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Impressions: Dungeons of Dredmor

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Bloody typical. I’ve only just kicked my Realm of the Mad God habit, and then another permadeath RPG comes along and imprisons my mind with compulsion, combat and crits. Dungeons of Dredmor, released yesterday, is far closer to the traditional roguelike model, though it’s left behind the complicated controls and key combinations of the genre’s steelier-eyed denizens in favour of something altogether more accessible. But no less punishing.

I’m not quite far enough in to be WITable as yet, which is a really just a cowardly way of saying I’ve been dying over and over again and I won’t feel ready to write at length about it until I feel like I’ve achieved something remotely honourable.

You can sort-of disable permadeath, which entails asking the game to let you load old saves, but while that’s a route to achieving more I know full well I’d only feel like I was cheating. The thrill of a good roguelike is narrowly avoiding death and, when death comes, going out in spectacular/pathetic fashion. So, for me Dredmor is a game about dying – that’s something I’m more than comfortable with, it’s just that I’m dying very quickly at the moment.

Part of that is, I suspect, because I’m trying to do to much. There’s a huge skill tree in there, massively customisable in order to create your own bespoke class, as well the inevitable megaton of loot. There’s also crafting and teleporting and traps and stealing and sneaking and… well, pretty much every RPG feature you care to name, bar talking to the monsters. So I’m getting a bit too distracted by trying to build a new mace or working out how to summon a moustache golem than I am on simply surviving. Which has the added pain of meaning that when I die, I lose a ton of cool stuff I’ve built an unlocked. Sigh.

It looks and sounds pretty good to me, with the exception of its interface not scaling up to 1920×1200 and presumably other high resolutions very well – skill and item toolbars and the like are absurdly tiny and fiddly all the way down there at the bottom, while moving items between your inventory and your paperdoll needs iTweezers. Patch, please. The general interface leaves a little to be desired too, with a bit too much dragging between different menu screens and a crafting system perhaps generously described as like being flicked repeatedly on the nose.

But! I’m enjoying it, I’m constantly being drawn back to it and I’ve got a strong suspicion there’s an awful lot I haven’t even seen yet. Once I’m more accustomed to its ways, I’m fully expecting to have a grand old time with it. More very soon. Meantime, grab it for an asburdly low price from from its current sole retail home of Steam.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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