ReviewsReview: Dungeon Escape

Review: Dungeon Escape

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Oh, how I love and loathe hardcore platform games in equal measure. The gameplay is oddly addictive and there is a sense of achievement once you overcome each obstacle. The sense of rage and frustration is off the scale and the highs and lows make this genre so popular. Dungeon Escape is a difficult platform game that attempts to replicate the style and danger found in Super Meat Boy.

Developed by Roenko Games and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a simple 2D retro platform title. Set across fifty increasingly difficult stages, you must control a small yellow creature who needs to escape his captors while trying to find freedom.

So many circular saws.

Dungeon Escape is addictive and simple.

There is nothing complex about Dungeon Escape! The game focuses on escaping each of the levels by finding a key and unlocking the exit. As you try to collect the key you must gather coins, avoid or kill your captors, and leap over spikes. There is also the matter of circular saws to avoid, so best of luck staying alive.

The fixed-screen perspective allows you to work out your plan of attack, yet mistakes are all but guaranteed. Tight spaces and specific routes must be traversed to be successful. One wrong move and you’ll be sliced by a blade or impaled on spikes. It’s brutally difficult but its simplicity makes it super addictive and you’ll struggle to put it down.

Lava and traps!

The solution isn’t always obvious.

What I particularly enjoyed was how quickly it lulled you into a false sense of security. Stages appeared simple and collecting the key looked easy, but it was rarely straightforward. You’d take a route, kill your foes, collect the coins, but could not get to the exit without dying. You spawn in, try again, and fail repeatedly. It was gloriously annoying and will keep hardcore platform enthusiasts entertained for hours.

Unlike many of its peers, Dungeon Escape has kept the mechanics extremely basic. With two actions at your disposal, you can single or double jump. There are no power-ups, wall climbing or sliding, and enemies can only be attacked by jumping on their heads. Its simplicity personified and allows you to focus on the aim of the game rather than a complex approach.

I also enjoyed the drip-feeding of new enemies and sneaky mechanics that increased the difficulty of each level. No longer will you look at still spikes and stationery circular blades. No, shards fall from the ceiling or leap from the ground, and blades fly. It was madness and made a slow-paced title much faster and tested your reactions at the same time.

A minimalistic look gives Dungeon Escape an old-school vibe.

With gaudy colours, simple lines, and basic sprites, this won’t be considered graphically advanced. The fixed-screen 2D perspective is both basic and retro in style. The blocky traps give you the impression of the obstacles rather than a detailed image. These are not negative observations as I adored the nod to the old-school platform genre. I admit it took a while to get used to it on a large screen, but once you adjust, you’ll love every minute.

Keeping with the retro theme, the developers used a synthesised 80s inspired soundtrack and basic sound effects. The music choice was bizarre as it didn’t match the theme. Though there was a sense of urgency to the gameplay, there were no time constraints or punishments for taking your time. I wish the audio reflected this by blending slower more mellow tracks with the upbeat eclectic songs already incorporated.

Escape your captors.

Simple to pick up, infuriating to master.

Jump, move, and unlock a door. What could be easier? Dungeon Escape isn’t about complicated actions, instead, it wants you to focus on precision. Luckily the movement is tight and accurate, meaning only your lack of skill will prevent you from being victorious. Like Super Meat Boy, you know what you need to do, but a lack of finesse and planning will prevent you from success.

Successful or not, you will want to keep playing this. You will die repeatedly, losing your composure as you do. You will take some deep breaths, focus your mind and try again. The addictive nature of the gameplay will keep you entertained for hours and though the achievement list isn’t challenging to complete, each of the fifty levels is. It’s an inexpensive game, and it has hours of gameplay, so it’s great value for money.

Dungeon Escape will make you roar with rage.

I have to be in the right frame of mind to play a hardcore game, and fortunately, Dungeon Escape caught me at the right time. Its horrific ways made me roar with rage and brought a wry smile to my face. The basic approach and minimalist graphics should be admired as should its old-school vibes. It’s not as difficult as some of its peers, but it offers an extreme challenge that’ll scratch your brutal desires. Fans of the genre need this, so buy it here! Avoid the traps, kill your captors, collect the coins, and make it to the exit! 

SUMMARY

Dungeon Escape will test your patience, precision, and ability to plan. Simple to pick up but agonisingly challenging to play. Its simple approach screams old-school and its difficulty will test veterans of the genre.

+ Minimalist approach.
+ Lots of replay value.
+ Easy achievements.
+ Addictive gameplay.
- The audio required more variety.

(Reviewed on the Xbox series X. Also available on PC, Android, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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