Since first seeing the release trailer, I have been pretty eager to try out Sleeping Giant’s arcade golf come dungeon crawler Par for the Dungeon. Since seeing the protagonist golf ball, Cal, roll across the green, whip out a bow and shoot someone with an arrow, I was hooked, but can it stand up to my self-built hype?
Unfortunately, you don’t form too much of an attachment with your fluffy friend, as you are immediately beset by three of the game's baddies; Bogeys. They promptly knock you on your behind before committing that most heinous of acts, dog-napping. You then set out on a mission to retrieve your canine companion, in what can accurately be described as John Wick for kids.
At this point, you start unlocking the full potential of Cal's skills, and it is incredible fun. You will need to start carefully planning your moves to bounce around collecting coins to buy equipment, which will help you finish the course in the fewest turns to get the highest score. Why waste three turns going around the course when you can buy a bomb and cut through that wall?
Two walking enemies can be hit with perfect timing to turn a corner, or you can shoot a button to open the opposite gate, as the arrow ricochets off the wall and through it to vanquish a foe, all in one fell swoop. There are four worlds, and each of these contains different enemies and equipment to challenge you, keeping the game feeling fresh and incredibly engaging.
The gameplay and the premise are pretty simple, but the way that Sleeping Giant pulls it off is incredibly impressive. You don’t need giant open worlds or over-the-top action pieces to make a game you can get lost in for hours. Par for the Dungeon is a perfect example of how keeping things tight and concise can lead to a fantastically engrossing time.
By collecting crowns and stars, you will amass a variety of silly little outfits to dress Cal. Half Gallon will give you cowboy Cal, collecting all crowns will get you a rather familiar Hero’s Hat, or you can do what I did and unlock the first pirate-themed outfit, laugh hard at the name Parrrrr and stick with that. There are four special outfits, however, locked behind that most dreaded of features; microtransactions.
It is a necessary evil in any mobile game, the developers need to make money and Par for the Dungeon only have retries that you could conceivably put a price on, but at that point why not just charge for the game, or have a fully unlimited retry option in the store. For a game that people will want to get max crowns on, and where you can miss out on top score by literal millimetres on some levels, it just hits as quite sly. Especially when levels as early as Course 7 will burn your retires as you try to master its very specific moves.