Have you ever stopped to think about how your right elbow has never been touched by your right hand?
This is just one of the many thought-provoking unanswerable questions in life you’ll be forced to ponder in Questkeep, the charming tile-based dungeon crawler from Kuyi Mobile. In this adorable roguelike, you play as Hope, the determined protagonist tasked to save the world of Questkeep by reclaiming all the lost artifacts and ridding the land of monsters to restore it to its formerly peaceful state.
What's Questkeep about?The game is ingeniously simple. All you have to do is get from the beginning tile to the “treasure chest” tile and then back again in every level, all while bumping off a handful of monstrous baddies. Every so often, you’ll come across a poor citizen who’s seemingly trapped in that dungeon level, but while I initially thought I could save them from their horrid fate, they’re actually just there to give you some friendly advice about poisonous enemies or reminisce about the glory days of Questkeep. Of course, they’ll offer you a golden nugget of wisdom here and there, like the perfect last words to utter into the world before you kick the bucket.
Hilarious NPCs and sneaky Easter eggs (there’s a Mace of Windu artifact!) aside, you can also bump into merchants who will sell you artifacts that will greatly tip the scales in your favor for your next run. Being a roguelike, Questkeep is meant to be played over and over again as you start from the beginning each time you die, but you don’t exactly start from scratch - you’ll have the option of equipping three artifacts you previously acquired either by purchasing them or by winning them when you do finish the game. There is also a level where you can recharge your health - this bonus round gives you 10 steps in a level filled with health-regenerating potions or shields in every tile.
Gameplay and controlsSpeaking of tiles, you can only move up, down, left, or right. Landing in a tile with a trap or an enemy will engage that enemy, and the number on that tile will be deducted from your total health. Landing on a shield or a potion will help you recover lost HP, while landing on a coin will earn you some money you can use to buy artifacts. Here’s the catch - tiles are randomly generated, so a tile you previously stepped on can completely change when you’re heading back the way you came. They can either be foes or boons. One particular enemy in the latter stages will always spawn with a higher attack power than your current HP, so landing on that tile is instant death - unless you somehow find a way to regain health before you encounter it.
This is where your precious artifacts come in. They can give you useful buffs from higher beginning HP to immunity to status ailments. One artifact I find particularly useful is the Bottle of Ilog Maria, which turns previously stepped tiles into flowers. This guarantees that any path you pass through won’t suddenly turn into monsters you have to fight when heading back, but this also means they won’t generate potions when you’re low on health. It’s all about strategy and it’ll all depend on your play style. Plus, I especially appreciated the name of the artifact - “Ilog Maria” has a popular reference here in the Philippines, so I’m really curious as to why the devs decided to name this artifact such.
Questkeep devsWhich brings us to the devs. I’m going to let the actual description of the game speak for itself, because I really don’t want to change its essence if I don’t quote this verbatim:
“Hello everyone! I'm a Dad and this is my first game project with my 10-year-old. School was abruptly cut early this year because of the pandemic so she had a lot of time and she keeps telling me she wants to be a game developer/designer someday so I figured why not start our own passion project and take it from there. The game is "kind of" finished but we will be adding more content (levels, bosses, etc.) as we move along.
HAPPY PLAYING! :)”
Now, I may be totally biased, but I have a soft spot for little dreamers who want to be game developers someday, so this game description alone made me instantly buy the game without a second thought, and I’m pretty happy with my decision.
Overall, Questkeep is a simple but highly engaging game that proves you don’t need overly complicated mechanics to make a hit. I honestly spent too much time replaying the thing over and over again (the final bosses change too!) just so I could collect more artifacts and marvel at my own sub-par stats without even realizing that two hours had gone by and my eyes had started to hurt.