Picture this – the world has become corrupted, overrun by evil monsters that serve a higher, more cruel, power. Within this world is a single hero, undead, and quite angry at having lost their only lover. Having had enough this nonsense, and charged by their lover to lay them to rest, the hero sets out into the heavily wooded forest alone, to fulfil their beloved’s final wish. It sounds very grand. Then imagine that this world is realised in a top-down Zelda-like style, with combat based upon Dark Souls, and no HUD to follow. Sword in hand, bit Dungeon II drags the player along for quite the journey.
As the menu boots up the initial area, the game presents zero tutorial prompts, and zero context as to how to get around. Common sense will tell most players to talk to the ghostly woman in the top right (netting an extra life, which is very important later on), before entering the weird looking tree on the left. Another unnamed ghost stands before your ghostly face, offering weapons to take in order to press through the creatures ahead. If you’ve not played the original Legend of Zelda, then this opening won’t jolt any memories or nostalgia. But it’s obvious that KintoGames look up to the LoZ, and it really shows in their style. It couldn’t be a clearer call-back if the ghost was shouting “take this, it’s dangerous to go alone”.
bit Dungeon II relies on minimalist combat, with the player only needing to occasionally block before unleashing whatever special move they have stored up within their weapon. Auto attack is done by simply walking into creatures, and your sword, axe, staff, spear or whatever, dealing damage on its own. You are able to attack, but the controls are a little awkward to use. Pressing the spacebar will block, however it will also make an attack if you’re in front of an enemy. Holding that same button for two seconds however, will also activate the special power that your weapon has.
It becomes a frantic mash up of suddenly blocking, followed by hitting everything, then blocking again. The combat has little to no learning curve, as every enemy, even bosses, are destroyed within seconds of contact. Even if you’re using magic or archery, which both are require player input and aiming, then it’s still too easy because the sheer damage output of those forms of attack is truly insane.
Dying in this game is governed by your ability to remember to pick up the blue heart at the start. If you die you lose that heart, and if you die before picking it up again, you lose it permanently and lose everything. Your levels, items, weapon, skills – all gone. It’s a good way of teaching players to be careful, however you also lose all your progress in the dungeons. Meaning you actually have to beat the entire game on a single life. While this isn’t too difficult, as all the dungeons are carbon copies of themselves, which makes the grind extremely boring.
Since this is an RPG, stats are vital. Or rather, they should be. As the hero levels up by slaying enemies, and gaining EXP, the stats that govern how much HP he has, and the weapon levels up the stat tied to it. If you use sneaky weapons, you gain more DEX, and vice versa for every other type in the game. This forces players to sit to a single weapon type, which is a tad problematic if a better one presents itself from a random drop. Stats basically become useless toward the end of the game, as nothing, literally nothing, can stop your mindless slaughter. If this was named ‘Doomguy Simulator’, it’d be a more accurate reprenstation of the final product.
Aside from the numerous, smaller, issues that plague this game, there’s several bigger ones that really ruin the overall reception. Like the bosses that can destroyed before they even make a single attack on you. A boss is supposed to be a challenge, a hurdle that the player has to overcome after learning new mechanics from the prior level, and is usually a wonderful experience. Not in this game. They’re just large mobs, with a unique look about them. Because of certain combat mechanics, once the player starts an attack using a greataxe, or greatsword, the attack will continue until the target’s HP is emptied.
Overall bit Dungeon II is hit-and-miss. It looks great, has an enthralling plot, and is fun to pick up (at first). But it fails to keep up this opening majesty, and becomes a dull slog through enemies that cannot stop you, with an adventure that is nowhere near as detailed as it could be.
bit Dungeon II – 64/100
Developer – KintoGames
Publisher – KintoGames
Genre – Action, Adventure, RPG, Indie
Release date – 15th December 2014
Website – www.kintogames.com
Written by Matt Dawson