Wednesday, April 4

Review: Devious Dungeon [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With the explosive popularity of the Switch, its portability, and its touchscreen it is understandable that it has gotten quite a number of ports from the mobile space. While there are certainly some conversions that haven’t fared well, either because they weren’t terrific games to begin with or because they failed to be competitive against games designed for a dedicated console, budget prices and reasonable quality can bring some success. Devious Dungeon, a title I’d originally enjoyed on my Android phone, is the latest highly successful title to come over from the mobile space and while it isn’t terribly ambitious it feels great on the Switch.

Getting down to the basics Devious Dungeon is a relatively simple side-scrolling action game with a hint of RPG elements thrown in. Your hero will move through a progression of levels, in search of a key and the exit, slaying a variety of monsters, looking for secret areas, and collecting loot along the way. You’ll slowly accumulate experience that will periodically level you up, giving you the opportunity to increase your attack damage (strength), health (stamina), or critical hit rate (dexterity). Every few levels you’ll get a break where you’ll have the chance to spend your accumulated coinage to heal or gear up with a merchant. Every set of dungeons you work through will then culminate in a tough boss fight, leading you then to a newer and tougher set of dungeons.

Each time you begin you’ll have the option to start at any of the stages that correspond to a caravan you’ve visited, just consider them to be checkpoints in that regard. Depending on your skill level and how you want to play you may find starting from the beginning to be more your style, you may want to go right back to where you left off, or you may want to move back a little to give yourself a buffer. All of these strategies have their merits and it will probably boil down to your skill level. Going easy will lead to longer sessions but be warned that you’ll accumulate both money and experience more slowly, going tough may kill you quicker but it also means you’ll be getting more money and will level up more quickly per enemy you kill. Once you get to the boss battles you’ll then either be able to get through them pretty quickly or you may need to grind for experience and money to gear yourself up better to improve your odds.

There’s no getting around the fact that both visually and in terms of play this is a pretty basic game that isn’t pushing the Switch hardware in the least. That said, it is also a game that’s easy to kick around with in quick breaks, putting it down and picking up for a few satisfying minutes at a time. Its challenge scales very fairly since you never lose progress, so even less experienced gamers can make their way through just about anything if they persist long enough. I’d say about my only major disappointment is the mapping of the buttons, and the fact that you can’t remap them to something else, just the jump and attack feel like they’re in the wrong place for me.

There’s no getting away from the fact that Devious Dungeon is a mobile port. However, this is also a case where a relatively simple game that played well there plays even better on Switch. Physical controls work far better than the virtual on-screen variety and though there’s not a ton of complexity in the gameplay it can still be quite satisfying. If you’re out for something that’s relatively cheap, plays well, and is satisfying you can do far worse than Devious Dungeon.

Score: 8

  • Progression isn’t lost, meaning anyone can conquer the game with enough time
  • Easy to pick up and put down in short play sessions
  • A budget-friendly price

  • On all fronts it’s a relatively basic game, even though well-implemented
  • Available on mobile platforms, though not with dedicated physical controls
  • No ability to remap the buttons