Dungeon Rampage re-review
Rebel Entertainment’s Dungeon Rampage originally released on Facebook back in March, and our review from that time noted it was a good quality game with some rather unbalanced monetization. The limitations non-paying players found themselves with left the game feeling somewhat like a limited demo rather than an experience that could be expanded through premium purchases.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Dungeon Rampage is a synchronous multiplayer action-RPG heavily inspired by arcade classic Gauntlet. Players take on the role of one of a selection of heroes and battle their way through a series of increasingly complex dungeons in an attempt to gather treasure, gain experience and progress through the game’s storyline — a tale of an evil prince with an apparent aversion to cute puppies, told through amusing wordless cartoon cutscenes.
Control is simple — players move through the dungeon with the arrow keys and use one of their three equipped weapons or items using the Z, X and C keys on the keyboard. Players who prefer to move using the WSAD key arrangement favored by players of first-person shooters may also use this method — in this case, weapons may be used with the right hand on the J, K and L keys.
As players defeat enemies and destroy objects in each dungeon, they gain soft currency and experience points. Occasionally, gold stars appear — collecting these charges up the player’s “Dungeon Buster” ability, which is unique to each character type and generally takes the form of a devastating attack particularly suited to dealing with powerful enemies or large swarms.
The basic gameplay of Dungeon Rampage is almost identical to how it was on its initial release, but many of the criticisms we raised in our original review appear to have been addressed. Most notably, it is now possible to purchase additional characters using soft currency — previously, players were required to pay hard currency to unlock new types. The new character types are extremely expensive, ranging from 40,000 to 240,000 units of soft currency, but the option is at least there now for those who wish to “grind” and have something to aim for. Players may also purchase additional “styles” for their character to change their appearance while keeping the same abilities, but these still require hard currency to acquire.
The game has also changed how “keys” work. While the game previously used keys as a form of “energy” system to limit the amount non-paying players were able to enjoy the game, now they are used to unlock treasure chests found in the various dungeons. More valuable chests require more valuable keys to unlock, with some only available via hard currency. This is a more player-friendly system, as running out of keys does not prevent players from playing — only from acquiring certain pieces of treasure, many of which can be purchased from the in-game shop with either hard or soft currency.
An advertising banner is still present beneath the game canvas, but in a number of page refreshes it did not appear to display the same kind of sleazy, misleading adverts that were present when we initially reviewed the game. Instead, localized advertisements for companies such as Play.com and Ted Baker came up, occasionally punctuated by that mainstay of Internet advertising, the “weird old tip” to reduce wrinkles/lose belly fat et cetera. There was no sign of the misleading “Download/Play” button adverts we specifically criticized in our previous review.
Dungeon Rampage is a solid game with well-implemented, seamless online multiplayer play. Its presentation is distinctive and mostly good quality, though the frame rate occasionally drops due to network lag or if there is a lot happening on screen at the same time. There is also no sound or music in the game’s menu screens, which is a little disconcerting and leaves the game feeling somewhat “unfinished” — particularly as the in-game sounds and music are so good. While the additions to the gameplay over its original version are relatively minor, the rebalanced monetization makes the game feel much more fair to non-paying players.
Looking at the whole package, Dungeon Rampage is an excellent example of how to implement a free-to-play, “core gamer”-friendly game on Facebook. It’s simple for players to jump in and get started with, yet offers enough depth and customization options to keep more “hardcore” players interested over time. It doesn’t patronize its players, bug them to invite friends or share everything on their Timeline, and implements online multiplayer with real-time chat in a completely seamless manner, allowing players to easily play with friends and strangers alike. It deserves to enjoy some success, and hopefully with Rebel’s proposed updates to the game in the coming months will be able to remain viable and profitable for a good while yet.
Dungeon Rampage currently has 860,000 monthly active users — nearly double what it had in March — and 100,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A solid, entertaining multiplayer action RPG that ably demonstrates how to make a game that will appeal to “core” and “casual” players alike.