Guild of Dungeoneering Review
Guild of Dungeoneering places you in the position of a guild manager in a hand-drawn world – it’s up to you to woo new recruits, build up a massive base of operations filled with adventurers and buffs, and use your powerful team (one at a time) to head out into myriad quest-based dungeon delves.
The concept behind Guild of Dungeoneering – a card-based, build-it-yourself dungeon crawl – is solid. It is a modern roguelite that features continual progression, even in the face of certain doom. You load up on gold from dungeon to dungeon, then use it to unlock new items, buffs, and dungeoneers. Linear progression spurred on by continual dungeon runs is the game’s weakness; while you have options for light strategy in the form of selecting the right class to tackle each dungeon’s unique challenges, for a DIY dungeon crawl the title feels lacking because most of the time you’re simply going through the motions without a sense of victory or accomplishment.
You unlock more powerful classes and gear by throwing your gold at them, and you eventually just get those resources by throwing yourself into dungeons over and over, win or lose. While this may be the underlying truth in many RPGs, it’s not flavored up here to the status of a palatable meal. The action stagnates quickly, even though you’re always unlocking and gaining access to new tools.
Everything in Guild of Dungeoneering comes down to cards. You draw a new hand of five each turn, which can include dungeon “puzzle pieces” like room tiles, monsters, and treasure, and lay them down to create the crawl. Players build their own routes to critical locations in each dungeon map through corridor and room tiles, connecting them together to form dungeons as large or small as the player deems necessary. If there’s a particularly challenging boss in a level, you may want to build it out, stuffing it with various treasures and minions in order to get strong enough before taking on the challenge. You’re placing everything outside of a few setpieces that generally make up the critical goals for each dungeon quest, from monsters to treasure. While you don’t control your adventurer directly, it’s easy to “motivate” their dungeon movements by controlling the flow of rooms and rewards.
Guild of Dungeoneering’s combat is turn-based simplicity, and like the rest of the game, remarkably accessible for the dungeon-crawling genre. Each round you play one card from your deck (made up of both your class cards and any gear you may have equipped) and try to foil your enemy’s plays and plans. Various other effects or “rules” can come into consideration as you romp about magic fountains or engage specific styles of enemies, like fire elementals that burn both combatants each turn.
Guild of Dungeoneering is a neat little romp, but the novelty wears off quickly as you fall into the progression loop. If you’re looking for a bite-sized dungeon crawl, Guild of Dungeoneering delivers – but don’t expect a lofty foray into the realms of exploration, customization, or strategy.