Desktop Dungeons

I don’t know why, but my gaming is very cyclic except for mainstay MMOs.  Some weeks I am in the mood for Civilization games.  Frequently I love the chaos of Team Fortress 2.  The ebb and flow of what games my brains needs is pretty constant.  This month I am getting a serious roguelike kick.

My two favorites are Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (“Crawl”) and the internet darling Dwarf Fortress.  They each provide hours and hours of entertainment for no cost.  The problem I found this time around with Crawl was that I could not remember the enormous amount of actions.  My favorite thing to play is a Troll that eats everything, and I could not remember how to butcher, eat, or anything without reference to the manual.  Dwarf Fortress, I heard, just received a massive UI update as well.  Even if I remembered the old action commands it would be all different now.

Therefore, this cycle I am getting my kicks from “coffeebreak roguelikes.”  Coffeebreak roguelikes are designed from the standpoint of easy accessibility and quick gameplay.  They are meant to be played, duh, during a coffeebreak, but many can dole out continuous hours of entertainment.  I want to recommend Slashie’s great roguelikes, like Castevania RL.  (He is also maintainer of Temple of the Roguelike, site for all things roguelike.)  My current favorite is Desktop Dungeons.

Desktop Dungeons is a point-and-click roguelike that compresses the roguelike dungeon delving experience in to a single-screen 10 minute game.  Players choose a race and a class, some of which are unlocked, and head off into a randomly generated dungeon filled with dungeons, creatures, treasure, and god shrines.  The usual fare of fighters, rogues, clerics, and wizards applies, but each class can fight or use magic if they choose.

The game is mostly focused on resource management and resource risk. The main resource is actually unexplored dungeon squares.  Each time a player uncovers a new square they will be given a small amount of health and mana.  So when a monster is fought, the best way to heal is to explore more squares.  I should note that the monsters don’t move.  A level 1 player can completely ignore a level 6 monster until he is ready to fight.  There are also health and mana potions, which are helpful in fighting higher level monsters (which pay more experience points).  The risk involved is random (trying to find monsters to fight) and player-controlled (choosing a hard god that will not let a player kill undead or fighting a higher level monster), which makes each game fairly challenging.

The game is great in the balance between the luck of exploring squares to find the right creatures, spells, and gods, and strategy.  Once I got the main part of the resource management game down, I was finding that my success rate remarkably improved on the Normal dungeon.  I am still unlocking the hard dungeons, but my one foray in to the Snake Pit was pretty bad.  Probably the best feature for Desktop Dungeons is its unlockable system.  With specific achievements, like beating the normal dungeon, new races, classes, and dungeons will unlock.  The game will also unlock new items and monsters as the player progresses.

I am really enjoying this game.  As the version is in the teens, I am very curious to see what the developers have planned for future updates.  I am hoping for a portable release because the developer also makes portable games.  I would love to buy an iPhone version of this game. For a free computer game there is no reason not to try it for a quick foray into the deadly world of roguelikes.

only one way to stop a mad watch

8 thoughts on “Desktop Dungeons”

  1. If you haven’t tried ADOM (, it’s one of my favorite rogue-likes. It does of course have a fairly large amount of key commands, but there’s a built-in key reference.

    Haven’t heard of most of those others (sans Dwarf Fortress); will have to take a look…

  2. I’m a big fan of ANGBAND. The last time I played it they had added randomly generated quests and an overworld to mess around in if you felt like it. ADOM is one I’ve been meaning to try for ages.

  3. I like Angband, but I turn it grindy on myself because I can be a wuss. ADOM I couldn’t get in to. I hear it’s really good, but I couldn’t get very far.

  4. I will have to agree with the first commenter, ADOM is great! But yes, it does have an insane learning curve. I had the fortune to get help with the first steps into the game.

    Will try your suggestions from the article, sounds interesting.

  5. Despite the ASCII, I wouldn’t consider Dwarf Fortress a rogue-like. When I go on a rogue-like kick, SLASH’EM is my drug of choice, but Dwarf Fortress is more of a management game, falling in the same niche as Evil Genius and Dungeon Keeper, somewhere between The Sims and Sim City.

    1. There is also an adventure mode in the game, which IS a rougelike, which is what I believe the OP meant.

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