Fight, die, upgrade, try again.
It’s a tried-and-tested gameplay loop that many games have mastered, and Devious Dungeon 2 from Woblyware and Ratalaika Games is no exception. Taking up the role of a random hero, the game wastes no time by getting bogged down with a story. You don’t need to know anything except there’s a series of dungeons for you to work your way through.
If you played the first Devious Dungeon, you’ll already know what to expect. This sequel doesn’t reinvent the wheel; it simply expands on what was already there.
Starting out with a simple weapon and basic armour, you’ll tackle the first dungeon, killing foes and collecting coins, seeing how far you can get. You’ll inevitably die before long, but when you do, you’ll return to town, coin in hand. Here you can spend your spoils on a variety of upgrades to your weaponry, armour and stats. It’s a rinse-and-repeat affair, each time (hopefully) getting a little further, and earning enough gold to buy a further upgrade.
Devious Dungeon 2 isn’t anything new or extraordinary. Numerous games take on the same formula to varying degrees of success. But there’s something about Devious Dungeon 2‘s no-frills approach that makes me love it all the more. Its art style is a pleasant but basic pixelated affair that invokes memories of SNES-era platformers. Movements, attacks and obstacles you’ll face are all run of the mill. And enemy designs are nice, but there’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
And yet, I find myself enchanted by everything. The repetitive but enjoyable task of finding a key in each level, and unlocking the door to the next. The way each level is bite-sized, never posing more of a challenge than you can handle. The gratification of gaining XP, levelling up and unlocking a new upgrade to your health, damage or critical hit. It’s all so simple, but so satisfying.
There are some Rogue-lite elements to Devious Dungeon 2, in the way you fight until you die, then return to the starting point to dust yourself off and try again. But it offers a leniency not seen in the most hardcore games of the genre, making it more accessible to a wider audience. My First Rogue-lite, if you will. For starters, your upgrades and equipment are yours for good. Coins you earn carry over; there’s no losing anything you don’t spend. And after every three levels, you’ll be greeted with a checkpoint so you won’t be starting from scratch every time.