Devious Dungeon serves itself as an action rogue-lite platformer, one that has you taking on a range of levels as you grow your character’s powers and capabilities, before being strong and capable enough to taking on the next. This loop alone will no doubt sing to the crowd that enjoys the concept, but for me, it falls short of greatness for a number of reasons. We’ll get to that shortly. The game’s light premise is simple to digest. You’re a king serving knight that’s discovered an evil beneath the castle, and it falls to you to clear it out once and for all.
The king’s court acts as the game’s mini-hub, and it’s here in which you’ll both start your adventure and will be taken to upon each and every death that you endure. There’s some wares that you can browse and purchase through using the coins that you pick up on your travels, as well as a portal that will fire you straight back into the game’s randomly generated dungeons when you’re ready to dive back in. There’s little else to concern yourselves with here, and that’s arguably the most alluring aspect within; its straight to-the-point core loop.
Your character comes with base stats as you begin, and through a mixture of buying gear and leveling up, you’ll gradually become stronger and more resilient as a result. When you’re at the shop, you can buy melee weaponry, armor, potions, rings and amulets. Each new purchase will bump up your attributes to some degree, in one form or another. When you kill enough monsters and eventually gain a level up, you’re also given the option to spend a point to improve your stats per-new level increase, ranging; strength, stamina, and dexterity.
It’s a relatively straightforward process that doesn’t really need to be anything more than what it is. The game’s loop sees you jumping through the portal, killing a wide range of foes, nabbing treasure left, right and center, and upping your capabilities along the way; rinse and repeat until you hit the dungeon’s boss. There’s over sixty levels to overcome, spread across five different dungeon worlds. Mercifully, despite its random generation, you don’t need to start entirely from scratch should you meet your end before reaching each world’s boss.
Each world has level-checkpoints that you unlock when you make it so far through. For example, upon entering the portal for the first time, you can only select level one of the first dungeon’s world, however, if you make it to level four, you’re free to start from that point when you die and re-enter. Each dungeon world offers a total of five level-checkpoints, spread roughly three or four levels apart. The final level-checkpoint is always the dungeon world’s boss, so if you do bite the proverbial dust here, you can dive straight back in.
Each randomly generated level must be completed in the same fashion; grab a key to open the exit portal and dive on in – which will automatically take you to the next level. You can indeed simply run through each level, grab the key and make an exit, but chances are, you’ll hit a difficulty gate later on due to powerful boss encounters and tougher enemies. The intended method of play is to take your time, defeat each level’s enemies, and nab any loot that you can get your hands on. This will ultimately feed into the growth of your character.
There’s certainly a tougher difficulty curve later on in the game, but thanks to the fact that you carry over your coins upon death, more powerful weaponry and boosted stats aren’t usually too far from reach. Furthermore, there’s a continuously running quest page that will reward you with large sums of currency if you fulfill their requirements. These tend to consist of things that you’ll only be doing anyway; smash environmental objects, kill specific enemies, locate hidden chests and so forth. Again, it’s all pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff.
One aspect of the game that I want to commend the most is that of its enemy variation. Devious Dungeon packs a countless range of foes for you to overcome, many of which house their own attack patterns and movements. It’s never at all hard to suss out how (or when) and enemy will attack, but the sheer level of variation, together with its randomly generated design choice, helps to keep repetition at bay. Tougher foes will dish out more XP than the standard grunts, but they also pack a meatier damage output, making it very risk-vs-reward.
You can also locate the occasional hidden book, which will give you a very generous XP boost once picked up. These books are well hidden, to the point that I’ve only found two throughout my several hours of playtime. The same can be said about the large chests, which will give you several levels’ worth of coins if you’re fortunate enough to track one down. As alluded to above, those that thoroughly enjoy the rogue-lite format will appreciate this more than most, though that being said, Devious Dungeon does get quite a few things wrong.
The boss encounters, for instance, are very generic and don’t house the punch that bosses in games of this type tend to relay. Oftentimes, they’ll just repeat the same haphazard bombardment of attacks over and over, until one of you are left standing. That takes us to the game’s combat system – or lack thereof. There’s literally only form of melee attack. There’s no ranged attacks, no dodging, and no guarding. That means that all you can do is attack and jump, which admittedly runs dry before too long and after hours of play, becomes quite dull.
The game’s visual and audio design remain somewhat passable. There’s a nice variation as far as the game’s level diversity goes, being that it dishes out a good blend of differently themed environments, but even so, you’ll likely forget about all of it the moment that you put down the pad. It would have been nice to see just a bit more detail on this front, but when we take the price into account, it makes it a little easier to forgive. The bottom line here is that Devious Dungeon doesn’t do anything exceptional, but it does achieve what it set out to accomplish.
If you’re on the market for a simple rogue-lite that doesn’t demand too much focus and perseverance, Devious Dungeon will serve you well. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the intricacies that this type of game is usually known to adopt, you’re likely going to feel somewhat disappointed. Devious Dungeon is a passable game at best, but one that’s admittedly fun nonetheless.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.