Nukezilla Review: Dungeon Blitz (PC)
I’m not going to lie—my expectations for this social, free-to-play, browser-based 2D fantasy RPG by Blue Mammoth Games were pretty low. Those expectations were based on my past experiences with similar games being very “meh” at best. To my surprise though, I came out of this review liking Dungeon Blitz. The game isn’t fantastic, mind you, but it’s not half bad.
Technically, Dungeon Blitz is a “freemium” game, meaning that you don’t pay for the game itself but there are items you can buy with real money that provide you with in-game “conveniences” (more on that in a minute). The game is pretty simple; there aren’t any complex skill trees, there are only three classes—Paladin, Mage, and Rogue—and each class has a basic melee and basic ranged attack that each do about the same amount of base damage for all three classes. However, there are items to collect and customize, passive abilities to level up, special attacks to choose between, and even a story, albeit generic and kind of nonsensical.
When you begin, you choose your class and can customize your character’s appearance to a certain extent. Male characters can only be Paladins or Rogues, and females can only be Rogues or Mages—a bit needlessly restrictive in my opinion. Was it really that hard to add a couple of extra character models?
Anyway, as I was saying, after you create your character you jump right into the “tutorial”. This takes place on a rickety ship sailing from an undisclosed place through a storm. You defend the ship and it’s unhelpful crew of two—the captain and a parrot—against a flotilla of swarthy goblin pirates, some flying eyeballs, and a giant octopus. Then you crash-land…somewhere, suddenly the storm is gone, and your ship is in ruins. So you do the one thing that comes naturally to any adventurer—disregard useless shipmates, acquire currency (and also shiny trinkets, wolf pelts, and comically large swords).
Then there’s something about some lizard guys being evicted from a castle, grave-robbing dogs, and some dude who turns himself into a giant blob monster for some reason. I’m not sure how they’re all related exactly, but I know they’re probably bad because some distressed villagers told me to go kill them—and an adventurer always does what a distressed villager tells them to do.
Briefly mentioning the social aspect, you’ll see other players running around from time to time. You can group with them and do quests and stuff. Honestly, though, I didn’t try this part of the game because none of my friends had time to play with me and I’m kind of anti-social when it comes to meeting people in multiplayer games. My apologies. Moving on…
As I said before, you get a basic melee and basic ranged attack despite your class. Combat happens by clicking on an enemy or in a direction and the game automatically switches between melee and ranged based on where you are in relation to your enemies. Your special attacks come from weapons and armor you pick up. They switch to and from your attack bar automatically with your gear. You can use them only if you have enough mana, and you gain mana by successfully hitting enemies with your basic attacks.
In addition to the special abilities that come with the items, you can create charms to socket onto your gear for customization. The charms are made by combining random materials that drop from enemies and help boost your health, attack, chance to find items, etc. Most items have three slots in which to place a charm. You can also “enhance” your weapons and armor by paying a certain amount of gold and dragonore.
Which brings me to the in-game monetary system. You have gold first and foremost. Gold comes from slain enemies and chests hidden in dungeons. You use gold to buy everything from weapons and armor to mounts to skill upgrades to item enhancements. There are also gems which are obtained by hiring a miner to mine dragonore while you’re out adventuring. You can only hire one miner at a time unless you have Blue Mammoth Idols. These can only be acquired by purchasing them with real money.
The Mammoth Idols are also used to buy other in-game “conveniences” which I mentioned earlier. These include extra character slots, exclusive pets and mounts, double XP gain for a week, and expansions to mine more dragonore per minute, among others. The conversion is pretty steep at only 50 Idols for three dollars. This makes the cheapest mount, for example, six dollars, and honestly it doesn’t seem to gain you much benefit beyond looking like a person who paid six dollars for an imaginary horse. You can buy a low-tier mount with gold instead, but with all the other things you need gold for, I’d advise saving it to upgrade your weapons or something. The game is certainly playable without a mount and pet and the other extra stuff, if a bit slow.
Besides being slow, Dungeon Blitz also feels like it was a bit rushed. The enemies’ AI is pretty laughable a lot of the time—close-range mobs will often stand below or above you, where you’re just out of their reach, instead of just walking over to the stairs to go murder you. Sometimes mobs will wig out and get stuck in doorways or inexplicably float up to another platform, and sometimes they’ll just run in a loop through a room, back out, and in the other side again.
All-in-all, though, I’m impressed by Dungeon Blitz. Granted it isn’t spectacular on its own. It’s slow-going, the story is generic, the combat is almost over-simplified, and it feels kind of buggy. However, it’s also free, so I can’t say it isn’t worth a try. It’s a colorful browser game with varied environments that you can play for a few minutes at a time if you like, has enough depth to keep a semi-hardcore (mediumcore?) gamer content, but not enough to scare away the more casual players. It’s got humor and internet memes sprinkled in for good measure, and some of the music is pretty catchy, too (although some of it gets quite repetitive). It tries to be exactly what it is, and I respect that.
Dungeon Blitz also gives me hope that free-to-play browser-based games are starting to go in a new direction. Maybe someday we’ll be playing games like Mass Effect or World of Warcraft as freemium browser games. How exciting is that?