Have You Played… DROD: Gunthro and the Epic Blunder?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

If you’ve paid any attention to my scribblings over the last few years, one of the recurrent themes you may have noticed is my hatred of puzzles games. Or rather, as I like to say, their hatred of me. But, as I’ve acknowledged in the past, wrap a strong theme or story around the puzzles and I might be fooled into paying attention, and from there I can be won over completely. The Deadly Rooms of Death [official site] series, a fantasy RPG that is actually a puzzle game, almost got me.

I played one of these games years ago, though I can’t remember which it was. They’ve appeared on Steam recently, which led me to giving them another go, starting with The Epic Blunder. I want to love it because it’s a silly, comedy fantasy game that just happens to be about tile-based puzzling, but it’s either not quite silly enough or too clever by half. I can’t tell which one it is.

They do have a cult following though, these DROD games, and I reckon there will be at least some RPS readers who haven’t played them before but will absolutely love them when they do. Me? I’m reminded of days long ago when my friend Barry completed every level of Chip’s Challenge while I was sitting in the background pretending to understand.

You can try DROD out on the official site before buying.


  1. Snowskeeper says:

    Ooh! Ooh! Do one on Chip’s Challenge!

  2. phlebas says:

    I have loved all the DROD games except DRODRPG – I’d rather die repeatedly then know I got the right solution because I’m still alive, rather than die a couple of levels later because I wasn’t quite optimal after all. The regular ones are great though – I like the sense of humour a lot and the puzzles are well pitched.

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    Waltorious says:

    It’s almost certainly too clever by half. The DROD games are really tough, but fortunately the Caravel Games site is a great place to find hints. It took me three tries before the games really clicked with me; the secret was going back to the very first game in the series and starting there. I wrote about it on my personal blog:

    link to waltorious.wordpress.com

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      Waltorious says:

      Although actually,Gunthro and the Epic Blunder is apparently designed as an easier starting point for new players…

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s definitely a great starting point as far as I’ve played. There’s also a DLC hold called Smitemastery 101 that’s intended as a teaching tool but that ramped up a little more quickly than I was comfortable with. (I’m not sure which pack that’s in – the way they bundled 2 Smitemaster’s Selections at a time is a little weird but apparently by default you’re only allowed 10 DLC per title and Steam wasn’t responding to their requests to allocate more, so it was necessary.)

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    zapatapon says:

    DROD is such an excellent series – nothing really compares to it. While I don’t care particularly strongly about the silly game plots, the strength of the puzzles is that they tell their own stories: clever, regularly introducing new mechanics and exploring them in unexpected, fresh ways. I am regularly amazed at the inventiveness of DROD puzzle designers (“architects” in DROD parlance). In the best rooms, solving puzzles feels like a dialogue with the architect, who anticipated your moves and thoughts, and alternatively mocks you with red herrings or nudges you gently towards self-improvement. In each room, you learn something… DROD is a journey.

  5. malkav11 says:

    The DROD games are some of the very finest puzzle games ever made and I absolutely would recommend them to anyone. If you’re not sure, you can get a demo of the first several levels of any of the main games at Caravel Games’ own website. The demos will also load fan-created level packs called holds and there are hundreds of those. Although each demo only has one tileset and a sliver of the overall music so it won’t be quite the intended experience a lot of the time.

  6. MajorLag says:

    Long ago I played DROD. It was a very elegant concept that really engaged my puzzle-loving brain for a time, but then it got kind of ridiculous complicated.