Warrior. Paladin. Mage. Plumber?
Starting off any game as a character who’s described as “whiny”, “annoying”, “idiot” and whose starting weapon is toilet scrubber is unique, but that’s how Goblinz Studio’s Dungeon Rushers, a 2D tactical RPG with dungeon crawling, dungeon building, item crafting, turn-based fighting and a whole lot of a humor, begins.
Starting on a Mario-like world map with various dungeons and locations spread throughout the land, the game quickly funnels you to square hex dungeon after dungeon where there are treasures to be found, shrines and statues to pray at (resulting in either being blessed or cursed), enemies to fight and traps to deal with.
Dealing with traps and praying at statues is an easy one-click decision. The fights, however, are tactical and play out like a Final Fantasy game. Each character in your party has different abilities and attacks. Elian, the protagonist, and aforementioned plumber, is suited for long range bow combat whereas Thorgrim, a hilarious dwarf accountant turned warrior, is great with his Whirlwind ability which hits all enemies in a column. Pod, a minstrel you meet a few dungeons later, is great with buffs for your party. The battles themselves take place on a two by three grid wherein you can place heavily armored warriors like Thorgrim in the front to protect your weaker ranged and buff characters. Speed, or initiative, is important as the fights are turn-based, and nothing is worse than seeing a wounded character knocked in the first round of combat by skeletal crossbowmen.
Dungeon Rushers has a Specialization and Talent Tree similar to World of Warcraft wherein, as your character progresses through leveling up, you pick a Specialization like Swordsman, Archer, or Ranger for Elian and then use points gained from leveling up to unlock certain bonuses like bonus damage or reduced mana cost for specific abilities.
Your characters also have Dungeon Abilities which can help you navigate the dangerous dungeons grids. Elian can scout tiles before reaching them and can disarm traps. Thorgrim can find treasure easily and sacrifice himself to traps for the good of the party. Pod can recharge some of your character’s mana and put groups of enemies to sleep before battle. Melinda, a vampire, can stalk a group of monsters which gives your party increased critical hit chance when engaging that particular group of foes. These abilities are activated using your characters Stamina which, like mana and health, can be refilled using potions and abilities. The delicate balance of figuring when to use stamina to activate an ability and when to take the hit of damage from a trap or from a group of monsters adds to the overall strategic fun.
These Dungeon Abilities are vital, due to the fact that Dungeon Rushers can be extremely difficult. Your characters level up, but the dungeons themselves do not have levels so you never know how difficult the venture is. In addition, healing potions are ridiculously in short supply and until you get the vampire Melinda on your team, none of your characters can heal themselves. However, as the game progresses and you get your team dynamic working with buffs, heals, and long range damage working in concert, your journey not only becomes much easier, but also a lot more fun.
Dungeon Rushers’ enemies are also a very nasty bunch.
In the beginning, you start off by fighting measly skeleton warriors, but before long you are dealing with heavily armored lancers, skeletal riders who buff their fellow compatriots, skeletal crossbowmen who wreak havoc from afar and necromancers who not only light your characters on fire, but can also bring back fallen skeletal warriors.
Each dungeon has a primary goal, or objective, and three bonus challenges which include slaying every monster in the dungeon or activating every event. In addition, after completing all of the bonus challenges in a dungeon, a Heroic Mode unlocks for that dungeon which increases enemy toughness, negates the use of potions and requires a key for the dungeon treasure forcing you to find and defeat the guardian mob in possession of the key.
Items and the crafting of items at the workshop are super important as you navigate dungeon after dungeon. At the workshop, you can craft a variety of weapons, armors, rings, amulets, potions and buffing beers. Each item you make levels your crafting skill which allows you to craft higher tier items.
An issue with the items is that they do not cosmetically change your character. Elian will always look like Elian and Thorgrim will always look like Thorgrim no matter what armor or kind of weapon you equip them with. This is a shame because part of the joy of playing RPGs, at least for me, is to see my characters going from puny peasants to total badasses.
Last, but definitely not least, Dungeon Rushers allows you to build your own dungeons complete with traps, enemies, shrines and statues, and of course treasure. The creation process is very intuitive and allows a lot of freedom. Once created, you can test them out yourself or you can go to the arena and dive into other player created dungeons which, in my experience, range from very fun to extremely challenging.
Overall, Dungeon Rushers is a ton of fun to play. The tactical battles, the plundering of dungeons for loot galore and goofy dialogue all add to the pleasure of playing the game. In addition, the easy to use dungeon creation tools with a multiplayer ranking system mean that players will continue to create and modify an elaborate assortment of dungeons for you to explore, loot and plunder.