Desktop Dungeons: Rewind review

by on April 26, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

April 18, 2023


On the very surface, Desktop Dungeons Rewind is a cute, twee little indie game that looks like it would be a barrel of laughs to play. This is a trap. Like a rack of spikes to an unprotected scrotum, it hides depths of unimaginable pain. It’s a remake of Desktop Dungeons, a top-down pain train masquerading as something nice and lovable.

Each run sees you sending a lone hero to their gruesome death in one of the surrounding dungeons. You unlock new heroes by earning gold and upgrading the buildings surrounding your central hub, and you earn gold by defeating Dungeon bosses and bringing their trophies up to a sleazy goblin fence on the surface.

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind review

What appears to be a standard Dungeon crawler at first is actually a pretty clever puzzle game. You begin each Dungeon with a set character level, and you can move wherever you can see around a grid-based environment. Each enemy also has a level and if yours is lower, you will struggle to beat them. If it’s higher, they’re no problem. You can only heal with limited potions or by clearing the fog of War and revealing new sections of the map. The game even calls it “reveal to heal”. Sounds simple enough right?

Oh, it sounds very, very simple. But each level has just enough enemies, spells, upgrades, hidden squares and potions to get you to the boss with enough bits of you still on the inside to take it down. You have spells you can use, such as fireballs and buffs, and there are weapon upgrades and semi-permanent buffs to HP and mana, all of which are randomly placed but which come in very handy.

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind review

It’s hard to explain what makes Desktop Dungeons: Rewind so tough, but it’s exactly the same thing that makes it so ridiculously playable. One wrong move can botch an entire run, but restarting is fast and so you never feel overly punished for failure. You just dust off and dive back in.

Each class plays quite differently, too. There are multiple races to unlock, but it’s the class that makes a difference. Rogues do more damage from the back, for example, while mages do more damage with magic and there are healers, tanky warriors, and various other archetypes, all of which offer their own bonuses and problems.

Outside of plugging away at the campaign there’s an adventure mode that just lets you get on with the dungeon delving, or class-specific challenge runs that are incredibly tough and restrictive in the resources they give you. I struggled with a few of these, but again it’s all down to how you manage what you’ve got. Every mission is viable with every class, you just need to think about what you’re doing. Or, y’know, snap your keyboard and go back to Animal Crossing.

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind review

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind is a good-looking game. The animated characters are colourful and cartoonish, the animations are amusing, and there’s just enough comedy in the dialogue and flavour text to not seem like it’s trying too hard. But it definitely has that self-referential 90s humour seen in things like Dungeon Keeper. If you’re not a fan of that, the constant jokes and references might rub you a little raw.

But there’s a lot to like here. It’s not an easy game by any stretch, but perseverance and planning will get you through much of what it offers. It would be an ideal game to play on a handheld like the Steam Deck, though it needs some work on the control scheme if you do. If you’re after a different, more cerebral kind of dungeoneering experience, Desktop Dungeons: Rewind might just be the adventure you’re looking for.


Looks nice
Simple concept
Lots to do


Can be frustrating
Gets a little repetetive

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

If you're after a different, more cerebral kind of dungeoneering experience, Desktop Dungeons: Rewind might just be the adventure you're looking for.