Dungeonland – Review
Follow Genre: hack and slash, dungeon crawler
Developer: Critical studios
Publisher: Paradox interactive
Platform: PC

Dungeonland – Review

Site Score
Good: Original concept, Dungeon Maestro
Bad: Bugs and plenty of them
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Diablo, Torchlight, Dungeon Siege and Titan Quest. All these games have something in common. They’re all top-down perspective dungeon crawlers, all heavily based on each other (some more than others) and all very popular. Dungeonland is a game that in some ways wants to join this list of games, but in its attempt throws a nice twist in it, turning it into a whole new kind of game.



There is some story to Dungeonland but it’s extremely limited and to be honest, doesn’t really matter. Some evil mastermind called Lord Dungeon Maestro  has gotten tired of getting his ass handed to him every time by a group of heroes. He decides to build a theme park for them. Not that evil so far, right? The evil part is the fact that the theme park is one giant death trap filled with monsters and evil elaborate contraptions put there with only one single purpose: brutally make the heroes explode into a bunch of tiny pieces! Now like I said the story doesn’t really matter, which is a good thing because everything I just said is as far as I know after playing it, nowhere in the game. The only reason I know of it is because I’ve been following this game since the first information of it came out, and got bits and pieces of it over time through various sources. And I do feel a little bad about it. I feel a little intro clip when you boot up the game wouldn’t have been that much work and would have added some nice flair to the game. The lack of it doesn’t make Dungeonland a bad game, it just would have been a nice little extra.



The first part where Dungeonland tries to stand out from your other typical dungeon crawlers is the graphics. If I had to describe them in one word, that word would be silly, very very silly. From the big nose and matching mustache of Lord Dungeon Maestro, to the chubby mages wobbling around on their stubby legs. From the bonkers level design to the various different monsters, most of which will make you laugh or go “what the hell”. The entire game just screams silly, over the top fun and I love it. It feels so nice to play through one of these games and not run into your typical evil, creepy looking monsters. One of my favorites has to be the Dire Duck: a giant caveman-like looking duck wearing just some tiger skin thingy, just sits there sleeping, but when you wake it up walks towards you and starts spinning around with its arms stretched, beating the living crap out of you.

Over to the technical side and on this end there are one or two minor issues. The game doesn’t require you to have the newest, top of the line gaming rig to run it. I ran it on a now 2 year old gaming laptop and at times I ran the game on ultra without any problems and it looked great. Sometimes however I had to set the game too the lowest settings and was still running at 10-15 frames per second. I will say that the guys at critical studio, the developers of Dungeonland, have done some good work sorting out these bugs and the game has gotten better with recent patches. However, it still bothers me though that this seems to be yet another game in the trend of “let’s just ship a game and fix it with patches once it’s out.” I can get one or two bugs not getting picked up in testing, but his game had a pretty decent béta period and as you’ll read later on in the review, the way this game shipped is just straight up unacceptable.



Dungeonland is a nice sounding game for sure. The skills have satisfying sounds when you use them, the monsters have some nice and silly sound effects to match their look and the music is nice and whimsical. The voice acting on your heroes is funny, but in the middle of all the action and killing it tends to get lost sometimes. The voice acting of the Dungeon master however is something else, basically a level above all the rest. The writing for him is funny, witty, and at times just made me stop doing what I was doing just to ask my friend if he really just said what I think he said, which after his confirmation was always followed by laughter. The Dungeon Maestro narrating your trip through the Dungeonland is really the cherry on top.

Dungeonland_Concept Art - Dragon


The gameplay part then. Now, I mentioned in the graphics section that the game has some serious issues but I’m going to leave those for the second part of the review. It’s not that they aren’t that important, but I’m afraid that if I talk about those first it might taint your view of the rest of the gameplay section and that would be a real shame. Like I said in the intro, Dungeonland is a dungeon crawler and on top of that it’s also a hack and slash. The game has two game modes, one being the adventure mode and the other being the Dungeon Maestro mode. The entire game can be played co-op and I’ll be honest that’s the way you’ll want to play it. The game works fine alone and the bots do a decent job but it is just so much more fun with some friends.

