More often than not, monsters are viewed as the bad guys! However, have you ever stopped to think that maybe we are the ones in the wrong? For years, we have been told tales of heroes slaying armies of ungodly creatures, but we never think about the impact that causes. Furthermore, we openly applaud thieving knights, assassins, and rogues as they plunder the homes of these underworld monstrosities. As such, maybe it’s time to flip the perspective and see things through the eyes of the monsters. Thankfully, this is what happens in Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Master.
Developed by Goblinz Studio and published by Klabater, this is a rogue-like experience. What’s more, it reverses the usual dungeon-crawling mechanics as you repel waves of human fighters. Moreover, there are plenty of tactical layers, and an army of monsters to hire and train, and you must consider each of your fighter’s wellbeing. Accordingly, it twists everything we know about the genre, and I loved that idea.
Legend of Keepers fails to tell a story.
Though it wasn’t required, Legend of Keepers fails to create a narrative or an in-depth plot. Instead, you are left to your own devices as you complete missions for the Dungeons Company. This hellish group demand that every human is thwarted. Moreover, they’ll offer rewards, new monsters, and traps to every successful dungeon manager.
Disappointingly, though, this is the extent of the conversation you have with your Cyclops boss. Once they set you on your way, the conversation is over. Now, this may not seem an issue, but with many missions to undertake, 3 masters to pick from, and an army of monsters to hire, a little depth would have gone a long way.
The gameplay cycle is straightforward. Each of the masters has 9 missions that they must complete. Along the way, they will hire monsters, train them up, and rest them to keep them happy. As the weeks roll on, you will face many tasks as well as contracts to protect each dungeon. If you are successful and your master survives, you will be awarded gold, traps, or monsters, and the game continues. This is the cycle until you complete every mission or you die!
Legend of Keepers leans heavily on its rogue-like elements to keep things fresh. Subsequently, death is all but assured. However, the minute rewards and minimal gains between playthroughs are somewhat underwhelming. As such, death and failure are hard to swallow. Consequently, this setback can be frustrating, especially if you haven’t unlocked all the masters.
The action opens with Maug the Slaveholder. Once you’ve played for a bit, you’ll unlock the Enchantress and the Engineer to mix things up. Yet, before that happens, you’ll study the fundamentals with the brutish Maug by your side. Each contract follows a set pattern as you follow three phases of action.
You must study your human foes and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Once you know who you are facing, you’ll place a trio of monsters to take them down. However, success is unlikely, so more tricks must be prepared to ensure success. Accordingly, you’ll use traps, magic, and a second wave of monsters to thwart the humans. However, if this planning fails, the trio of humans will face your master. If your master dies at this stage, the mission is over and the game ends. Consequently, you must prevent this from happening at all costs.
During the fighting elements, you’ll endure cruel turn-based combat. Here, you’ll understand whether you’ve got your tactics right as each set of characters go hell for leather to defeat one another. Whenever it is your turn, you may select from an array of attacks to either damage health or lower morale. As such, victory is achieved by either slaying your foes or making them run away.
Once the battle is over, you are awarded gold, tears or blood, and a selection of monsters or traps. These treasures help to improve your team and increase your roster of monsters. Consequently, they are essential if you wish to complete every mission.
More than just the fighting!
Legend of Keepers is brutal, but there are more layers than first meets the eye. Accordingly, you must manage your team as morale plays a big part. If any monster falls during a battle, their morale will be impacted, and they must be rested in the garrison. Therefore, you must balance your team’s needs against the risks of each fight.
On top of this, you must train each character, purchase new recruits, visit the alchemist to create resources, and much more. Additionally, you can equip artefacts to passively improve your team or hero. Therefore, there are multiple tactical layers to this excellent and unusual reverse dungeon crawler.
Legend of Keepers is a cruel pixelated experience.
The gameplay mechanics may seem convoluted and confusing. However, the graphics are anything but. Thanks to the simple pixelated finish and the fixed-screen approach, you can’t go wrong. Moreover, the combat animation is fantastic, and the decapitations are brutal. As such, I adored this retro-looking title. On top of this, the excellent UI and basic menu system make it easy to play.
The old-school approach continues with the gruff audio. Aggressive tunes, simple sound effects, and minimalistic soundbites dominate proceedings. Accordingly, it will remind you of the SNES and Mega Drive era of gaming.
Gruesome action that is easy to execute.
With so many tactical layers, you’d be understandably concerned about Legend of Keepers’ approach. However, it is remarkably simple to play, as the UI is easy to understand. Furthermore, an excellent tutorial talks you through the fundamentals and that improves things further. On top of this, the fantastic layout and responsive controls ensure that you’ll master this in no time at all.
Rogue-like games ooze replay value and longevity. However, I found this to be tough to stomach. Unfortunately, there is minimal gain between playthroughs, and this stagnates your process. Moreover, until you unlock the additional heroes, it can be repetitive. Yet, once you wade through these issues, you’ll enjoy a strange but interesting dungeon crawler.
Legend of Keepers breaks the mould.
The gaming industry rarely surprises me. However, Legend of Keepers breaks the mould. Thanks to its unusual perspective shift, interesting mechanics, and cruel ways, it is a unique way to tackle the genre. Consequently, if you want to side with the monsters and try something new, then I recommend that you buy it here! Can you protect your treasure and complete your mission? Study your enemies, plan your defences, and keep your gold and your master safe.