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Building dungeons block by block in Dungetris

It took me a while to realise that weird variants on dungeon-crawling are among my favourite things. Show me a dungeon that is also a pinball table, with the hero as a ball, and I’m going to sit up and take notice. Match-3 dungeons are a fine thing (though not as fine as match-3 wrestling, lord help me I can’t stop). I’d probably play a Pogs fantasy RPG.

Dungetris [Steam page] isn’t the most elegant name but it gets the point across. Dungeon crawler plus Tetris. The game emerged from Early Access a couple of days ago and I tried it, briefly, last night. It’s enjoyable, even if it does feel a little thin.If you’ve ever played a tabletop game where the dungeon is built piece by piece, with players drawing from a stack of tiles, Dungetris will be familiar. Here, as the title suggests, tiles fall from the top of the screen and you try to connect them together to make a navigable space. Some tiles have treasure, some have monsters, some have traps, and some are simply corridors and rooms that don’t contain anything at all. You’re free to move your character at any time, and that’s where I first became a bit confused. Dungetris looks like a top-down roguelike and you can move in any direction, as if it is top-down, but the dungeons are presented as towers that you’re climbing. You can see the ground and the sky, side-on, even though ‘up’ appears to be ‘north’.

And then there are spikes that look like they’re set in the floor as they would be in a platform game, and only hurt you if you stand on them at the bottom of a room. This might seem a strange thing to get hung up on, but I’m still not sure if I’m building a tower or a top-down dungeon, and neither makes complete sense. You can probably figure out what I mean if you watch the trailer.

Despite that confusion, I’ve spent a good half hour with Dungetris. Levels have different objectives, so sometimes you’re looking for a particular tile, sometimes you need to kill a specific number of monsters, and sometimes you just need to lay down a set number of rooms. I hope there’s more variety in later levels because killing spiders and bats won’t keep my attention for very long, but there’s at least the kernel of a decent coffee break game here.

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Adam Smith

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