hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Dungeon Hearts

Review: Dungeon Hearts

2:00 PM on 04.05.2013 // Allistair Pinsof

This heart is on fire

Dungeon Hearts is a match-3 game, yet that observation didn't solidify until I sat down to write this review. From music to mechanics, Dungeon Hearts is so ingrained in traditional Japanese role-playing games (think Final Fantasy IV) that it's easy to look past its more conventional trappings, especially since it does such a clever job of dressing them up.

Much like Square's own Theatrhythm, Dungeon Hearts looks like an RPG but walks like something else. Instead of a rhythm game, a puzzler. But the greatest difference between these two titles is how developer Cube Roots' genre worship goes beyond surface level, resulting in something special and very addictive.

Dungeon Hearts (PC [reviewed], iPad)
Developer: Cube Root
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Released: March 28, 2013
MSRP: $2.99
Rig: Intel i5-2500k @3.30 GHz, 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 580 GPU

Like the most basic of Final Fantasy entries, Dungeon Hearts puts the player in control of four: A warrior, a white mage, a dark mage, and an archer. Each character has hit points, mana, and levels up, acquiring up to three spells that fall in line with their class. Instead of repeatedly clicking "Fight" in a semi-zombified state, the player must frantically drag icons across the screen in a mad dash to deal damage before damage is received. After a couple matches, the puzzle elements become a natural extension of the menu navigation you find in Final Fantasy encounters.

Instead of taking turns, Dungeon Hearts battles play in real time and occasionally "Oh God, stop going so fast!"-time. Once a difficulty is selected, a new, randomly generated game is set before the player. It's not exactly a roguelike, but having a different assortment of the 47 enemies each time keeps the game fresh after repeat plays. There are no towns or field map; it's war all the time in Dungeon Hearts. Even leveling your characters is a battle of sorts, as the player must quickly match three items as potential experience points literally fly away -- if you mess up on these sections, you'll find yourself on a downward slope of misery as the difficulty goes sky high.

Once engaged with an enemy, shapes of different sizes and four different colors (correlating with your heroes) slide from the right side of the screen (the enemy) to the left (you're party) in one of the four rows your heroes occupy -- and, yes, they did screw up! If harmful icons manage to arrive at your party's side, damage/ailments will be done. To prevent that, the player must match three icons of the same color, combining the icons into a diamond "Striker" that will clear out all harmful elements in a row. Higher level play revolves around combining Strikers and positioning them in clever ways for maximum damage (essential later on).

All the complications of a role-playing game are in Dungeon Hearts: stat buffs, ailments, combos, etc. This makes for one hell of a daunting first attempt, as the game backs up its info dumptruck and buries the player under ten tons of info sludge. Be brave because most of the different icons don't really matter and everything will fit naturally as you play the game. As long as you are quickly matching icons, positioning multiples of Strikers for increased damage, and destroying the enemy's harmful icons, everything will make sense in time.

With each game of Dungeon Hearts (which can last up to an hour, if you beat it), I found my comprehension, speed, and overall skill increasing in a way that you don't often get in an RPG. Once I reached this state, I could then analyze the RPG elements like managing party health and timing spells. Spells vary from summoning a shield to firing poision arrows. No crazy summons, but the spells do function in a way that brings to mind Final Fantasy VII's limit breaks. Each spell is its own fun little distraction that tests your accuracy, speed, and timing in different ways.

What didn't expand my enjoyment over time is the mouse controls that did more damage to my wrist than puberty. That I still had fun and worked through the discomfort, says a lot about how fun this game is and how much more fun it may be on iPad (though I've heard rumblings that the build isn't solid). As of the time of this review post, the achievements and leaderboards don't work on PC. Though it's far from a polished experience -- one game broke as I almost beat the final boss, a mighty feat -- and its controls are far from ideal (maybe a controller or keyboard controls would be better), I still recommend it on PC if you don't have an iPad.

