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RipTen Review: Dungeon Blitz (PC)

 

Dungeon Blitz is a new side-scroller meets MMO from Blue Mammoth Games. This free-to-play, browser-based Flash game is reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. crossed with World of Warcraft. You can play for five minutes or five hours at a stretch – it’s entirely up to you. I’m sure there’s some sort of story and character development in this game but it gets lost in the repetitiveness of gameplay.

The mechanics of the game are simple. Choose to play a paladin, rogue or mage as you make your way through the land of Ellyria. Paladins are big and hit hard, rogues are quick and stealthy and mages are proficient in arcane arts. If you’re looking for tons of character customization you won’t find it here. Paladins are exclusively male and mages are exclusively female. After doing a bit of reading at the Dungeon Blitz forums it seems a “technical limitation” that Blue Mammoth hasn’t figured out how to address.

Once you’ve chosen your class there are several customizations available and offered more than I expected from a free game. There are about five choices for head shape and five options for your mouth. You can select from about 20 different hairstyles and about 10 faces. Hair color, skin color and clothing color can be selected from color palettes during character creation. None of the customizations require virtual currency to select. Paid options may be something coming in the future. If you don’t feel like spending any time creating your character use the randomize button to generate one for you. You have a total of eight character slots (more can be purchased) so try a few different configurations until you find what you like best.

Begin your journey through Ellyria

You control your character with standard WASD or arrow keys. Attacks are initiated with a mouse-click and special abilities are found on a numeric action bar. In the event you need to jump, the space bar will help you avoid fireballs, pits of doom and other side-scroller perils. Each character has both ranged and melee attacks, which if used correctly can save you a lot of deaths. This also means there’s no real advantages or disadvantages to each class. You’ll have the same experience whether you choose Paladin, Rogue or Mage. The graphics are crisp for a browser-based game. The sound effects, especially the jackal mobs, sound very amateurish, though. I’m not a fan of most game music and sounds so it might just be my bias coming through here. After killing my billionth mob of jackals that sounded like screaming children, I set my speakers to mute.

Blue Mammoth touts this as a multi-player game, but I rarely encountered others while I was in-game. It has been out of beta for a few weeks, so it might just need a bit more exposure to get a critical mass of players with concurrent connections. The selling point of Dungeon Blitz, for me, is the ability to play full experiences in short bursts of time. You can get through a “dungeon” in 10 minutes solo instead of the two hours and five players to get through a WoW instance. When you finish a dungeon, you get a rating on a 5-star scale and a rank number so you can compare how you did against the scores of other players. There’s no death penalty that I’ve discovered, other than lower instance scores. Hardcore gamers might like the change of pace, and casual players will have no problems acclimating to this RPG.

Crazy ghost boss – s/he’s mean!

Whichever class you choose, your game begins on a ship at sea. A talking parrot gives you a brief tutorial on movement and attack controls. Once you’ve gone through the basics, you’ll fight off a giant, tentacled monster leading to a shipwreck on land. Thus begins your adventures in Ellyria. Your character begins with a main hand and off hand item equipped and no armor. A Paladin gets a weapon and a shield, Rogues dual wield weapons and Mages have a staff and a “focus” item that provides a special ability. The special abilities available to you change based on your equipped gear and any leveling or enhancements done to them. It’s a good idea to review your ability bar after you’ve changed an item so you’re not surprised when you key a number and don’t get the result you were expecting. There’s nothing worse than choosing a heal ability and realizing you’ve wasted an attack instead.

Your character collects gold, XP and crafting materials from kills and quest completion. Town vendors and trainers provide gear and skills to help your toon face increasingly tougher opponents. Each zone’s trainer will provide skills useful to that area. Most will offer some sort of +damage to creature types you’ll face, +resist to attacks from the monsters in the zone and increased gold and/or item drops. Some gear drops from mobs and bosses, and each zone of the map contains specific loot.

Unlike other games, you only collect gear that can be equipped by your class. You won’t need to worry about being cluttered with items you can’t use. Some of the gear has bonus stats, but to get any real benefit you’ll need to upgrade each item with gems you craft. There’s also a “home” where you grow Dragonore (“dragon ore”) in a garden and use them to combine the crafting materials you collect into socket gems. You get one free crystal garden. If you wish to grow more crystals you can purchase Mammoth Idols, the virtual currency for Dungeon Blitz. The Dragonore is also used to upgrade your weapons as you level up in the game and depletes quickly if you’re playing every day.

This is definitely NOT a “pay to win” game. Mammoth Idols can be purchased via PayPal (or Facebook Credits if connected via Facebook) and are used to purchase scrolls, pets, mounts, crystal gardens, Dragonore and character slots. The scrolls provide week-long buffs to drop rates of gold, craft items and gear or bonuses to XP and recovery time. There’s no real reason to buy any of this unless you want to provide financial support for the game developers.

The major issues with this game are the repetitive mobs and maps that don’t provide much variety in gameplay. You can give jackals, ghosts and skeletons new skin but it’s the same action/quest ad infinitum. It’s more casual than hardcore raiders would likely be interested in, but still worth a quick look. I don’t think there’s enough difference in the classes and storyline to have much of a replay hook. I look for excitement and freshness in the games I play, and Dungeon Blitz feels like more of a chore than anything else. You rarely pull aggro when running by mobs on the road, dungeon maps just repeat the same mobs and layouts and there are no skill trees or other mechanics to really differentiate your character and attack style from the other players in the game. If that sort of mindless, repetitive action is your zen then by all means check it out. If your time is precious, you can probably skip it.

Here’s the rundown:

+ Fun to play for a few minutes
+ It’s FREE (and free is the best flavor)
+ Self-contained dungeon experiences you can complete in 20 minutes or less
- Multiplayer option limited with low gamer population
- Repetitve gameplay can get boring quickly

5 and 5.5 are mediocre. These aren’t necessarily bad games, they just doesn’t do anything that is worth caring about and not worth the time of most people.

Dungeon Blitz was developed and published by Blue Mammoth Games for PC. It was released out of beta on March 26, 2012, and is free to play at www.dungeonblitz.com.

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