Kacper: Wonderland Kazakiri inc., A young Japanese studio founded only in 2015, recently released its biggest – so far – game. Dungeon & Gravestone is an intriguing dungeon RPG with rogue-like elements, in which – quite standard for this genre – we traverse dungeons, defeat a lot of nasty creatures, collect gold and level up to the accompaniment of quite banal plot, but beautiful pixel graphics and wonderful 8-bit music . Simplifying the entire production into this one sentence would be very detrimental to the title, so don’t finish your reading here. I took the game with my editorial colleague Konrad Noga and each of us looked at Dungeon & Gravestone from a slightly different perspective. Well, but one by one – I invite you to our duet.
The plot – an interesting story or a simple cliché?
Konrad: The first moments in the world of “dungeon and grave” are quite specific. Not only are we just waking up deprived of tissues in the cemetery, and some old ramol is talking to us about the Demon King living in the nearby dungeons, which he tells us to penetrate, but just before entering them we come across a dying adventurer, who just before he dies, he gives us his body. The town in which we woke up is no less strange. It is changing constantly, which is closely related to the aforementioned dungeons – the deeper we go, the more it changes, although the inhabitants do not seem to notice it completely. Dungeon & Gravestone therefore offers some interesting ideas that push us to further expeditions in the hope that we will finally find answers to our questions. Nevertheless, it is difficult to talk about an interesting, coherent story here – it is rather a cluster of intriguing ideas. But let’s face it, Dungeon & Gravestone is not a title that requires a good story. This type of game can add wings to the game, which Hades has proved so well, but this type of production requires, above all, good gameplay.
This genre is the gameplay – how does Dungeon and Gravestone fare in this aspect?
Kacper: The gameplay is very average. Dungeon & Gravestone does not stand out in this respect, but I do not think it is something particularly bad – it’s a classic RPG dungeon, in which we go lower and lower in the dungeons, defeat stronger and stronger rivals and collect more and more treasures. The game itself stops surprising after just 15 minutes. The whole thing is based on simple diagrams – kill all the slimes here to pick up the key that will open that door, kill 3 skeletons there, and as a reward you will be able to open the chest in which you will find a bomb and two potions. And that’s it, actually.What. Nothing else awaits us here. This is what is my biggest problem with Dungeon & Gravestone, here the whole game reveals all the cards after a while of playing. For this reason, I cannot imagine that this title would attract anyone for more than a maximum of 10 hours. It’s a pity, because this game is full of potential.
Konrad: While penetrating the dungeons, some breeze of freshness are the gaps in space-time appearing here and there, taking us to special chambers with challenges. These, unlike the other levels, are not randomly generated, but cleverly designed so that the overconfident player with his naivety cut off his way to the treasure that is the reward for solving the puzzle. The puzzles are not too difficult, but take a moment to think to plan your next steps. It is also worth mentioning that the level generator sometimes makes quite debatable decisions, throwing us into a completely empty row of corridors without any enemies or traps, and it also happens to place items in an impossible place, because they block them, for example, two unfortunately located levers. It doesn’t happen all the time, and any problem can be solved by force, simply blowing up the walls of the dungeon.
Buying, rolling and other pillars of “croissants”
Konrad: Perfect once sang that you have to know when to leave the stage undefeated. A similar rule, as in the case of “croissants”, was also used in Dungeon and Gravestone, because in the event of death, we are really left with nothing – because all our loot and gold are lost. Without them, the development of our hero is very difficult. Although the character levels gained during subsequent escapades translate into upgrade points, for which we can increase the amount of space in the bag, slightly extend the life bar or the time and strength of spells, but this does not significantly affect the gameplay. So it’s a much better idea to put your pride in your pocket and leave the dungeon with all your prey. For money and treasures from expeditions, we will not only replenish our stocks of potions and additional weapons, but also buy more powerful swords and shields, which we will later be able to improve. We will exchange rare rubies at a special merchant for another “corps”, that is simply other bodies with different statistics. We can also get money and upgrades for completing quests from the bulletin board – 900 gold for killing 100 skeletons or more storage space for bringing four vials of mucus.I have an amazing weakness for 8-bit soundtracks, and the ones from Dungeon & Gravestone fit perfectly into the production atmosphere. The graphics, although reminiscent of Minecraft textures at first glance, are eye-catching and really solid. For this I must praise the Japanese team for the character models – these are really diverse and just very nice. Even big bosses can make a very positive impression, which is not so obvious, considering the graphic style of the latest work of Wonderland Kazakiri inc. In this respect, Dungeon & Gravestone truly delivers and rivals even the toughest competition on the market. The locations are also not uglier – the city, which is our “starting point”, likes to completely change its appearance and once we see a dark, dark town, more resembling a cemetery, and at other times we will find only bazaars scattered on the torn cobblestones with a blue fog in the background. Great effect. The structure of the dungeons themselves is not ugly either – you know, underground, the creators had a little less room to show off, but the randomly generated levels of the dungeon actually differ from each other and they can also surprise you positively.
Is it worth buying a Dungeon & Gravesone?
Kacper: As much as I would like to, I cannot answer this question unequivocally. Dungeon & Gravestone is a game that has a lot of untapped potential. It could have been a really great rogue-like, but due to the repetitive patterns and banal storyline, it becomes a curiosity for a few hours, which I will probably forget two days after removing the game from the console’s disc. I didn’t have a bad time with this game, but I felt weary quite quickly. Nevertheless, I believe that it is worth giving this game a chance – maybe not for the full price, because PLN 70 is a bit much for such a position – because Dungeon & Gravestone can entertain you for a few hours, while completely captivating with its audiovisual setting.
Konrad: The key word in the case of Dungeon & Gravestone is “charm” in my opinion, because it is a production that is really charming in many ways. However, there are many shortcomings here – from the pranks of the dungeon generator, to design errors that make it difficult to learn about the mechanics sewn in the game. The charm itself is therefore a bit too little to stay in my memory for a long time, overflowing with hundreds of other, better positions, so most likely soon, just like Kacper, I will simply forget about it in the world. By the way, the perfect game to play a podcast in the background ..