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Dungeon Drafters blends the old and the new for an innovative turn-based experience

Dungeon Drafters screenshot
Image: Manalith Studios

Even though it keeps kicking our butt, we can’t help but be constantly drawn back to Dungeon Drafters, a card-based roguelike dungeon crawler from Manalith Studios. Complete with turn-based combat and a cosy pixel style, it evokes the feeling of a classic RPG but with some very modern ideas.

Taking on the role of a young adventurer, Dungeon Drafters throws you into a mysterious world. After making your way through some basic introductory battles, you’ll find yourself in a town of sorts. Here, you’ll be able to spend your hard-earned coins on upgrades like new cards, and you’ll also be able to check out anything you you gathered from your last run.

Being a roguelike, you’ll find yourself back here after every dungeon you’ve entered, whether you fall part-way through or successfully make it to the end. Obviously, succeeding will net you more rewards. But you won’t come out empty-handed even if you do get defeated, which is always a boon. Strengthening your hand with better cards can make all the difference next time around.

Dungeon Drafters screenshot
Image: Manalith Studios

We particularly like that there’s no one linear path through Dungeon Drafters. At any one time, you’ll have a selection of dungeons to enter. And so if one in particular is proving to be tricky, you can jump into another in the meantime. You can even replay a dungeon you’ve previously mastered just to gather coins and resources, bolstering your position when you attempt a new one.

Related: The best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5

It’s the combination of card-based battles and classic turn-based combat that really makes Dungeon Drafters stand out for us. You’ll need to consider things like your position (and that of your enemies’), and you’ll only have so much ‘energy’ to use in a turn, with cards and movement both costing energy. Not all cards are attacks: some will buff you, or debuff your enemies. You can even use cards to switch your position, or alter certain things in the environment.

Having good cards in your hand will make all the difference, and so Dungeon Drafters is the type of game that gets better the more you play. Your basic hand is fine, sure, but it’s only once you’ve upgraded your collection and began to customise your deck that things begin to get much more interesting.

After its release on PC in April of last year, Dungeon Drafters is now available on consoles, and if you like the idea of card-based dungeon crawling, we can’t recommend this highly enough. Its old-school charm perfectly complements its modern sentimentalities, making for a captivating, moreish adventure. Even when you fail — which you probably will — you’ll be ready and raring to jump back into a dungeon and try it all over again.

Dungeon Drafters is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.