February 6, 2023

Die Nite

Are people who control the game

Many moons ago, otherwise known as back in 2015, developer Wonderland Kazakiri released a game...

Many moons ago, otherwise known as back in 2015, developer Wonderland Kazakiri released a game called BlockQuest. It was an isometric dungeon crawler RPG that used the voxel graphical style and grid-based movement system of Crossy Road, and as odd of a mashup as that might sound it was a phenomenally great game. Well a year or two later and the developers released a spin-off titled Dungeon of Gravestone that was a more roguelike spin on their previous game. A couple of years later they returned to BlockQuest with a “make and share your own dungeons” sequel in a similar vein to something like Mario Maker titled, appropriately, BlockQuest Maker.

That was about the last I heard from Wonderland Kazakiri until this week when they released the almost confusingly titled Dungeon and Gravestone. Dungeon OF Gravestone? Dungeon AND Gravestone? What the heck is going on here? Well it turns out it’s nothing too crazy, and this latest iteration is just more or less a revamped and updated take on the original Dungeon of Gravestone. It actually launched on PC and consoles just shy of a year ago, and now it’s made its way to iOS and Android devices. And just like previous games from this developer, this is a very, very good dungeon crawler.

I wasted a lot of time just explaining all that, but you know what? That’s OK because I don’t have a lot to expand on about Dungeon and Gravestone. That’s because the game is purposefully obtuse, and wants you to figure out all its little tricks and secrets on your own. But for fans of this genre, the basics are all easy to grasp. You’ll start out in a hub town where you can buy weapons, accept missions from a mission board, talk to NPCs, and more. When you feel good to go you can head into the dungeon itself, which is randomly generated every time.

Despite that random generation, there’s still quite a bit of puzzling to do while you’re hacking and slashing and looting. Things like figuring out how to trigger a lever or finding a key for a door or working out a system of portals. Nothing too brain-busting but still far more interesting than the generic rooms connected with hallways filled with enemy fodder like many other randomly generated dungeon crawlers. The core of the game is really more roguelite, as every so often you’ll have the option to head back to town with all your goodies in tow or to continue on in search of greater rewards but at the risk of losing it all should you die.

You will die, too. A lot. But it’s OK, because everyone dies. The proof is in the gravestones littered throughout the dungeon each time you play, many of which have a special message left on them from another real player somewhere else in the world. When you die you too can leave a little message for someone else to find. It’s a pretty cool touch. The other thing to be aware of is the blood meter, which is really just an alternate version of the hunger mechanic from other roguelikes. Your blood meter is constantly draining so you’ll need to be mindful of that, and if either it or your health are completely depleted it’ll be game over for you. I mention it only because some people really hate that mechanic and I think you should know it exists, but personally I rather like the tension it creates.

Oh look, I ended up expanding on Dungeon and Gravestone quite a bit after all. Well, that’s because I just can’t stop playing it and that makes it easy to blather on about, I guess. This is a really good dungeon crawler that does quite a few unique things in a genre that is not short on options. It has some quirks and rough edges, but overall I think this will satisfy fans of dungeon crawlers. Oh, and did I mention it’s five bucks with no IAP? Because that’s another thing you don’t see all that often anymore, a premium dungeon crawler. So if this sounds like your type of thing, pony up the fiver for Dungeon and Gravestone as I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.