What we know as first-person, grid-based dungeon crawlers are a thing of the past. Those old-school RPGs where you had to jot down in a notebook the layout of labyrinthine dungeons have gone almost entirely out of fashion save a few honorable exceptions such a Legend of Grimrock. Dungeon Monsters is a free-to-play game for Android the brings back that game system but gives the concept a facelift to make it much more dynamic. The result, against all odds, is great fun.
A simplified first-person dungeon crawler
The game has you traversing small dungeons using the classic turn controls and advancing in first person while defeating monsters and coming across traps, although the depth of the idea behind the games on which it’s based has been completely diluted into something more like one of those ‘clickers’ where you have to pound the screen to get rid of enemies. This compression makes it so each level is no longer than four or five minutes long, which is more than necessary for smartphone games, where leaving a game half-finished is hardly ideal.
Crafting and improving your characters in Dungeon Monsters
As usual, the things that work have been all jumbled together, meaning if these days what’s trendy is trading cards and creature crafting, well, those gets thrown in, too. In Dungeon Monsters RPG you can take in the enemies you defeat and level them up while investing in improving their stats. That’s where the game’s monetization system sneaks in, letting you optionally speed up the upgrade process by spending real money.
This hodgepodge of rewards, treasure chests, keys, experience, and dungeoning ends up in a light amusement that, despite obviously not being comparable with the original experience it aims to imitate, is still entertaining to play quick rounds and savor its nostalgic flavor. And at this point it’s quite clear that all things retro—even when stretched and their context shaken up to be made more accessible to all palates—still sell.