GAME REVIEW: Dungeons of Dreadrock

Developer: Christoph Minnameier
Publisher: Christoph Minnameier
Platforms: Switch, Apple, & PC
Release Date: 5/12/22 (Switch)
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Editor’s Note: We received an early review copy of the game from the publisher, which in no way has influenced our writer’s opinion on the title.

Have you ever experienced a dungeon puzzle game that is easy to pick up and play? Well the time is now: delve deep through 100 floors as you please! Coming to the Nintendo Switch is Dungeons of Dreadrock!

Synopsis:

Every year a boy is chosen by the Elders, who task him with heading to the bottom of the dungeon to kill the “Dead King”. You’ll play as the boy’s sister who was ordered by the Elders to wait outside the entrance, because women in this culture are not allowed to touch a sword. The boy confides to his sister that he doesn’t want to go alone, although tradition prohibits anyone was accompanying him. Overwhelmed by her sorrows, the girl sets out to search for her brother in the Dungeons of Dreadrock. Time to tackle 100 floors of crafty puzzles, deadly enemies, and a grim yet fun experience!

Gameplay:

The controls are pretty simple. You use the directional pad or analog stick to hop your character across squares horizontally and vertically. When approaching an enemy, your character engages in an auto attack, so timing is crucial for combat. There are many other ways to kill enemies without approaching them directly, so this game incorporates enemies into its the puzzle solving formula.

The difficulty of Dungeons of Dreadrock is as easy or hard as you want. You’ll traverse between 100 floors, all of which are called “chapters” in the game, with each floor offering a different puzzle. Though these puzzles are very clever and unique, there are two ways to assist you if should you get stuck. One way is looking for scrolls tucked in the walls that provide riddles to help you solve the puzzle. The game also displays a hint showing what the next correct move should be after you’ve failed numerous times, though you can turn this option off in the settings menu. I’ll admit, I was stumped a number of times, and would try to use only the first step of a hint to nudge me in the right direction.

One quality that I love about this game is that certain enemies will follow you to each floor if you run past them. This can be crucial to completing some rooms as they are often connected to the current puzzle. Another quality of the game I found very convenient and frequently used was the puzzle reset button. This function allows you to not waste any time and instantly reset the room you’re in and try again right away. This avoids having to force death to restart or being stuck from doing a puzzle wrong. These rooms will also have items that will be saved for future puzzles, so it’s important to be aware of items you’ve acquired throughout your travels.

The bestiary of this game has so many different enemies with wonderful designs. You’ll encounter enemies like dryads, minotaurs, ogres, and even zombies! After killing enemies and walking over their dead bodies you’ll notice it leaves a short trail of bloody footprints which I found to be a fascinating detail!

Dungeons of Dreadrock constantly mixes up the gameplay to keep you engaged. In between rooms you’ll come across campfires to add short story scenes/visions/dreams. You’ll also come across a few companions that help you solve puzzles in certain rooms. You may need to strategically throw your sword to activate a switch, which leaves you defenseless and more prone to dying. What an adrenaline rush!

As you progress, the game saves at each floor and allows you to replay rooms. Also, there is a cheat menu if you want to skip ahead any floors but I can say, it’s too much fun to ever want to do that! There are times you have to smash doors with your sword and I love that each hit has a textbox reaction like “POW BAM THUMP”.

My only real complaint is that the game is far too short. Clocking in at around 4 hours, I was left craving even more puzzles to solve; the gameplay is just that fun! Also, while the story starts off nicely, it is fed to you in such small amounts throughout that it just doesn’t stand out when compared to the awesome gameplay.

Final Score: 4.5/5 Stars

This has been the most satisfying dungeon crawler through-and-through. I admired the gameplay, clever puzzles, art design, and sound effects. The story is fed to you in crumbs, but it strives the most in gameplay.

Dungeons of Dreadrock is a must play! Although a short experience running around 4 hours on my completion, the game is smart, captivating, and values your time. It’s also very adaptable so you can easily put the game down and jump back in whenever. I highly recommend it for fans of dungeon crawlers or 2D Zelda games.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dungeons of Dreadrock developer Christoph Minnameier, which you can read below:

Dungeons of Dreadrock Q&A with Christoph Minnameier

Q. Did you have any strong inspirations for creating Dungeons Of Dreadrock?

A. “Definitely. Dungeon Master, Legend of Grimrock, Another World, Limbo, Inside, Sokoban and Bomberman. Sounds like a wild mix? It sure is. I would call the result a top-down cinematic puzzle platformer. But I’d never say that in public, to avoid the discussions.”

Q. Was there anything you wanted to do with Dungeons of Dreadrock that wasn’t possible at the time?

A. “Actually there is: In the final dream where the dead king aborts the sacrifice to leave the dungeon and confront the elders I would have loved to add an animated split camera effect like in some artsy movies that shows two scenes at the same time. But I realized it was just out of scope and potentially too render heavy for mobile.”

Q. How long was Dungeons of Dreadrock in development?

A. “Roughly two years as a side project.”

Q. How many members are on the Dev team?

A. On Twitter “Dmitry (@yes_i_do_pixels) for environment art, Fabian (@vierbit) for character art and TJ (@LovettVoices) for voiceovers. They’re all incredible artists and I was lucky they had time to help me with my little project.”

Q. My favorite quality of the game aside from the clever puzzles, was that some enemies would follow you to other floors. What do you believe stands out most in Dungeons of Dreadrock?

A. “I think that would be the gap between the minimalist control scheme compared to the rich experience the game provides.”

Q. What were the most challenging obstacles during development?

A. “Implementing more complicated stuff sometimes was a real challenge. I usually started at nighttime when my kids were in bed. And while it’s not rocket science to design and implement something like a save system that allows characters and items to transition between levels it’s really no fun to do it spread out over weeks in rather short bedtime sessions. That nearly drove me insane compared to the fun parts like puzzle design.”

Q. Would you care to give us a short summary about yourself?

A. “Professionally I studied computer science, PhD’d in complexity theory and concurrency theory, worked as a game programmer and finally became a professor in Game Design. In my private life, I’m a father of two and I like to write children’s books and create prototypes that I usually don’t finish and release.”

Q. Can we expect any DLC or new projects in the future?

“Making games as side projects is really time consuming. So I actually tried not to do that anymore, even before Dungeons of Dreadrock. But that being said, I probably won’t be able to fight down the vision for a sequel that started building in my head.”

A big thank you to Christoph Minnameier and the Dungeons of Dreadrock team!

Available May 12 on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $10 (USD) Will you be picking up this game? Let us know in comments, or hop on over to the Boss Rush Discord!

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