It’s been a long time since the heyday of the isometric viewpoint in videogames. Back when I was a wee lad, classics like Batman, Head Over Heels and Solstice were everywhere. So when I loaded up Dungeon of Legends, the memories flooded back. Unfortunately, after my time with Dungeon of Legends, I wish I was playing those 8-bit classics again.
Apparently the aim of the game is to “complete” the Tower of Eternity, to earn entry into Magic School. Through over 75 levels of isometric platforming and puzzle solving, there is not even a hint of a narrative – which isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to games. However, in a game of this type, you at least expect some sort of story to add a little motivation and depth to your actions. As it stands, you start the game without any reason to keep playing, a theme that continues through all of Dungeon of Legends’ 75-plus rooms.
In this adventure, you simple have to navigate past some sort of trap to get to the next room. Sadly, each room is pretty much the same in terms of “puzzles”: Hit a lever, avoid floor spikes, jump across moving platforms, avoid touching enemies and traps. Repeat that for every room in the game. It’s far removed from what you’d call a puzzler and more of an uninspired isometric platformer. I would have killed for something other to do; like maybe killing someone (or something?). There are enemies there, but you just have to walk past them as they patrol their path, completely ignoring you.
For a game that features so much jumping between moving platforms, it’s incredibly frustrating that DoL’s on-screen controls are so fiddly, with its isometric viewpoint not helping matters either. 90% of your deaths will be due to the controls; although it doesn’t really matter as dying goes unpunished. While the game keeps track of how many times you’ve died (and hearts found in chests will reduce this “score”), a death will just plonk you back where you entered the room. It’s just not challenging in the slightest, with bad game design being the only obstacle in your way.
To add insult to injury, the game is unfinished or terribly glitchy. After about an hour of playtime, I entered a building only to be taken back to the game’s title screen. I resumed the game, only to experience the same thing upon re-entering the building. There was no indication from the game that I had finished it, or that there was still something to do. It simply ended, without any sort of payback for the hour of dull platforming I had put myself through.
The only positive words I can say about this game is that the graphics and audio are actually pretty good. The polygonal models and environments look decent (although lacking variety), while the music is surprisingly good, providing a real sense of atmosphere to an otherwise utterly uninspiring game.
VERDICT: At first glance, Dungeon of Legends looks like a throwback to the classic isometric adventures of yesterday. Decent sound and visuals at least indicate there was some thought put into its development, but it doesn’t make up for the complete lack of substance in terms of gameplay.
Sadly, this is just a deathly-dull isometric platformer that promises more than it delivers and isn’t worth the hour it took me to “finish” the game, let around the £1.99 it’ll cost you for the privilege. One to avoid.
POOR. Games tagged 4/10 will be playable, perhaps even enjoyable, but will be let down by a slew of negative elements that undermine their quality and value. Best avoided by any but hardcore genre fans.