Indie Games That Don’t Suck: Desktop Dungeons
Rogue Legacy not enough like Rogue for you? This game should scratch that itch.
Desktop Dungeons is a free 2010 roguelike by QCF design (to date their only game). What makes it unique is that you have a quick game with a single floor on a single screen, and the enemies don’t chase after you. Sounds easy by roguelike standards? Not really.
In this case, you start at level one yet monsters levels one through ten inhabit the dungeon; you must only attack those within your capabilities or risk a quick death. Slowly work your way up and cautiously get strong enough to defeat the overpowered level 10 boss. The strategy in Desktop Dungeons comes from the player’s knowledge of their character’s many mechanics, the abilities of the opponents (they are almost always stronger than you), and when to search.
You recover health by exploring new areas in the small map, but the amount is limited and enemies heal when you do. This means that Desktop Dungeons does away with the beloved roguelike trope of running around in circles to heal oneself, but it also introduces a new way of looking at things. Do you run around to heal and hope you regain enough mana to BURNDAYRAZ the enemy to death, or should you use a potion to brute force your way through, or might you abandon the half-finished fight to look for better options?
There are plenty of race/class combinations as well as a few unique races and levels that can be unlocked. Naturally (as with many roguelikes) there is a wiki that can spoil everything for you, but the most fun comes from delving through the game on your own until you can master it.
According to the starting screen Derek Yu (of Spelunky fame) created the default tileset, and it is functional. Desktop Dungeons is in alpha right now, but you can pre-order and get in on the beta for $10 here. It’s been in development for two years, so I have no idea when it will be finished, but I look forward to its completion.
Desktop Dungeons is a great quick little coffee break game that is definitely smarter than the likes of Solitaire or whatever junk came with Windows. Play it whether you’re new to roguelikes or a battle-scarred veteran. It’s something different, and something memorable.