After having released Midnight Deluxe and League of Evil earlier this year, Devious Dungeon is Ratalaika’s third Vita release already – with another (InkSplosion) on the way. It’s also available on the Switch and PS4, and came out on iOS a few year ago – in that sense, the game follows a similar pattern to League of Evil and the Midnight games.
Devious Dungeon doesn’t contain much in the way of a storyline or character development – you’re a knight who heads into a series of catacombs, with your core objective being to cleanse randomly generated dungeons of the beings that inhabit them. Serving as not much more than a background setting, the emphasis is firmly on gameplay here, which is a mix of action platforming and roguelite/rpg-like progression.
A simple control scheme lets you jump and attack your way around each dungeon, and as you slay your enemies you gain loot and build up monetary reserves that you can spend on weapons and armor that should help you increase your odds. You also gain XP, which gets turned into an upgrade to your health, strength or dexterity. Lose a life, and you’ll hold on to these – as well as the money and the XP you were carrying at that time.
Divided into five different game worlds, you’ll run into bosses at the end of a series of dungeons. This isn’t the only way the game gives you a sense of progression though – it also regularly introduces new enemy types for you to fight. All these have been designed with a pleasant 8-bit art style not to dissimilar to the one used in League of Evil. The levels in Devious Dungeon are far bigger though, and the enemy and (especially) boss designs are more detailed this time around.
Weapon selection matters, as different weapons have stats that change how effective you’ll be with a certain play style. Pick a weapon with more range (like a longsword) and you’ll be able to hit enemies from further away, but it’ll take you longer to swing it – leaving you vulnerable for a second as well. There are no ranged weapons to choose from – although enemies can somehow find and make good use of them.
Devious Dungeon certainly doesn’t set the genre alight and the Vita has better titles available on it – like Shovel Knight – but Devious Dungeon is definitely a fun and competent little action platformer. It’s not too ambitious in terms of gameplay variety and story development, but more than makes up for that with its extremely pleasant price point.