These days, game heroes sling around the word "dungeon" like it means nothing. "Oh, I'm just going down the lane a bit to check out that new dungeon," they say even though they typically wind up exploring a room that has three storeys. Four, tops.
DungeonUp, on the other hand, doesn't mess around. This roguelike puzzle / adventure hybrid flaunts the "Dungeon" in its name.
You start from the bottom of a pit of despair, and you have to endure a long, dangerous climb if you ever want to see sunlight again.
DungeonUp lets you play as a hapless hero who appears at the gates of a dwarf fortress to warn them of an evil buried in their midst.
The dwarfs, being dwarfs, think you're after their treasure and lock you up deep in their dungeon. How deep? Well, let's just say your cell doesn't have a window.
A rogue busts you out, but from there, you're largely on your own. There are fifty levels to climb, and each one presents a mess of enemies as well as doors, doors, doors.
There are keys to these doors, but collecting them is often a perilous task because they're well-guarded. Monsters are everywhere on every floor of DungeonUp, and they block your path to progress and power-ups.
You engage enemies automatically when you press against them. Might makes right in these encounters, which is why you should pick up items to boost your power, defence, and hit points whenever possible.
If you fail, you're knocked back down to level 50, and you lose everything you collected save for rare multi-purpose soul stones.
Look before you leap (to stab that zombie in the eye)
DungeonUp is the kind of game that demands you think about every move carefully if you want to survive.
Certain enemies will make mincemeat out of you if you get over-confident. You need to constantly make decisions like, "Do I fight three slimes to reach that blue gem? Or should I go up against the skeleton? Or should I spend a key and avoid a fight altogether?"
Keys are your life blood in DungeonUp. They're everywhere, but it's amazing how fast your stockpile dwindles to nothing if you don't replenish it. If you run out, you may find yourself in big trouble.
Thankfully, DungeonUp's casual mode gives you a key after a minute if you run out. The wait is annoying, but it's also a good way to make sure you still adhere to a strategy when you play.
DungeonUp carries a strong sword, but that sword has a couple of notable nicks. For one, the action is hard to control on a small-screened device.
The game's developer warns DungeonUp isn't meant to be played on devices with screens smaller than 4.5 inches, but really, why make it downloadable for phones in the first place?
It's still perfectly possible to play on a phone. Just move carefully. Luckily, this is the kind of game where you move at your own pace.
Second, losing everything but soul stones upon death feels kind of miserable. DungeonUp is the kind of game that could really benefit from a sense of progress.
For instance, passive stat-boosting items bought with soul stones disappear along with everything else once you die. How come?
Flaws aside, DungeonUp is ultimately a good adventure game to pass a little time with. Think of it as paying a small fee to attempt the most epic stair climb of your life.