Desktop Dungeons Is All Growed Up

Tiny, pretty things. Kill 'em all!

One of the best games of last year, the 10-minute puzzle-RPG Desktop Dungeons, is getting ready to dress up in daddy’s clothes. It began life as a freeware indie gem, but now devs QCF quite understandably want to make some money from their creation (unfortunately, someone else already did). They’re taking preorders for the new, improved, embiggened, super-flash ‘full’ version. Why would you want to pay for something that’s already free? Let’s read!

Or, in my case, “let’s copy and paste from their website”:

  • No more getting stuck. That’s right. Changes to the random generation code mean that you’re far less likely to be hemmed in by high level monsters right off the bat. Yes, you might still play your way into a dead end, but the game’s a lot fairer now. At first.
    Re-balanced glyphs. No more instant conversions of WEYTWUT or IMAWAL… Wait till you see what we’ve done with PISORF, you’ll love it.
  • Gods are, well, still gods. Some of the gods needed attention, although probably not in many of the ways you’d all expect. We’ve re-balanced god boons and are working to make them more fun to mess with. They’re still just as fickle though.
  • Unlock via the Kingdom, use via the Inventory! You get to grow your Kingdom the way you want to: Really enjoy the Fighter classes? Upgrade your Adventurers Guild, buy Really Big Swords™ from the Blacksmith, convert them when they’re old and worn out! Oh right, the Inventory lets you convert items now. It’s the only way to get enough space to… Wait. That would be telling.
  • SO. MUCH. CONTENT. Sub-dungeons filled with mystery and dangerous scripted sequences! Quests that send you to far off lands! New dungeon types to explore! New monsters to get killed by! There isn’t nearly enough emphasis on how much new stuff there is… MORE EMPHASIS ON NEW STUFF!
  • Oh. And the game looks better, sounds better and is generally just more awesome. Of course, you already knew that part, right?

So you can preorder now – $10 for the standard edition, $20 for a special edition with an extra class, quests and buildings.

You may not wish to do this entirely on spec, so with that in mind the devs will be launching a limited demo this week – but it’ll only be available for the duration of E3. So check the site tomorrow and download feverishly.

In the meantime, QCF have also updated the freeware game, with various tweaks, a new dungeon type and most importantly a new class. You should definitely, definitely play it, because it’s ace.


  1. CaspianRoach says:

    It still has Meatboy in it! I wonder if Team Meat is okay with that?

  2. Zogtee says:

    Will there be a Steam version?

    • CaspianRoach says:

      link to

      Q: Is Desktop Dungeons going to be on Steam?
      A: We’re planning to get on Steam as soon as we possibly can. So, barring any horrible mishaps, yes.

      Do buy it directly from developers though if you can, that way they get all the money.

    • bwion says:

      Yeah, but the more money I give to Valve, the more likely it is they will someday release Episode 3, and thus another sign of the Apocalypse will be nigh.

      And I kind of want the world to end.

    • steviesteveo says:


      And thus the plots of Half Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead are all brought together.

  3. vexis58 says:

    If they finally fixed that bug that prevented me from loading my save data, I’m all for it. That game mesmerized me for hours, but losing all of my unlocks the next time I started it up really made me not want to play it any more. I posted the problem on their forum and checked back on their website once or twice since to see if they had a fix, but it was still the same old broken version.

    • Inph says:

      From the FAQ:

      Q: Will you fix X, Y or Z in the freeware version?
      A: No. Those things are all fixed in the full game. We had to rewrite everything anyway.

    • dislekcia says:

      That happens when you don’t extract the game from the zip-file it comes in. It happened way too often – meant players couldn’t save progress because the save data was treated as a temporary file somewhere in the depths of the OS.

      We’ve fixed that in the latest freeware version by distributing a self-extracting exe instead. Or you could unzip the version you have and life would be totally perfect.

  4. Tori says:

    “$20 for a special edition with an extra class, quests and buildings” I would except something like this from Activision, not a small indie dev. What a shame.

    • mllory says:

      Yeah, that feels a bit on the dirty side, doesn’t it.

      But considering this is frankly one my most anticipated games for the year, I might just roll with it, reluctantly supporting bussiness practices that I don’t quite agree with.

    • hellboy says:

      I guess you could just not buy it

    • Chuck84 says:

      They explicitly state that the Special Edition is the “support the devs” version, which strongly implies that the bonuses aren’t worth it. It’s just giving you an option to pay more if you like, to support an indie game.

    • Robert says:

      How do you support ‘business practices you don’t support’ if you go for the 10dollah version? Is the pricing system, or the buying that you don’t support?

