By – Jarrett Riddle

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Review

Armed with just a sword and the shirt on their backs, our brave heroes must traverse a perilous dungeon. To plunder valuable treasures and earn valuable experience, these mighty champions have to best bloodthirsty creatures like ghosts, fire elementals, and rubber ducks in mortal combat. Wait, why are you yawning? This concept has been done to death? I think not, for Guild of Dungeoneering by Gambrinous doesn’t place the player in the shoes of the adventurer, but of the all-powerful game master. From your perch high atop the digital world, you are tasked with creating the area in which all the action takes place. Combine this with the responsibility of determining which cards can be played in battles and you’ve got yourself an addictive crossbreed of role playing and card game that’s sure to tickle the fancy of even the most uptight librarian.

Guild of Dungeoneering is still in development, with a release date estimated to be around Summer of this year. From the looks of things, the player will be able to take a modest upstart exploration guild and expand it from its starting two rooms to a large fortress. This will be done by purchasing new rooms with Glory points earned from adventuring. Taverns, libraries, apothecaries, and many other attachments will be available for building. The extent of the benefits obtained from such extensions are unknown at this time, but the concept certainly seems promising. Heroes can also be hired with the same currency, though for now they all start at level 1 and are of only the wizard and warrior variety. Since the game is still in an early stage, no video or audio options are present either.

So, what works in the game’s current state? The meat and potatoes of the whole she-bang: The dungeoneering! As the player enters the lair of the dreaded fire demon, he or she must strain their brain to defeat the menacing keeper. Hey, there’s that yawn again! This is where things get interesting, as a friendly tutorial box now shows you that instead of controlling the adventurer, you instead control the very environment that the hero is stuck in. At the start of every turn, a set of random cards are displayed and 3 must be chosen or discarded. Terrain, enemies, and money can be picked and placed in this grid paper-like world. All three of these selection types play a heavy role in how the situation plays out.

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Review

Without placing terrain cards, the hero has nowhere to go when it’s time for them to move. More importantly, they can’t get to pre-existing treasure chests full of phat loot! Also, there won’t be room for enemies, and without them our explorer won’t gain experience! In the final version, the Glory points gained from money tiles will play a vital role in expanding your guild, so balancing the use of all three kinds of resources wisely will be the key to success.

One must wonder how progress is made when the player doesn’t even control the protagonist’s movements. Ah, but that’s where a long-encased original dungeon crawling idea bursts forth from its cold, damp prison and slays the now-stale adventuring formula! The hero is enticed by intelligent placement of money and enemy cards: If they see one or the other on a nearby tile, they will move toward it. It’s not just a matter of using these two types of elements in a line to lead your explorer around, however. Terrain must be created to hold them, and these pieces must be connected like a puzzle. For example, an area with a path leading horizontally cannot be placed next to one with a vertical trail.

The fiery ruler of the dungeon doesn’t appreciate trespassers, and he’s determined to stop your plundering ways. Fortunately, you caught him at bath time. This gives our hero 10 turns to explore, fight monsters, and acquire equipment. If the fire demon is to be vanquished after he dries off, levels will have to be gained and great gear will need to be equipped. Victorious battles result in the player selecting a prize from three random categories that are leveled with the opponent defeated. These include weapons, helmets, armor, and accessories.

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Review

Items that can be equipped upon the hero bestow skills and/or attributes. Skills give access to new cards that are used in battles, and have levels that can be stacked among different gear. So if you have a headpiece that grants 2 tiers of Arcane and an accessory that gives 1, you’ll have 3 new abilities to use in combat. Finding a set of equipment that supplies you with an effective moveset is the most important part of defeating enemies and ultimately conquering the dungeon.

That’s where enemy cards come in handy. Placing one and having the protagonist run into it triggers a fight to the death. At the beginning of a battle, three random cards are dealt from the player’s and enemy’s decks. The opponent always takes its turn first, placing an attack card on their side of the screen. These come in several different forms, including doing physical or magical damage to you, draining your health, blocking your combat attempts, or a combination of these.

Wearing a matching set of gear and thinking carefully about your card-playing choices often proves that strategy is more important than the luck of drawing good attack cards. While the different skill sets obtained from equipment are well balanced and all perfectly viable to complete the dungeon, some methods may be more effective against certain monster types. For instance, items that give you blocking abilities against both kinds of damage come in handy against those who dish out a lot of pain, like the fire demon.

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Review

Guild of Dungeoneering has a simple, yet charming aesthetic. While character art has a doodle-like appearance, set pieces are detailed and hand-drawn. These two styles appearing right aside one another has the potential to clash, but somehow never does so. The only thing that I would like to see improved is that there are currently very few animations. The protagonist, as well as monsters, appear as cutouts that bob left and right to show movement. In combat, there aren’t any effects for attacks, and the only way to tell the difference between physical and magical damage is through text.

Audio is very minimalistic as well. There are a few relaxing music tracks that loop while dungeon delving, while sound effects are kept quiet. The game is easy enough to control, as the mouse is the only input used, both for menu selection and exploring. Every type of gamer, from casual to hardcore, should be able to understand and play within a short span of time. The only nitpick I have is that cards have to be dragged into the play area during battle every turn. It would be much easier if the attacks clung to the mouse cursor without holding the left button down, or simply activates upon clicking.

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Review

Conclusion – Is It Worth Checking Out?

Guild of Dungeoneering is a great concept that, while still a few months from being completed, shows a lot of promise. When it comes down to it, the art, mechanics, and general tone of the game just seem to work. Battles are fun, and stage design is never the same since you ultimately determine the layout.  This is an RPG/Card hybrid that fans of either genre should be excited about.

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Technical Summary:

Guild of Dungeoneering Beta Review

  • Time Played – 6 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – No
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • DRM – TBD
  • System Specs – 3.7 GHz AMD A10-6700, 768MB Radeon 8670D, 8GB RAM
  • Control Scheme – Mouse
  • Acquisition Method – Preview Copy
  • Availability – Steam, Official Site
  • Demo – No
  • Version: 0.7.3

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