Delver marries the first-person simplicity of Doom and the randomness of the roguelike in such an admirably straightforward way that I’m sorry it doesn’t get more praise. I’ve championed it before as a cheap ‘n’ cheerful adventure that’ll keep you occupied for a few afternoons. It’s a forgettable game, but only because it’s so unassuming. That’s what I like about it. It sets out to do one thing: spritey, twitchy dungeon diving. And it does that without complaint or distraction.
It also looks the part. The dungeons are full of grimy, stoney hallways. Pools of sewer water run through trenches, and tree roots poke through the ceiling. Meanwhile enemy and friendly sprites are bright, pixel pals who rotate to face you at all times. There is something about the ever-watchful sprite following you around a room that just makes me feel warm inside.
If I had to demonstrate to anyone the feeling of playing first-person games in the 90s, I probably wouldn’t give them Star Wars: Dark Forces or Doom or even Marathon. I’d just give them Delver and say: “This was released in 2018.”
They’d have a better time.