Dungeons of Dredmor

Now, here’s a game I’ve been hearing good things about lately. Dungeons of Dredmor is a roguelike. I’ve commented before about the looseness with which this term is bandied about lately, but Dredmor really means it. We’re talking not just random maps and permadeath here. Dredmor fits the classical roguelike descriptor in every way except two, those being the shuffling of item effects from game to game and the graphics made of text characters. I could imagine a character-graphics version of the game. It would wind up losing much of the UI slickness, like the tooltips, but it wouldn’t play fundamentally differently.

Other than that, it’s so roguelike that it can steal some of Nethack‘s gameplay gags. For example, there’s the Knightly Leap skill, learnable by characters who specialize in dodging. At first I couldn’t figure out how to make this work, but then I realized that it’s just like the Knight class’s #jump command in Nethack — which is to say, it only lets you jump like a knight in chess. The game doesn’t explain this, which effectively makes it into a puzzle, albeit one that’s easier for people who have played other roguelikes. And that seems to be a major factor in the game as a whole. At least at the early stages, it’s not so much about fighting monsters as exploring your options and figuring out what’s possible.

The thing is, after investing a few hours into a game, I’ve become reluctant to try things that might be unsafe. I should note that the permadeath is optional: when you start a game, you get a menu of difficulty settings and other options, prominently including a big checkbox for permadeath. But it’s checked by default, and besides, as an experienced player of roguelikes, it just seems proper to me. But I’m not even talking just about death. This is a game with a major crafting element, with recipes for potions and armor and whatnot learnable from bookshelves you find in the dungeon. I’ve started finding equipment recipes that require items I’ve previously found and wasted, either by consuming them to find out what they do (some of the more exotic magic items take potions as ingredients), or by selling them to shops. So now I’m reluctant to throw anything out in case I find a use for it later. But your inventory is painfully limited — the block of slots looks nicely large when you first see it, but you can easily fill up entire rows just with different kinds of cheese. (And yes, cheese can be a crafting ingredient.) Crafting tools can extend your carrying capacity a little by holding items in their ingredient slots, but this is awkward when you actually want to craft something. So I’ve been spending a great deal of time just managing objects. There’s a large room on one level that I’ve made into my dump and warehouse, with items sorted by type, and I go back there whenever my inventory is full or I need to spend some time healing. If I die now, it’ll seem like wasted effort.

1 Comment so far

  1. Jason Dyer on 11 Dec 2011

    I’ve heard of people making pretty fast runs, but mine have tended to be Angband-ish (a few weeks) in length.

    I’d recommend at least one play through with permadeath off just to figure out the lay of the land because there are a few nasty surprises later that can destroy a good character without them really needing to.

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