Once a game of Dungeon Hearts is won, new soundtracks unlock (five total). This would a stick instead of a carrot if it weren't for how great of a musical score it is. Along with the graphics, the music is a clever homage to the days of SquareSoft but manages to have an identity of its own. I can extend that statement to the entire game. Dungeon Hearts takes the Final Fantasy worship that has inspired many a RPG Maker indie and does something far more inspired and enjoyable with it. On a positive note, Cube Roots has been very active on listening to feedback on social networks and even provided a noteworthy update four days after release.

Whether you are a fan of fast-paced, challenging puzzle games or an old-school RPG fan, Dungeon Hearts' charm will rub off on you. And if you are a fan of both of those things, you won't even mind its shortcomings, in time.



Dungeon Hearts - Reviewed by Allistair Pinsof
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Allistair Pinsof,
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidAllistair

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img]
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Anyone else getting massive lag in between games of the Battlefront Beta? I'm running an AMD rig so it might be that but just want to know it's not just me.
Shinta avatarShinta
1 hour stream of Dragon Quest Heroes.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Plague Knight is pretty rad, even when represented by mediocre artists [img][/img]
Shinta avatarShinta
Initial impressions: Chibi-Robo Zip lash is pretty damn fun so far. It's like Mr. Mosquito + Castlevania + Umihara. Controls are spot on, platforming is actually very solid so far, and the characters are about as charming as they can get. +amiibo.
nanashi avatarnanashi
Question: Is resident evil nemesis supposed to start off with a toolbox that has (unlimited) ink ribbon, 250 handgun ammo, magnum (w/ammo), shotgun (w/ammo) and two assault clips, in the first room of the game?????
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[img][/img] Much want. Such need. Ow.
Shinta avatarShinta
[img][/img] Can you imagine if greedy aliens stole all YOUR snacks? I don't even know how I'd handle it honestly. I don't even want to think about it.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Great. YouTube took down my nude re - enactment of She-Wolf. Again. Fuck you Shakira. Let my art shine.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
BREAKING: Inner city man and "Pokemon Go" enthusiast found dead after entering rival gang's territory. "All he wanted was a Shiny Charizard!" according to an interview with a close friend. "We found him on the street, limp as a Magikarp stuck on a beach."
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I completely forgot that Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow had an animated opening. Other than the compression, it actually looks really good today, and makes me wonder why Konami didn't commission some sort of Castlevania anime. That would have been sweet.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Gamestop has Splatoon amiibo up, if that's your thing. Totally didn't order and just cancel mine.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Anyone else having issues with italics in blogs? I went to save a draft, and when it loaded the post-saving creature I was working on, the entire text had been italicized and I now am unable to change it back. I've been possessed!
So that's $50 for the season pass on top of the game already costing sixty at launch, plus the monthly subscription fee for playing online on consoles. All in the name of getting the full experience! VYDEO_GEAMEZ!!
BroskiTheChocobo avatarBroskiTheChocobo
Why hello there. My name is Broski and I am new here so be nice. I'll be posting some content over the next few days so have a read and I hope you enjoy it. Broski out.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
tired but I gotta work. Would rather play more MGS5.
Batthink avatarBatthink
Races have been pretty intense, and the last Moto3 race in MotoGP 14 should have been too. Emphasis on the word [i]should[/i]. The AI riders ignored infringements in the last race, meaning everyone was disqualified except me. Derp.
Batthink avatarBatthink
Been playing MotoGP 14 on my Vita. A bit buggy (some menus you need to press circle to go back, then cross to select to proceed, otherwise nothing happens. And motorcycling helmets riding motorcycles in-race), but I've got the sweet spot in difficulty.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Daily VGM #21 (Witcher 1) - Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher 3) [youtube][/youtube] I think this theme does a fantastic job capturing the feel of The Witcher 3. Epic, but also somber at times.
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Sorry to shamelessly self-promote, but I wanted to share a piece that went up over the weekend with ya'll Hopefully it's an enjoyable read! [url][/url]
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
Dungeon Hearts

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -