Hey all you roguelike fans! Oh, and those of you who are also interested but maybe just haven't taken the leap yet, you should listen too because Seramy Games' Dungeon Ascendance could be what turns your interest into love. Available for your lovely Android device, it's a roguelike that offers its levels in easy to digest chunks that allow you to choose a different class before each one. Because there's nothing like getting down to the 20th level and regretting your choice of a mage. (Why is my HP still so low!?) But don't let the structure scare away you veterans; the challenge of the game packs quite a punch.
You are a hero. Your goal is at it always has been: head into the deadly dungeon and defeat the evil master of monsters so they'll stop bothering the local townspeople. (Don't you remember the days when you could play in your front yard in peace?) By choosing your battles carefully and handling your hit points and magic points with a frugal eye, there'll be no problem in leveling up enough to take down the Dungeon Master.
The controls are fairly simple and all the information you could want is quite literally at your fingertips. Move your character around by tapping an empty square. Tapping a square with an item on it will automatically pick up that item (which may result in it also being used, depending on the item). Monsters work the same way, but you must first be standing in an adjacent square before tapping it will cause you to perform a melee attack. Abilities and potions, once in your inventory, are used by tapping them. Not sure what's what? Pressing and holding over an icon will create a pop-up window with more in depth information. It certainly helps out when you're not sure what the dripping red skull on the spider's stats mean.
Analysis: While unlocking characters and making your way through the increasingly difficult dungeons is enough to keep at the game, where it's most compelling is in the long, long list of achievements. Found that dungeon too easy? Well how about doing it without using your Heal ability? It's the strategy of it all that helps keep this from being a generic roguelike. Pick a class, pick a dungeon, now complete it with the limited supplies you're given. Plus, when you eat some food to heal yourself, any creatures who've taken damage will also take the opportunity to heal themselves a bit. (What? Monsters with some sense of self-preservation?!)
What the game lacks is sound effects and music. Sure, you can set it to vibrate every time you tap something, but without the aural stimulation, it can be hard to really immerse yourself in the game. At least the chunky visuals help to make up for it by keeping a retro feel that so many of us fans of the genre are familiar with (check out the Credits to see where some of the neat tile art came from).
Sure, it's possible to sit and kill several hours on this game in one sitting, the structure of playing one level at a time with one class at a time makes it a great choice for those who need something they can pick up and drop easily. Is it a good game for your fifteen minute coffee breaks? Yes. Is it a good game for the twelve hour road trip to attend a wedding you don't really want to? Yes, definitely. And with the ability to transfer your progress from the free demo to the full version, there's no disadvantage to trying it out first.
Note: Since this review was written, Dungeon Ascendance has been updated to include sound and music as well as upscaled graphics for tablet devices!
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on a Droid Razr. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.