Popup Dungeon is more than just a dungeon crawler. It gives you the freedom to create your own heroes, enemies, game modes and so, so much more. Apparently.
In all honesty, I’ve dabbled briefly with Popup Dungeon‘s creation modes and, as powerful as they seemed, once I discovered I could download user-created dungeoneers, there was no stopping me.
Five minutes later, I was leading Shrek, Spongebob Squarepants and Mass Effect‘s Commander Shepard through a dungeon labyrinth. Who needs creativity when you can yell “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY SWAMP?” at a Kobold?
But it’s not just the optional copyrighted-infringing adventurers that makes Popup Dungeon so appealing. It emulates the tactile joy of turn-based monster-bashing board games such as Hero Quest, right down to action cards and little paper figures representing your characters and foes. But it takes things a step further, generating the dungeon as you go. No longer do you have the luxury of knowing the size of the room you’re about to enter; tiles and enemies materalise the moment you open the door.
As someone who grew up on Hero Quest and Space Crusade, playing Popup Dungeon was like stepping back in time. I had the urge to put my hand through the screen and pick up one of the figures, twisting and turning it to admire the detail. Even the between game screens look like you’re sitting at a table, complete with a virtual dice (though that doesn’t figure into the main dungeon levels). To be truly authentic, Popup Dungeon should randomly lose one of the characters down the sofa. Sadly, you can’t have everything.
Nostalgia factor aside, Popup Dungeon is an excellent dungeon crawler in its own right. The game goes easy on you at first, but the further you delve into each level of the Wizard’s tower, the less certain you become of victory. Popup Dungeon has all the complexities of a regular Dungeons & Dragons hack ’em up: rock, paper scissors style vulnerabilities, chargeable attacks, reactive attacks and much more.
It’s also pleasingly silly, with characters as such as the Cat Knight who, when endangered, will leap into the air and land several squares away; a situation that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to give a cat a pill. And, if for some bizarre reason you don’t want to play as Big Chungus, One Punch Man or Sonic the Hedgehog, there’s a wealth of D&D-style characters as well.
Whether you choose to tackle existing dungeons or even whip up your own Dungeon Keeper-style game where you control the monsters is entirely up to you, but there’s so much to dive into here. I don’t know if Popup Dungeon is Commander Shepard’s favourite dungeon crawler on the citadel but, right now, it’s at the top of my list.