Dungeon Drafters Review

Dungeon Drafters header

You can get me to do a lot of things if you just toss a collectible card system into it. The rush of opening a pack, or the satisfaction of browsing dozens of card illustrations, and the thrill of discovering a brand new card could make even doing your taxes entertaining. Whether it’s in a physical card game or a genre-bending video game, card collecting is always a delight. So I was pretty excited when I saw Dungeon Drafters, a game seemingly blending all the best parts of turn-based roguelikes and Mystery Dungeon thrills with a robust card system.

There’s a story to your adventure in Dungeon Drafters, but it’s incredibly light. As one of six different adventurers with their own background and aesthetic, you’re tasked with diving into ancient abandoned ruins spread across multiple dungeons, vanquishing the monsters lurking in them and living to tell the tale. Everything in this game revolves around cards – your goal in the story is to rid the world of powerfully evil forbidden cards, and each of your playable characters has a differently themed deck of powerful cards they’ll just to do just that. As you win battles and escape dungeons you’ll earn new cards to let you build whatever style of deck you want, but having these archetypes immediately available to dive into and try out really helped me get a feel for what was possible in the game.

Dungeon Drafters has Mystery Dungeon stylings

Some characters, like the Shinobi, are melee-focused and designed for direct and immediate confrontation. Others offer a similar focus on alternate play-styles like ranged projectile decks or summon & trap-focused cards. No matter what style you go for, the rules of engagement are simple. Dungeons will toss you into a series of small, closed-room encounters with multiple enemies. On your turn, you’ve got three action points to spend on moving across tiles, dishing out a basic attack, or activating a card. Once you’ve spent those points, your enemies get to act. Some games give you an immediate taste of your full abilities when you first boot them up, but my options in Dungeon Drafters felt intensely limited at first.

As you try, and die, and try again, your options expand in multiple ways. You’ll get new cards, but you’ll also get new ways to acquire cards and new reasons to use them. Besides the five main dungeons, there’s the massive Tower mode, as well as arena puzzles, draft mode, and the gauntlet. Soon enough, things snowball away from that frustratingly limited set of options you had in the beginning, and eventually, you’ve got so many card options and build strategies to experiment with that it’s hard to know where to begin. A lot of that random charm from Mystery Dungeon games started to spring up for me around this point – diving into dungeons and just sort of haphazardly discovering what all of my cards did and the surprising ways they synergized made for a really charming experience.

Dungeon Drafters cards and deck building

Throughout all of that, the charm of Dungeon Drafters style and aesthetic is undeniable. The game has a great blend of stylized art and pixelated sprites that give every moment plenty of personality. On top of it all is an atmospheric, exciting soundtrack that I couldn’t get enough of. It’s got that lo-fi, repetitive charm of a Game Boy Advance games music and I couldn’t ask for anything better to accompany my dungeon dives. The vision wasn’t clear though my first couple hours with Dungeon Drafters, but after all is said and done, I’m pleased by how well this game blends the thrill and surprises of a Mystery Dungeon adventure with the addictive collectathon spirit of deck building.

Summary
Dungeon Drafters is the Mystery Dungeon-Phantom Dust hybrid I never knew I needed in my life. It has all the excitement and challenge of a dungeon-diving adventure, bundled together with the one-more-pack thrill of a card-collecting game.
Good
  • Fun blend of dungeon crawling and card collecting
  • Electrifying old-school soundtrack
  • Wonderful art
Bad
  • Deck options are vague and limited at first
  • Some clunky/repetitive menu interactions
8
Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.

Leave a Reply