You’re going to fail in Desktop Dungeons Rewind. A lot. In fact, you might fail more than you’ve ever failed before. But we’re fairly confident that you’ll keep coming back.
It’s not that Desktop Dungeons Rewind is hard to play. On the contrary, it has some of the simplest mechanics you’ll ever come across in a dungeon crawler. Simply click a square, and your hero will move to it. Click on an enemy, and you’ll attack them. But as easy as this revitalised classic is to pick up, it’s absolutely fiendish to master. You’ll need to constantly keep your wits about you and have a strategic mind if you want to succeed.
No dungeon in Desktop Dungeons Rewind is massive, but you’ll only uncover tiles as you move around. Enemies will occasionally block your path, and so you’ll need to defeat them before you can move past them. You’ll always start at level one, gaining experience and levelling up as you progress. Enemies have levels too, and to begin with, you’re only going to want to take on enemies that match your enemy level – otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself at a grizzly end.
You have two meters to pay attention to: your health and your mana. Health depletes each time you take a hit from an enemy, and you’ll need to use mana every time you unleash a magic attack – they can be key to defeating particularly tough enemies. Both meters replenish themselves as you uncover new tiles of the map, and you’ll also heal to full health (and mana) each time you level up. You’ll also likely have a limited amount of potions at your disposal.
And so, the key to getting good at Desktop Dungeons Rewind is to carefully move around the map, taking down enemies at your own level in order to gain experience without uncovering too many tiles. After all, you want to ensure you’ve got tiles still to reveal when you desperately need to heal. It means that starting off a map is very easy, but as you get closer to its end, it becomes fiendishly tricky.
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There are more complex mechanics to get your head around in Desktop Dungeons Rewind, too. There are gods that you can pay homage to in order to access useful power-ups and abilities, and various items that you can pay for with coins. But being more powerful isn’t always the key to being successful. Sometimes you simply need to have a good strategy – and enough mana – to overcome a boss despite being several levels lower than it.
Each time you fail, then, is a lesson in what not to do. There’s always an element of chance here, too: levels in Desktop Dungeons Rewind are never the same (unless you’re playing one of the puzzle levels – more on those shortly) so you’re never going to be quite sure what awaits. The abilities you gather during a level might not always be the same, and the dungeon layout and placement of monsters will vary, too. It means that even if you need to play one level 20, 30, 40 times before you finally beat it, it never feels too repetitive.
Completing a dungeon nets you coins, which can be used to upgrade your home town in Desktop Dungeons Rewind. By building or upgrading new facilities, you’ll gain access to new character classes and abilities, making your adventures even more varied. Different character classes have their own special abilities, and while you’ll only have access to a few early on, you’ll eventually have dozens – if you ever manage to get that far, of course.
From your home base, you can also access those puzzle levels: these are specially-designed dungeons that must be solved in a certain way. They start off fairly easy, but the further you progress, the trickier they become. Because they need to be approached in a particular way, they’re a great way of getting to grips with the different mechanics at play in Desktop Dungeons Rewind, and the ideal way to hone your skills.
From the main menu, there’s also a daily dungeon you can jump into, which sees you take on a specific challenge each day. There, you’ll play as a set character class in a particular dungeon, seeing how far you can get. You’ll be given a score, which in turn will grant you a place on a daily leaderboard as a way to challenge other players. It’s a nice reason to keep jumping into the game, as you can be done with one run in a matter of minutes.
There’s a surprising amount of content in Desktop Dungeons Rewind and, despite its simple appearance, this is a devilishly fiendish beast that we can’t get enough of. It’s not your typical dungeon crawler by any means, but its easy-to-pick-up yet hard to master gameplay will keep us coming back time and time again.