It’s a busy month in terms of conversions of games to the Vita platform. Today we’re reviewing One More Dungeon, previously available on Steam for PC owners.
Although the title might suggest something like a classic dungeon crawler similar to Dungeon Master, Stonekeep and the more recent Legend of Grimrock, One More Dungeon isn’t anything like those games. Instead, One More Dungeon is much more like a classic first person shooter from the pre-Quake era – when things weren’t “true 3D” if I understood that discussion correctly. Wolfenstein 3D and Doom are the most famous example from that period, but One More Dungeon thematically has much more in common with id software’s lesser known games Heretic and Hexen.
I have to admit that One More Dungeon has been tough to love, as it tends to feel crude with a lot of rough edges at first. The pixel art 3D graphics within its randomly generated levels flow across the Vita’s screen smoothly, but they’re a far cry from the 3D visuals that the Vita can handle – just look at Unit 13, Resistance, Black Ops or Killzone. I have no problem with a more indie look and feel, but the pixel art combined with the wall textures that keep repeating didn’t appeal to me.
A bigger issue that you’ll initially run into is the game’s controls. They’re simplified in the sense that you can’t freely look around, so your right stick is just for rotating. Perhaps it’s because of the Vita’s small screen, but aiming is tough to the point of missing an enemy to the left, correcting and then missing the same enemy to the right. Very often, I found myself just using the left stick to strafe instead of trying to aim with the right stick, something that generally feels like a compromise.
Shooting’s done with a magic staff that you hold in one hand while you hold a melee weapon in the other. The latter is best used for smashing crates as it’s relatively weak in combat – at least at first, when you’re not powered up yet. What can help is enabling the mutators at the start of every run – which are essentially different sets of perks that can help you one way and hinder you in another way. Obviously you can gain more life points this way, but you also have the choice to modify the game in a design kind of way – by selecting mutators that change the parameters of the randomly generated levels, for example by making them larger or adding more items of a certain kind to them.
Yet, for all my issues with the controls I ended up wanting to press forward to edge ever closer to the end of the game. Running into a new enemy type, or unlocking a new skill or weapon, constantly gave me the sensation I was getting closer – and it’s an infectious feeling. The experience was still largely forgettable, but to a certain degree it was fun to sink a few hours into.