      It’s like buying a CD at a concert. You pay more then in a record store, but you directly support the band with it and maybe even get an autograph on it. Will you boycot the record in the store, because there’s also an autographed version available?

    • mllory says:

      Ah, but an autograph is somewhat different that a whole bonus track on the cd for twice the price, which is what this looked like on the first glance.

      However, reading through the rest of the comments, it seems your autograph metaphor is more acurate.

    • bowl of snakes says:

      good lord, really??

  5. MaxwellKraft says:

    I’ll wait for the Steam sale and the inevitable TF2 hat.

  6. Phinor says:

    What’s this game like? Turn based or real time? I played Angband years and years ago and it was great but I really don’t know if these games are even of the same genre and if they are, how has the genre evolved.

    • Pike says:

      It’s turn-based but it’s more like a puzzle game than a roguelike. The basic gist is that you level up by killing monsters but you regenerate health by revealing tiles, so you have to trade off between exploring hidden tiles to find upgrades or saving hidden tiles to use for healing. You should definitely try the free version, it’s a really addictive game.

    • Koozer says:

      turn-based? Sold.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      It’s not turn-based any more than, say, a crossword puzzle. It’s Minesweeper crossed with a roguelike.

      There’s a map, you reveal parts of it. There are things that can kill you in the parts you reveal. The interactions you can have to try to eliminate the obstacles are much more sophisticated and varied than Minesweeper, but are still predictable in their outcome.

      It’s good fun.

  7. Quxxy says:

    My only issue is that special edition. I didn’t really enjoy DD enough to be super excited about paying double for an extra class. I mean, paying more up-front for extra content for a game is a little iffy as-is… but double? Is that extra class and sundry really worth double the price of the standard game?

    And what happens if I buy the regular edition, play for a bit, decide it’s worth it for the extra class… do I have to buy the game over?

    I can’t help but feel that the way devs should be handling this is making any “special edition” content essentially a timed-exclusive later released as DLC.

    Also, I hope they put up a permanent demo at some point. Nothing annoys me more than a promising looking game that I can’t try.

    • Schtee says:

      I thought this, so I bought the cheaper one ;)

    • Deano2099 says:

      Worth it? No. It’s just a way to throw some extra cash at the devs, and get a small bit of recognition in return. To quote their forum post:

      “This is what happens when we don’t explain the scope of the game properly: The special edition has 1 extra building that houses 1 extra class with a funny twist. The class is completely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things, there’s no quest progression tied to it and no amazing unlocks. We have 19 classes so far that we’ve spent huge amounts of time balancing and polishing, if you really feel that one more joke class is crippling, then I guess we’ve communicated it poorly. “

  8. DogHat says:

    This game actually came out of a South African gaming community I used to frequent, I’m really glad that some of the stuff the members put out is getting recognition. There is a lot of talent around there, and it would be nice if it could stay in SA and get supported, rather than get shipped overseas.

    Also: fucking Goo Blobs. The bane of the warrior class indeed.

  9. Howling Techie says:

    The point of the Special Edition is not just for one extra class and a building, it’s more of a way to pay extra to show support for the devs, and the extra stuff is like a little gift of gratitude. But it would have been nice if they put a few extra things in the special edition, even if it was just stuff like items.

    • Lambchops says:

      Great minds think alike clearly – much more succinct than my post!

    • karry says:

      “it’s more of a way to pay extra to show support for the devs”

      I wonder if its customary now, like the stupid tips you are forced to pay everywhere in USia, even if you didnt really get the extra service.

    • Robert says:

      No, it’s the internet. It’s customary to play the free version for ages, then get the full version off a torrent site because: A: You finished the free version already / B: You are angry at the special edition so you pirate it / C: Don’t need an excuse to pirate.

  10. Lambchops says:

    I don’t give a monkeys for an extra class and quests and so on. However I still went for the special edition. Wo dollars is, what, 12 quid or something along those lines. I’ve already got more play out of Desktop Dungeons than many a 30 quid title, plus along with Spelunky and Mario Kart Wii it helped keep me sane during my degree exams.

    Can’t speak for anyone else but for me I feel the game deserves an extra bit of cash going its way. Really looking forward to seeing what been cooked up for the full version, it was addictive enough without having more stuff around it designed to make it more excellent.

  11. vonkrieger says:

    I’ve already got far more than 20$ worth out of this game so it was one of those rare automatic buys for me. Mightn’t even end up downloading it when it’s released but by gum they deserve my money.