The adventure mode is your classic mode which has you crawling through one of the three dungeons of the game with two other players trying to make it to the end. Each dungeon is made out of three parts: two standard floors with a special end event on each floor and a boss encounter, each of them is very different but sadly not always very challenging. You’ve got three classes to choose from: the rogue, the mage or the warrior and each of these has three sub-classes two of which you can unlock. Each of them has their own class skill and the type of weapon they use, which is determined by the sub class, gives you another active skill. Each character also gets characters specific potions with a wide range of effects and 3 character specific perks next to the standard perks that can be used on each character. Each character has two perk slots, an offensive one and a defensive one. You also have the ability to buy new outfits for each character but these are purely cosmetic and kinda expensive so you might want to get a few perks first before you start getting into those. Now that all sounds very elaborate but in reality it feels a little bit limited. I felt like I didn’t have to play that long to unlock a decent amount of the perks and nearly all of the classes. While the game is really fun to play, I’m not sure that the limited system of character development, that’s there at the moment, is going to be enough to keep you coming back the way other multi-player games tend to do.

Control-wise the game works great offering both controller, keyboard and mouse support.  The game lets you completely rebind the keys on both of them and they play just fine. You can even play the game with three people locally but I will admit that this is not the greatest way to play Dungeonland. For some reason the developers decided that if you move far enough away from each other the camera is just going to sit in between you two with neither of you two being on screen instead of just following one person or, like quite a few modern games do, switch to split-screen. Adventure mode has 3 difficulty setting, hard, harder and impossible and those names aren’t lying, trust me. On top of that you can add up to three challenges to further increase the difficulty.

The second mode is where Dungeonland gets interesting. The Dungeon Maestro mode adds a fourth player to the game who takes up the role of, as you probably guessed from the name, the Lord Dungeon Maestro! Now this is where Dungeonland shines and really becomes a game that stands out. The Dungeon Maestro mode basically lets you be a table-top style dungeon master, letting you spawn monsters, set traps and at the end of the dungeon, take control of a big stompy boss monster. You choose the traps, skill and monsters you want at the start of the game, you get to choose from 7 different boss monsters, decent amount of skills and all monsters from adventure mode. During the game you draw cards all of which have a mana cost, you play them as you please until you run out of mana or cards and have to wait for them to recharge. Now let me tell you, this is by far the most fun you’ll have in this game. This may make me sound like a bit of an asshole but there’s nothing more fun than being Dungeon Maestro for three of your friends, be a complete asshole to them, hear them swear when you kill them over and over, only to spam your evil laugh button to further increase their growing rage towards you. Yeah that really did make me sound like an asshole, but trust me, it really is that fun.

So that’s how Dungeonland plays, which bring me to the part of this review I wish I didn’t have to write, since it will make me bash on a game I really like and enjoyed playing a lot. Earlier in the game I made the statement that the state in which this game shipped was unacceptable. Now that’s a pretty heavy statement, but one I stick by. The reason for this is that Dungeonland has bugs, a lot of them, game breaking ones. I lost count of how many times me or one of my friends just had the game crash to our desktops and giving us an error message. On several occasions at the same point in the game we had our life counter go from four to none, after only one of us died. After one of the end level challenge areas, all of our screens were filled with some sort of green textures and we were forced to just restart the level. This happened to me more than once. I’ve had players just randomly loose their connection and not get replaced by a bot. I’ve also had bots not leave when a new player joined, resulting in five characters on the screen. Now, the developer knows about these problems and is working on them, some of them have already been fixed even, but that’s not the point. Like I said these bugs are completely game breaking, the fact that a game ships in this state is just not acceptable and it’s a nasty trend in gaming that needs to be stopped.



So yeah, there you have it. Dungeonland, a game that looks great, sounds great and plays great. A game that might not do everything right, but that dares to be different. A game that on all accounts should be great and something I would advise you to buy without a single doubt. But despite all of that, a game so riddled with bugs, I just can’t bring myself to recommend this game to anyone at this point. A game that makes me say, maybe wait and see what the patching solves. And on that bombshell, I end this review, until next time.






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