Hunger Dungeon blends a number of genres rather well. Add some arena brawler, mix it with equal parts roguelike, and top it off with a pinch of MOBA and you have yourself the recipe for Hunger Dungeon.
After plowing through its relativity short tutorial, you are free to choose from a number of multiplayer modes. You have your chaotic free-for-all, aptly named massacre mode, as well as team deathmatch, for those that want more of a cooperative experience. Finally, there is the Dragon mode where you and a group of friends duel out against a fierce dragon that can literally wipe you all out in a few hits.
The basic deathmatch consists of four rounds, the first three just score you based on your kill/death ratio. However, it all comes down to the last round. The final round in each match is a sort of capture the flag where you must collect shards and return them to a chanting platform in order to escape. It takes some time to complete the chant, during which you are far more vulnerable. You also must remain inside the chanting circle otherwise you’ll lose your shards. This makes for a rather back and forward experience – one moment you are rallying together with everyone to take out a hero who is trying to escape and the next you are running in circles dodging fireballs while the timer runs out. There is nothing more satisfying than snatching victory in the jaws of defeat.
Even though there is resemblance of a story here, it takes backseat. Each hero enters the dungeon for one reason or another. The Goblin Profiteer is in search for riches, the Demonic Knight wants glory, while the prisoner just wants to make a quick escape. However, once they enter, the way back quickly closes they must fight it out, since the exit will only let one person through. This basic set up is more than enough let you know what you are in for in this crazy world.
Currently the game offers 10 playable characters and surprisingly each and every one offers a distinct play style. The Demonic Knight places pillars which give her buffs and allow her to teleport back to, emphasizing a powerful defensive play. Another noteworthy character is the Octo Pirate who is clearly inspired by Splatoon. While slow at first, he leaves dirty water behind him which poisons enemies and allows him to move faster. He also has a gun which paints the ground in front of him, letting him expand his territory all over the map.
It’s just a shame that not every hero is equally viable, as some are clearly more powerful than others. Characters with powerful melee attacks effortlessly dominate the match, even when all the others helplessly try to team up against them.
This wouldn’t be a hunger dungeon if hunger didn’t play a part in the game. By opening chests and laying waste to roaming monsters you can grab food to fill your hungry stomach. Keeping you hunger in check is important since this increases your health and mana recovery speed as well as reduces the chance of being hit back.
Before each match you and your future opponents can stock up on potions and food, buy new weapons and armor and purchase and upgrade a variety of skills in order to give you an upper hand. Gold is acquired throughout a match and can be used up in-between battles.
Aside from a hefty gold reward, the victor also gets the opportunity to select the next level by walking through one of three locked doors. The maps are varied enough to make each round totally unique. In the fire level you can slam enemies into the lava to deal additional fire damage, while in the forest you can lie in wait in the many shrubs scattered throughout the stage. Depending on your character and play style you might want to choose one area over the other.
Fans of retro games will be delighted with the graphics of Hunger Dungeon. While pixelated, the game oozes with detail and has some dazzling effects along with neat character animations. The sound track is no slouch either, featuring some great beats.
The best part of Hunger Dungeon is that it is free on Steam. Anyone can jump into it and play as one of 4 free characters. The remaining 6 characters can be unlocked by buying the Deluxe Edition of the game for 11,99€.
Hunger Dungeon is that small gem that will have you staying up way longer than you planned as you play just one more match. Its addictive nature, varied levels, strong online community, decent character roster and challenging gameplay are sure to keep you coming back for more. Sure, it might not be perfectly balanced just yet, but its future updates promise to add that final layer of polish this game deserves.