“MMO of levity +4”
Initially, spying the yellow exclamation mark over the head of a quest-giver in the ultra-simplistic starting area, I thought: “This is World Of Warcraft for kids!” And running out into the worlds and clubbing rats with a stick seemed to confirm that. Nevertheless I was quite wrong. This is Dungeon Runners, for adults. What I mean is this: while there are dozens of elements drawn from our favourite fantasy MMO (and therefore from Diablo), this is a game that will appeal to adults for three distinct reasons. They are reasons that belong purely to Dungeon Runners, and nowhere else.
Firstly, it’s so easy to get into. You jump in, run through a portal and you’re away. The instancing is right there, and you’re never at a loss of what to do, or where to go. It’s easy to group, and even easier to complete your quests. It offers exactly the kind of lack of commitment that so many people who don’t play many MMOs are looking for. If you need twenty minutes of escape, then you can find it here.
Secondly, it’s genuinely funny and well-written. I laughed a couple of times, and I was supposed to laugh. The names of loot, for example, are self-aware and over-the-top versions of what you might find in other games. The first two-handed sword is called “Cardboard Sword” and an accompanying shield “Ghost-Faced Opaque Shield Of The Wallaby”. They just get sillier as the game goes on. Quests too quickly sprint towards the ridiculous, taking us with them as they go. That’s fairly rare for this kind of game. I mean, there are some good jokes in WoW too, but Dungeon Runners takes care to explicitly lampoon the genre it is aiming to exploit. I like that. I wish more games could be gently satirical and aware of their context without becoming a pantomime.
Finally, the basic version of the game is free, and the advanced version is $5 (about £2.50), so it’s not exactly going to cause you to default on that mortgage payment. The full version opens up a load of loot and new content, but the free game is playable enough too.
Of course there are some problems. There’s a distinct lack of options, especially in the chat and grouping areas. There’s no PvP, and no real scope for character development. The world is muted, tiny, closed off and stupidly repetitious. There’s no real complexity to combat, despite the endless loot. Nevertheless I can’t help recommending you take a look: it’s free, after all. And don’t knock a mark in the seventies. This game is worth playing.