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Dungeon Drafters

Developer: Manalith Studios

Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment

  • Price: $24.99
  • Release Date: Mar 14, 2024
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Last on Sale: Jun 20, 2024 [$19.99]
  • Lowest Historic Price: $19.99
  • ESRB Rating: T [Teen]
  • Watch this review on YouTube
    A smart combination of tactical combat, deckbuilding, RPG, and some roguelike elements make for some varied fun

    I know that merely by mentioning the term deckbuilding there’s a portion of the gaming audience out there that gets triggered. I’m sorry if you’re not a fan of most games with this mechanic, but it is indeed here to stay. I’d also point out that, in the case of Dungeon Drafters, we may be seeing a promising sign of how it can be used in different ways to make for new unexpected and challenging possibilities.

    The good news is that the way your deck is implemented here isn’t quite the same as usual. At its core this plays more as a tactical strategy game, with you often encountering multiple enemies in a single room and needing to take them out. You’ll have 3 moves every turn, which will allow you to get to a different position or simply rely on your cards as long as you have enough action points to use them. While it can take some time to get used to all of the cards you’ll not only start with but continue to acquire, the game is extremely helpful in both describing what they’ll do and illustrating the spots around you that they’ll affect. I’d say this feature, in particular, is a standout for me, as I can’t think of any other titles like this that have taken as much care to be this helpful and clear… and it’s a big help.

    Part of the reason the assistance is so vital is that there are 6 very different classes to choose from and over 300 cards that you’ll be able to collect in the game. There will still be a bit of trial-and-error experimentation with new cards, and sometimes this can be a problem, but I’ll give the developers credit for doing all they could to help assist with the learning curve. The challenge level will vary, depending on where your character is at and the dungeon you’ve chosen, but as long as you’re not pushing too far too fast it can generally stay under control and feels fair.

    To me there’s just something refreshingly exciting about Dungeon Drafters, as its art makes me nostalgic for the SNES days, the dungeons and enemies can make you sweat at times, and it’s just generally consistently surprising. Whether it's finding some new card that makes you giddy with excitement or the tension of getting yourself out of a tight situation, it’s reliably a game of ups and downs. Even if you’d normally reject the siren song of the deckbuilders, you may find that by making it more of a supporting mechanic than front and center it can actually work quite nicely.

    Justin Nation, Score:
    Nindie Choice! [8.2]

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