    It’s also really nice in that they let you “choose” how much to pay for it. I’m sure the game will be easily be worth 10$ to anybody while 20$ allows idiots like me to throw them some extra cash.

  12. ervler says:

    Really looking forward to this release. I’ve been following QCF and DD for ages now.

    Don’t see any issue with the devs charging for the Special Edition. None of the content is particularly game-changing, so, as they mention on their website, it comes down to whether you think the game is worthy of a little bit their eternal gratitude and whether you want to physically show your support above-and-beyond that of a regular punter for a small indie dev team that has put a lot on the line to make this game a reality… or not. No one is going to hold it against you though. I am sure they will be very happy if you just play their game.

    No worries either way. The Special Edition is totally an option for those that feel the game is uniquely appealing and want to show their respect to the devs. For everyone else that thinks this is just another game, go for the regular edition. No one is going to hold it against you. In fact, I am sure they would be over the moon that you simply care enough to play their game.

    Let’s not get too philosophical about it all. They aren’t EA after all. Just three guys trying to make games that we think are fun and enough cash to keep doing so…

    • mllory says:

      Well, if they put it this way, I’d gladly give them the extra dollars. Funny how that works, actually.
      Still, for stuff like this I actually prefer the TF2 hat model – the extra price gets you a visual trinket that does nothing indeed.

    • JFS says:

      I’m with you, I’m very glad that this finally enters the “full game” stage. I’ve been waiting for it quite a while, I especially look forward to the “build your own city” part. Oh yeah :)

      Only thing I can’t really get myself into is the new graphics. I liked the superretro old style of the freeware version. Ah well :)

    • mllory says:

      I actually really like the new look. The updated graphics are like a cherry on top of the excellent puzzle-cake. A small, stylized cherry, stuffed into a square.

  13. McDan says:

    Trademarking Really Big Swords eh? Now it really is only a matter of time until games called: Car wot goes fast and guns wot go bang and hurt people come out. What is happening to the world.

  14. pakoito says:

    Two twitts and a forum post later this gets covered xD

  15. Vagrant says:

    Am I the only one who really doesn’t like the art in this new retail version? The Derek Yu tileset in the freeware edition was much better, and those character portraits are just a little weird.

    • wu wei says:

      No, you’re not. I’ve been a big fan of the original since its release but I found the Unity-based version to be muddy and unclear in a way the Yu art just isn’t. The Kingdom mode also seems generically bland, and “fixing” the less useful spells by adding unrelated side effects just further removes the elegance I feel the freeware version has.

      Oddly, I’ll probably still end up grabbing it once it hits Steam, as I’ve more than gotten $10 value from the original.

  16. 8-bit says:

    I haven’t played the game yet but I would just like to say that its sad to hear of yet another good game getting a clone on the app store. do apple have no control to prevent people doing this, isn’t this what having a restrictive, closed platform is supposed to prevent? I am happy for the guys that the issue seems to have been resolved but apple seriously need to get their house in order.

    on the game itself, it sounds like a lot of fun and as I only heard about it the other day I will definitely be playing it as soon as I finish the witcher 2.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      There’s absolutely nothing illegal about “cloning” a game, provided you use your own artwork and code. Ideas are not protected. Mechanics are not protected unless you’ve patented them.

      Just look at “Veggie Samurai”, one of the best-known clones in the App Store.

      So while we can cheerfully call people who directly copy game concepts talentless hacks, they’re nothing worse than that.

    • 8-bit says:

      when I said clone I think you read it as being something different from what I was talking about. if you do some research you will see that these cloned games quite often outright steal the graphics/code/everything else then put it on the app store, just look at free running/Canabalt as a quick example (there are lots of others). I don’t know the full details of this case and if it was just the mechanics or the whole thing, but the fact legal action was being considered makes me think that whoever made the clone was a bit more than a talentless hack.

    • Deano2099 says:

      That’s true, and it works 95% of the time. But it’s a huge issue for games like Desktop Dungeons as the appeal of them is that the entire system is exposed. The maths of it all are right there for everyone to see, and that’s the point of the game. Hence it makes it ridiculously simple to clone. The only thing you need to put effort in to is the random level generator.

  17. DrGruu says:

    Is this as good as Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup?

    • Oddtwang of Dork says:

      Is anything?

      It’s not comparable really – as mentioned above a couple of times, it’s a puzzle game more than an RL, but IME it does tend to appeal to people who like RLs – it’s rather like DROD in that respect.
      If you like DCSS I’d recommend giving it a try – there’s plenty in the free version to work out whether you like it or not.