Once in a blue moon, a game comes along out of nowhere and catches you by complete surprise. It could be chock full of fresh and fun gameplay, or maybe it has an excellent story full of plot twists and turns; perhaps it takes place in a beautifully crafted and immersive world and features an impressive soundtrack that will haunt your dreams whenever you lay your head down to rest. Whatever the reason for your enjoyment, it goes on to stay with you for days, weeks, maybe even years in some cases. I am here today to tell you: Bit Dungeon Plus is not that game. You will most likely forget it existed a day or two after playing it, but that’s ok. Not every game can be a meaningful masterpiece, and some games are just that: a game, something to idly pass the time. Let’s break it down now and see what makes Bit Dungeon Plus tick!
First and foremost, Bit Dungeon is an action adventure game with roguelike elements that can be played one or two players local co-op. You must fight your way through each floor, finding loot to gear up your character and look for stat boosts to make yourself even more powerful. Secondly, it is a 16-bit Zelda dungeon simulator, minus the puzzles. The flow of Bit Dungeon gets very repetitive after a while. Clear a room of enemies to get the key to the door. Go to the next room and repeat. Eventually, you will come to a red door containing the boss of the current floor. Beat it to move on to the next floor until you get asked if you want to be sent to the final dungeon area. Or, until you die and have to restart all over from scratch thanks to the non-optional permadeath feature. The only slight bit of progression that carries over from one game to the next are the character appearance customization options and the special items that you can unlock by collecting as many different types of armor as you can across all playthroughs. You can choose Tower of Babel mode from the main menu. It’s the same as the main mode except it’s timed, and there are no bosses between floors.
The loot system is handled in a simple way. When you find a piece of equipment it is automatically compared to your currently equipped piece. It shows the stats that will increase and decrease in green and red and you can equip it to the relevant slot easily with a single button press. Your old piece can be picked up off the floor again just in case you dropped it by mistake, which is something I’ve done often considering the attack and pickup button are one and the same. Sometimes clearing a room can net you a choice of stat increases. Three purple orbs depicting strength, hitpoints, and critical increase appear. You can only take one at a time so it’s best to choose according to your playstyle. Personally, I chose the strength increase almost every time. Like they say, a good offense is a good defense.
And speaking of offense, the combat can be surprisingly satisfying. Besides your standard attack, you also have access to a charge attack that makes you move faster around the map until the moment you unleash it on a poor, unsuspecting monster. Enemy attacks can be blocked as long as you have stamina left. Once you attempt to block without any stamina left the enemy will daze you, leaving you incapacitated while they pound on you with reckless abandon. Stamina replenishes quickly enough, though, so as long as you pay attention it shouldn’t be a problem. Magic can be found throughout the game but you can only use one type at a time. It’s used the same way as your other charge attack. After a brief charge-up, you unleash whatever type you have currently equipped. Your magic meter limits the number of times you can cast and it can only be replenished by magic potions dropped by defeated enemies. By now you may be wondering what kind of story you’ll be partaking in. Well, I don’t want to leave you in suspense, so...
Bit Dungeon contains just the barest minimum of story to get the action going and afterwards the game contains virtually zero dialogue. The setup for your adventure is as follows: your character wakes up in a cell with nothing but his sword, and his friend is missing. He sets off on a monster slaying rampage in order to exact some sweet vengeance. The only way you can find even this much out, unfortunately, is if you visit the game’s homepage on the Xbox Live marketplace because there is nothing about it in-game. I know that the developers were trying to go for an old-school arcade machine vibe, but I feel that even a little intro/ text crawl would have made a huge difference as opposed to having literally nothing.
I had a little bit of fun playing Bit Dungeon, but I can’t imagine actually picking it up and playing it again. The whole package is rather forgettable. The pixel-styled graphics are decent, as is the soundtrack, but even now I feel it all slipping away into the shadows of my mind. This is what I like to call a “filler” title. It is something you would only play to pass the time between a bigger, more exciting release. Ultimately, there are so many other better ways to pass the time out there and if you passed this game by, I doubt you would ever regret it.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 4/10
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