During GDC I had a chance to spend some time over at Paradox Interactive's loft apartment, hanging out with various developers of upcoming downloadable PC/Mac games.
One of the games that impressed me quite a bit despite its early pre-Alpha build was Dungeonland, presented to me by the Brazilian developers of Critical Studios. I sat down with the guys behind this colorful and fun Gauntlet-style game for a lengthy hands-on, and came away rather impressed.
Dungeonland (PC [previewed], Mac)
Developer: Critical Studios
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: TBA 2012
Dungeonland takes much of its basic gameplay mechanisms from classic hack'n'slash arcade games like Gauntlet, supporting a top-down isometric view of your characters as they battle their way through a colorful theme park that has been built by the Evil Lord Dungeon Master for the sole purpose of giving heroes something to do on their downtime.
The game features a total of three huge, colorful themed maps with randomized locations, enemies and loot so that no two experiences are the same. I played through a map that felt very much like wandering around inside of a brightly colored theme park, attacking enemies that were both adorable and vicious. The art design of the enemies is purposefully cute and cuddly, though their deaths are emphasized by a splattering of blood all over the playing field.
In the regular co-op mode, up to three players can join a game, with drop-in/drop-out gameplay in the same vein as Left 4 Dead, and the game has a heavy emphasis on teamwork as the difficulty level can be very high if you're not properly helping your team out. One instance of this sort of gameplay came through the mage class of player that one of the developers chose to use, who could effectively make teammates invulnerable with a Team Fortress 2-style beam of light while the player attacked large enemies or groups of smaller ones.
Beyond the normal co-op mode, I was told there is also an "Infinite Dungeon" mode that continues to throw harder enemies and varied loot at you through an infinite amount of randomized dungeons. Additionally, there's the "Dungeon Master" mode where one player among a total of four gets to be the Dungeon Master and strategically chooses the enemies and loot to throw at the other three players.
During my playtime, I played as both the Rogue and Warrior class of characters. I noticed a bit of difference between each, as the Rogue class is best used when keeping a distance from the enemies while throwing daggers or bombs at them. In contrast, the Warrior class is all about charging in and trying to do as much damage as possible before retreat.
The experience was quite fun with other players, as the developers goaded me on about my propensity to viciously kill harmless sheep (They could turn evil at any moment, right?), and later helped me take down harder enemies by granting me invulnerability from afar as I rushed into battle.
Though no plans have been made to carry this game over to consoles (possibly due to complications arising from using a more computer-friendly Dungeon Master mode), I played it using an Xbox 360 controller and could easily see at least the main co-op gameplay translating well to consoles.
Keep Dungeonland on your radar, as it may turn out to be a rather fun co-operative multiplayer experience.