Review: The Dungeon Saga (iPhone)

5 mins read

The Dungeon Saga is an interesting meld between Bejewlled and an RPG and provides enough content to keep a player captivated for hours.

Taking control of one of two specific character types, a wizard or an fighter, you attempt to delve into a many layered dungeon to fight a vicious demon who has been terrorising the neighbouring town (if any are left to save after a rather hilarious opening cut scene. Well, its funny if you’re not a sympathiser of the pitchfork weilding mob). Taking a linear path, the player is forced to defeat various monsters and level bosses, hurdles in your task to proceed further into the dungeon. So how do you defeat the monsters? By playing a puzzle game that will provide powers to bring down your opponents and protecting yourself.

It’s Puzzle Quest, but with hexes!

The puzzle game is one where each space in a hexagon shaped grid formation is filled with one of 5 elements; swords (attack), gold (currency), green stars (experience), shields (defence) and blue potions (mana). Claiming these elements is easy, as each player alternatively identifies, using the touch system, a group of 3 or more adjacent collections of these elements. Once the group has been identified, it is either added to the player’s collection or takes immediate effect (for example, the sword allows the player to attack or mana is added to the stored magic area). If a player isolates a collection in excess of six, they are rewarded with an immediate bonus round, where they take the next turn.

The element is then removed and randomly assigned elements take the place to refill the grid. Turns alternate until one of the combatant’s life total is reduced to 0, a which point the battle is won and the player takes the next step along the path. Should you lose, a life is lost and should you lose all of them your game is over. Adding complexity into the gameplay includes the inability to go back along the path, increasing difficulty in your opponents, the application of gold and experience (which is used to improve weapons, armour, life and mana totals), a limited number of lives and, with appropriate experience, the inception of spells that exert influence on the game.

Dungeon Saga has great depth as it contains seven dungeon levels. Whilst initially the challenge is quite easy, the latter stages will test how well you have developed your character. There is a noticable difference in character design and this customisation is directed towards the traditional themes: wizards like magic and warriors like brute force. Replayability is high, the levels will take a while for you to work your way through, especially if you feel compelled to complete them with both fighter and wizard (and try different forms of customisation). Thankfully the game saves automatically.

The artificial intelligence is fantastic, an excellent match for the well-crafted graphics. Even at the most basic level your opponents will not allow you to dominate and will take the path that assists them the most, if there is a chain of seven they will take it for the bonus round, and if low on hitpoints will ensure they regain them. The priorities are spot on. Combined with some excellent sound effects it does make for a memorable experience.

Yep, that’s a linear map alright

Picking flaws, the gameplay does feel slightly lacking in depth. You do feel as through you are replaying the same, if more complicated levels, and progressing down a linear path. As a result, especially the easy mode, the game feels fateful, and by the 5th or 6th level of the dungeon, providing you have been growing your character intelligently, the game has an overwhelming ‘been here, done that’ feel to it.

Despite these flaws, Dungeon Saga is quite addictive so if puzzlers are your thing, you will get a lot out of it. Whilst not as time-consuming as some other notable RPG or puzzlers on the iOS – such as the superior Puzzle Quest, the excellent AI means this game deserves a place in most libraries, whilst the RPG touches will add appeal to most gamers.

– Owen S

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