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Pixel Dungeon - Roguelike befrends Android

What is Pixel Dungeon ? From official site:
Pixel Dungeon is a traditional roguelike game with pixel-art graphics and simple interface for Android. Explore the depths of Pixel Dungeon, collect useful items, fight fierce monsters to find Amulet of Yendor (surprise!) - the ultimate artifact of this game world. This is a beta and it's going to stay beta long enough, but it's fully playable. For now there're 15 levels and I'm going to add 5-10 more levels with new monsters and items in future releases.

What is Beta? From Wikipedia:
Beta, named after the second letter of the Greek alphabet, is the software development phase following alpha. It generally begins when the software is feature complete. Software in the beta phase will generally have many more bugs in it than completed software, as well as speed/performance issues. The focus of beta testing is reducing impacts to users, often incorporating usability testing. The process of delivering a beta version to the users is called beta release and this is typically the first time that the software is available outside of the organization that developed it.

URL - http://pixeldungeon.watabou.ru/
Platform - Android 2.2+
Manufacturer - Watabou
Gameplay - Single-player, Roguelike

A little bit of disclaimer: My first language is not English, so please excuse my grammar and/or stylistic mistakes. Please feel free to correct and/or comment on the next below. Thank you for understanding. Enjoy!

First, let me list key features of Pixel Dungeon (PD later on) and later on I will get through each one of them in detail.

Pixel-art graphics

Permanent death


Simple touch interface

Hostile encounters




The graphics.
The art style selected in Pixel Dungeon is really great. It is simple enough to please the eye, and yet detailed enough to deliver depth in storytelling. Pixels and colors blend together to show you a journey of an adventurer, venturing deep in the inside the dungeon to uncover the amulet or meet his doom trying. That vibrant picture is often interrupted by the appearance of monsters, traps, ladders and secret doors. While doors generally lead you to loot or more of the dungeon to explore, monsters and traps usually act more of the opposite, interrupting your journey in the spot.

The death.
Hunger should not be neglected, for it is a number one cause of death amongst young adventurers in Pixel Dungeon. Monsters and Traps are there to stop your search for amulet. To put it simple - kill you. And after you die, you start a new game. No saves and no loads.
While you can use tactics on monsters, you will have to pray that there is water nearby after setting off fire trap, or that the poison trap was there for so long, that venom lost it's full potency. Those are only two of many traps present in Pixel Dungeon. Monsters will try to chew through your armor at every encounter - be sure to gather up some gear before venturing deeper. When hit points are few, quaff a Healing Potion, but be careful, what was a Healing Potion in one game, might be Potion of Liquid Flame in the other.

The randomness.
Dungeon layouts in PD are randomly generated upon player entering a level. Rooms are scattered and are connected with doors, sometimes that are hidden, and sometimes requiring a key to open them. Locked doors tend to have rewards waiting for player who went through the trouble to get the matching key. Item names and content are also randomized at the start of new game. It might be a good idea to drink unknown potions standing knee deep in water or have a exit in a line of sight. Chests can be found in rooms, containing random items or just coins.

The interface.
If you ever tried a computer roguelike before, you must know the complexity of controls utilized in roguelike games. Most of them are using whole keyboard. Some use mouse and keyboard. So how can you make something as complex as that on a touchscreen device with a small screen and no external keyboard ? Ask Watabou - he managed to pull it off perfectly, not only functionality wise, but also aesthetically too. Screen is uncluttered, everything is intuitively comprehensible and responsive to a surprising degree. Pixel Dungeon even incorporates pinch-to-zoom in/out feature. Simply AMAZING!

The hostilities.
More often than not, players will have to kill creatures to make any headway. While monsters don't really have any tactics, they vary in strengths and weaknesses. Marsupial Rat is the easiest and probably most common monster encountered in Pixel Dungeon. While it is weak, it might still score a critical hit on the player. And even loss of one hit point sometimes result in death and starting over. Monsters vary with dungeon depth, as skeletons start to appear and more intelligent Gnoll Shamans will cast lightning bolt at player from safer distance. Vampire bats will leech life and spinners will poison - be sure to know when to retreat and don't forget to use EVERYTHING at your disposal to survive. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE.

The gear.
There is plenty of gear to choose from in the course of the game session. What player can wear is limited to armor, weapon, two rings and a quick-slot for ranged weapons or wands. Equipping armor and weapons requires certain amount of strength to be met, otherwise, wearing gear that you are too weak to wield properly will result in penalties. Scrolls, wands, food and potions can be used from inventory screen - with no need in equipping them before use. Equipment you are not fond of or just got obsolete in the course of exploring the dungeon can be sold to a shopkeeper.

The shop.
Every five levels of Pixel Dungeon player will encounter a boss. It is a single unique monster with special tactics and abilities to make previous levels and monsters a walk in the park. The entrance to the next level will be locked behind a metal door, and only defeating the boss will grant you the key to open it. After opening that door and going to the level below you will encounter your very first shopkeeper. That man will overcharge you for goods and buy yours (even if at discounted price), but sometimes you are too desperate, and beggars can't be choosers.

The progress.
For every monster you kill, you get a bit of experience. After set amount of experience you gain a level up. Level up grants you more hit points and more accurate your attacks are, plus you increase chances to move out of the way of enemy attacks. But there more experienced you become, the more experience is required for next level. So staying at lower levels and fighting monsters to buff up for the boss might sound like a good idea, but chances are - you will starve to death sooner than you achieve this goal.

The conclusion.
Pixel Dungeon is hard and unforgiving. Unless you like roguelike games, I would not recommend it. People seem to be endlessly complaining that it is too hard. I think Watabou is giving in to this, and he already made an item that will grant you second life - with it's limitations of course. I only got to level 14 on my best run. Still no idea who is the third boss, but to me, it does not matter. To me - the adventure is what counts. I intentionally neglected to mention few things about PD - let it be a surprise for you, if you decide to give it a shot.

Pixel Dungeon is FREE on Google.Play and is developed by one man in his spare time. He does accept donations through PayPal and if you feel like it - donate.
Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoyed it! Don't be shy and leave a comment!
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About nekoryuone of us since 2:12 AM on 02.24.2012

Male in late twenties, living in armpits of Europe. As cheerful as ever.