Dungeon Stalker : beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Dungeon Stalker Windows Phone

Dungeon Stalker Windows Phone

Dungeon Stalker Windows Phone

I don’t want to get a reputation for myself, but again I’m going to start this review with a little reminiscing. Let me take you back to a time before first-person shooters. A time when 1 MB of RAM was plenty. Let me take you back to the Atari ST in 1987, to the release of what would be the best-selling Atari ST game ever made: Dungeon Master.

Dungeon Master was a revelation: a fully graphical, first-person RPG. Simply put, you controlled a party of four characters, traipsing about a dungeon bashing monsters. Through the combination of its then-revolutionary graphics, innovative use of sound and rock-solid difficulty, Dungeon Master was a gripping experience. Hell, even its story, while minimal, pulled its weight: you’re trying to get hold of the Firestaff from a deadly dungeon, and do so by resurrecting four fallen warriors of your choice: warriors who had died in that self-same dungeon in years past. There’s little in-game storytelling, but as an idea it really gets the mind going – and gives you some attachment to your ragtag group of dead heroes.

As already stated, the game was a massive success, and ported to nearly every system around. It also ‘inspired’ a great many clones, most notably Captive and Eye of the Beholder, and it wasn’t until Ultima Underworld expanded on the concept in 1992 that its style of play began to go out of favour.

But even with the move to full, smooth 3D that Ultima Underworld heralded, there have always been players who favoured the tile-based, flick-screen controls of games like Dungeon Master, and it seems that the people at Pansoft are amongst them. Yes, Dungeon Stalker bears more than a passing resemblance to Dungeon Master. And I don’t just mean in title.

It employs almost exactly the same controls that Dungeon Master pioneered almost a quarter-century ago: a first-person, flick-screen perspective; six arrow icons used to move around, a weapon icon to bash things, and an inventory to fiddle with. Even the magic system is similarly opaque, forcing you to discover and learn spells by tapping out the correct patterns of runes. So far, so similar.

Where it differs from Dungeon Master is in its lack of a plot or party system: this is the story of a lone warrior, bashing his way through a randomly-generated dungeon in order to defeat the evil ‘Dragon Queen’. Essentially, this is a rogue-like with Dungeon Master’s perspective and control system. And it works!

It turns out that a cursor-based control system from 1987 translates very well to a touch-screen, making this a far more comfortable fit control-wise than the many attempts at first-person shooters that have cropped up on smartphones over the years. The game is suitably challenging, and the style of gameplay well suited to short bursts.

It’s not perfect, of course. Fans of Dungeon Master and its derivatives will be disappointed by the lack of a story or party-system. Indeed, I was a little disappointed that it uses a generic levelling system of allocating points to your attributes (Dungeon Master was an early title to improve your skills as you used them). Meanwhile, fans of rogue-likes may find themselves disorientated by the game – dungeon walls all look pretty similar, and it’s easy to get lost. Also, the graphics are a little disappointing: it’s not a good sign when your modern, pre-rendered graphics have less character, and generate less atmosphere, than those of a game released for a computer capable only of displaying 16 colours at a resolution of 320×200.

But despite this, the game is great fun, and very satisfying: at 79p it’s a no-brainer for any fans of dungeon crawling. Recommended.

Dungeon Stalker Gameplay Video

Dungeon Stalker Screenshots

Background : Lil Mz

Version Under Review : 1.3

There is a trial version available and the full version is available for $0.99, In TRIAL mode, you can freely enjoy the game but you won’t be gaining any experience after reaching character level 4.

Our Rating for Dungeon Stalker


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