Deep Deep Dungeon is the latest from developer iQubi, but while the dungeon may be deep, the game most definitely is not. If anything, Deep Deep Dungeon is a casual RPG that may be just a little too casual for its own good.
When iQubi entered the app store fray earlier in the year with The War of Eustrath, they delivered one of the deepest, most narrative driven role-playing games yet released for Apple’s mobile devices. Deep Deep Dungeon sees the developer turning about-face and marching in the opposite direction. Depending on your perspective, that may or may not be a bad thing.
Deep Deep Dungeon allows the player to choose between a male or female character to take into the titular deep, deep dungeon. The floors of the dungeon are grid based, and players follow paths from one cell to the next encountering monsters and treasures along the way. Killings monsters wins experience points that level up your character. Leveling is automatic, without character customization options. Treasure chests contain gold and occasionally contain healing potions as well. Gold may be spent outside of the dungeon to purchase better weaponry and armor for your character.
When monsters are encountered, players enter combat. Combat is turn-based, with monsters represented as two-dimensional artwork, without animation. They’re cute and well-drawn. An indicator moves rapidly over an attack gauge with colored areas marking the miss, hit and critical regions. Tapping the screen stops the indicator, goal being to get it into the hit or critical regions to inflict damage. Different weapons have different attack gauges, and upgrading weapons allows you to inflict a greater amount of damage.
You can leave the dungeon anytime to shop. From the surface, you can either pay a fee to return to the dungeon at the same point you left, or you can tackle the dungeon again from the first floor with your new found strength.
And that is everything there is to know about Deep Deep Dungeon.
Presentation & Interface: Deep Deep Dungeon has a great sense of style, full of attractive artwork. Its interface is super clean and easy to grasp. All-in-all, the game is a tightly wrapped package and a quality production.
Solid: There’s nothing at all broken about Deep Deep Dungeon. The mechanics and gameplay are all very solid, easily understood and provide for an effective experience.
Lack of Depth: Despite being a very solid game, Deep Deep Dungeon just doesn’t offer all that much. Floor-after-floor, explore the grid, find gold and fight monsters. Make occasional trips to the surface to shop, then descend and repeat. There is literally nothing else to do.
Boring Combat: Combat amounts to waiting your turn, then tapping in time to the attack gauge. It’s simple, and quickly becomes a chore. There’s nothing about battle that engages the player’s brain. There are no skills, spells or special attacks. Monsters do not inflict status effects or make special attacks; they just hit you. It boils down to exchanging blows, then healing when your HP is low.
For the sake of comparison, Sword & Poker offers a similar node-based dungeon-crawl mechanic, but keeps combat interesting by engaging the player with poker-based puzzling, and magic spells that help to mix things up. Puzzle Quest also offers what is essentially node-based exploration of an overworld map, but handles combat with a robust and deeply satisfying match-3 mechanic featuring resource management, special skills and diverse enemy types with unique skills and tactics. Deep Deep Dungeon never set out to be quite as in-depth as Puzzle Quest, but set its own bar a little too low for this reviewer’s liking.
Had Deep Deep Dungeon even borrowed some strategic options from iQubi’s own War of Eustrath, it would have helped.
Ultimately, Deep Deep Dungeon is just too simplistic for its own good. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it’s not an interesting game either, as it just doesn’t do enough to maintain the player’s interest over time — and the dungeon is deep enough that it will take some time to get through, if you don’t lose patience with the game first.
Deep Deep Dungeon is solid and succinct, a tightly wound and complete casual RPG game. But when I want to play a game of this sort I am far more likely to reach either for Sword & Poker or its sequel than I am for this.