much of a story except for some signs saying stuff like ”It’s dangerous here!”, which seems to be information placed just to place some information. The game really lacks a tutorial of sorts for using certain items and just isn’t very user-friendly at all.


Drawngeon has, like the name suggests, hand-drawn graphics that are brought to life. Perhaps brought to life is a bit of an exaggeration. Instead of actually having animated sprites, the game uses (very few also) still images that move square spaces in four directions, and some different states of images (normal tree or cut-down tree and such). It feels like the graphics are a bit lazy despite that the game is partially 3D with 2D drawings which require some effort. It just lacks passion when looking at the effort put in, whether these were conscious design choices or not. This seems to be enhanced by some unlockable ”extras” that show the original papers with drawings on them, which literally seems like somebody snapped some doodles to send them to a few friends as he put in an hour of work.


The sound is alright and packs some atmospheric background noise that makes you feel slightly uneasy. That being said, that’s about it. It has a few sound effects but nothing else seems really worth mentioning it. It’s much like the graphics and the gameplay, without a real soul.


There is some appeal to a dungeon crawler like Drawngeon. It’s not the first game with these types of mechanics (Legend of Grimrock) though, where it seems to be some throwback to the era of the 90s which was still bridging the gap between full freedom of movement and text-based adventures. It’s also not the first game to use drawn graphics to create an artisan atmosphere, where the game Paper Sorcerer did it as well with similar gameplay even. But where such a game has the gameplay all figured out, Drawngeon seems to be lacking just like with its graphics.

In many ways, Drawngeon feels like an experiment that might turn out to be worse on the Switch than on your PC even. Immediately the controls are a bother. It’s a weird mix between touching the screen and using buttons all over the place that just doesn’t feel right and continues to not feel right through the game. In Drawngeon, you don’t get the classic RPG layout where you have a full set of armor and rings and inventory filled with weapons. Instead, it gives you very limited space in your inventory and 3 slots where you can equip two held items and one piece of armor. Note that you can, later on, upgrade the inventory space and more, but that doesn’t take away that you will mostly be dropping stuff a lot of time which works, as indicated, poorly with the current controls. Later on, this changes a bit cause the game has a gimmick that allows you to eat loot to heal yourself and possibly add some of the ”food” its stats to yours. But this has to be unlocked in a skill tree that requires you to first defeat a couple of enemies. Just like a second action such as blocking attacks which seems useless anyway due to bad timing/design.

On top of that, you can’t even see what you will loot and if it’s worth making space in your bag, so the entire system becomes an infuriating process with no regard to good design. These poor design choices keep on going. The game declares itself as “random” but barely does anything with it. You start in the same town over and over since there’s no save option unless you leave the game before you die, and you have to redo what you did each and every time. The game tries to compensate this by awarding you points for your playthrough that you can use on a new start to buy i.e. a different weapon, but the limited inventory space instantly bites this concept in the butt. When fighting, there’s poor AI and often no way to gain an advantage in melee combat, not even mentioning that the “quests” given by villagers are insulting the player’s intelligence and have the level of a mobile game’s tutorial. The list goes on with the lack of hit indicators in combat and just overall poor communication towards the player. It feels like a project to bring some scribbles to life without actually knowing much about game design, and the latter just destroys the experience.


Drawngeon is a fun project that turned out to be poor by lack of ambition or proper game design. Other, similar games have done it a lot better and the overall experience is heavily disturbed by lack of better design and communication. It’s a chaotic piece that doesn’t have enough variation or gameplay to be an enjoyable randomized game, and too little story or progress to give you a good reason to keep on playing.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Drawngeon: Dungeons of Ink and Paper - Review, 5.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for 3rd-strike.com since 2017.

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