Bossa Studios’ Deep Dungeons of Doom isn’t your average mobile game, nor your average RPG for that matter. The indie developer, which also lends its name to recent cult-hit, Surgeon Simulator 2013, has crafted something refreshing and innovative, yet undeniably familiar.
As the name suggests, DDD is all about dungeon crawling. Starting off as the rather tank-like Crusader (read: warrior), players will trawl through caverns, sewers, and a variety of other perilous subterranean lairs in search of glory and riches. The riches which you accrue will allow you to acquire new abilities and increase your characters’ stats as well as equip them with better gear and items.
Where dungeon crawling can often be a tedious pursuit in some games, DDD shrugs off the some of the monotony with its streamlined design. It may just be a personal thing, but one aspect that really puts me off old-school RPGs -and even modern ones- is the needless amount of navigation. This isn’t a problem in DDD, however; instead of forcing players to trek through vast tunnels and corridors, the game focuses almost exclusively on its turn-based encounters.
I’m in danger of sounding like a broken record here, but when I revisit classics like Final Fantasy or even Pokémon, I find the combat to be a somewhat grinding experience. Luckily, Deep Dungeons of Doom came to my rescue once more with its simple yet tactical approach to turn-based combat.
All encounters are strictly one-on-one with players on the left and baddies on the right. Mimicking these on-screen positions are the block and attack buttons, which must be alternated in a rhythmic fashion to overcome opponents. It can be hard to grasp at first, though soon enough you’ll find yourself falling into the same pattern: reading an enemy’s attack animations, blocking, and following up with a barrage of savage blows.
Once defeated your foe will disintegrate, usually triggering a chest to open, with gold to flow into your coffers. When satisfied you can then swipe up on the touch-screen and drop into the room below or linger for a little while longer. Though most floors are populated with hostile dungeon dwellers, you’ll also come across story-related NPCs, altars and, of course, bosses. These are perhaps the highlight of DDD and help to combat the inevitable repetitiveness found in some of the game’s larger dungeons.
The crusader may be touted as the game’s lead character but soon our armoured protagonist finds himself flanked by a witch and mercenary. No matter which career path you follow, gameplay will remain largely the same with only a few tweaks here and there. The witch, for instance, will need to keep topping up her mana between floors whereas the mercenary is agile and able to dish out fatal combos.
Within DDD’s free download there’s plenty of content, though you’ll soon run into the game’s paywall. The real cash shop is hidden well, but to play past the first cluster of dungeons, you’ll need to throw down £1.99, with more paid expansions further down the line. It’s perhaps not the most cheeky implementation of in-app purchases, but it is one that will ultimately force players to put in some cash or hang up their sword and cape.
If you connect with the game’s retro feel and sped-up game mechanics, the paywall should be no problem. Either way, Deep Dungeons of Doom is still a fantastic little game, suitable for both long sessions and five-minute bursts. Lifting it even higher is Bossa’s brilliant pixel art and accompanying soundtrack, which can be sampled here.
The bottom line? Buy if you love JRPGs with a little bit of zest. Avoid if you have zero tolerance for grinding or repetition.