Guild of Dungeoneering is one of the most charming games I’ve played yet. The game opens with a bard singing on about the exploits of your little band of ruffians while a hand-drawn title screen fills your monitor. The bard himself is not really on your side; he spends his time mocking your minio- I mean, employees every time they come back in a box as well as when they come back successful.
All the songs are sung to the same tune and yet they never get annoying; rather they put a smile on my face. It’s all immensely entertaining and cute with a bit of a dark undertone.
The style of the game is a fun lighthearted pencil drawing akin to the maps my dungeon master used to painstakingly draw on graph paper along with pitfalls and rubble in the room that, while not hindering you in any way, add to the ambiance and variety of the map you will lay out for your hapless...employees. The style nets it nostalgia points from yours truly.
The rooms themselves are drawn on cards, a handful of which you get at the top of your turn. There are three different types of card. You have the aforementioned room cards which add to the dungeons layout, monster cards for your explorer to fight and gain armor and weapons from, and the much less common loot card which quite frankly is self explanatory. The best strategy, as I have found, is to make the dungeon snake as much as possible to maximize loot collection.
After your explorer enters the dungeon, you get to play dungeon keeper; laying down loot, rooms, and monsters in such a way that they can gain enough levels and swag to accomplish their goals.
New classes and equipment are opened up in the guild page by unlocking new rooms. Which are, of course, unlocked with gold. The Guild is also where your employees live. For example, the stage opens up the mime. Each class has it’s own strengths and weaknesses and each bit of equipment gives you more boons and attack cards to use in battle.
Battle itself concerns yet another set of cards. There are two types of damage – magic and physical – both of which you can block. All this is further complicated (or assisted) by various enemy traits like Burn or Decay, the effects of fountain rooms (Fountain of Stupidity makes you draw blank cards. Fun.) or even your own traits like the Bruisers Spikes trait.
The game is not without it’s problems. I encountered a bug where a new dungeoneers card got stuck in the middle of my screen. I had to quit to the main menu to get rid of it, though that’s not a huge deal as it saves the game at the end of every excursion into the dungeons.
The other thing I disliked was the way the characters’ stats and such came up. The game forces you to go into the character sheet every time you want to check a status change. I wish there was a tooltip for that, when there are tooltips for just about every item effect.
These are however minor gripes. I love this game. It’s just the thing I like to play after a long string of failures in Binding of Issac or something equally frustrating. Your dead dungeon crawlers are replaced every time and they start each level at 1 so I do not feel like I have gone through all this grinding only to lose a very well kitted-out character like you would in a game like X-COM. You can play over and over with no real consequences that I have come across yet.
Who should buy this? Anyone who has a touch of nostalgia from playing DnD or anyone who is a fan of Munchkin. It is easy to pick up and easy to play. If you like to get invested in a story, or are looking for something with less RNG this will not be a good choice for you.
Me however? I plan on putting many many more hours into this lighthearted yet deceptively complicated game.