Dungeons of Dredmor

Dungeons of Dredmor
Dungeons of Dredmor Cover
Platforms Windows, OSX, Linux
Genre Whacky roguelike
Developer Gaslamp Games
Buy from Steam
Buy from Desura

Welcome to Indie Impression, a brand new type of article for 2012. As the name implies, these articles will be impressions on some of the numerous indie games that have been rapidly appearing recently. We here have built ourselves very large collections through cheap package deals via Steam, Humble Bundle, Indie Royale, and more. Some have amazing production values, some don't. Some are incredibly fun, some aren't. But without question, these indie games generally offer creativity vastly beyond anything you'll find in mainstream gaming and will likely be the main driver behind industry innovation for a long time.

And as our indie backlogs have grown exponentially, we've decided to start sorting through our games and trying them out to get a good impression of each. To add credibility to our impressions, we will try to have at least two people play each game until they feel they have a solid, concrete opinion for writing. Impressions may be from ten minutes of gaming to ten hours, but in this case, we feel like it's important enough to have multiple strong opinions on each game. With that out of the way, let's continue to our very first candidate, Dungeons of Dredmor.

Dungeons of Dredmor is a roguelike from Gaslamp Games, released in July, 2011. Each writer has written impressions independently from each other.


I guess it says something that, upon starting Dungeons of Dredmor, I immediately clicked on the barred door behind my avatar, hoping to escape right then and there. My character, Indiana the Adventurer, was not as dashing and heroic as the game labeled him to be. His skills included Archery, Throwing Weapons, Golemancy, Artful Dodger, Burglary, Perception, and Archaeology, but it didn’t matter. A Diggle killed him within a minute. I spent all that time picking out who my character was going to be, what his schematics and underlying desires were, and then he was dead. Tombstone engraving and all. I don’t understand how it happened; I went through a door, a monster approached, I tried punching it, and then it ate up all of Indiana’s life-force. The game laughed with mockery: CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE DIED.

I tried again, creating Indiana II the Adventurer and using the same skills as before. I clicked around the menus and learned how to check out my inventory, use some of the arrows in my possession, and eat/drink essential items. Okay, I felt a smidge better and went through the only door available, directly south. A zombie and another Diggle killed me with extreme speed and accuracy.

I gave it one more shot, making Indiana III the Adventurer, but I am sure you can guess how it went. At least all three maps were different. Basically, going through a door meant death, but I couldn’t just hang around the food and drink vending machines for all of time.

I don’t grok you, Dungeons of Dredmor. And I won’t be crawling through any more of your dungeons until I do.

Dungeons of Dredmor Congratulations you Have Died


I went on a roguelike kick a few years ago, trying to make my way through Nethack, Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer, and others; and generally found frustration as often as fun. It's a rough and tough genre, rewarding persistence and the willingness to give it another try after you die. And by willingness to give it another try, I mean start the entire game over. No, this genre is not for everyone.

Either way, Dungeons of Dredmor is trying to make roguelikes just a bit more accessible. The tile-based graphics are simple but colorful, there's some scattered quests around to participate in, and selecting your adventurer's skills is funny, simple, but you know it will have a big effect on your game.

First thing I did upon booting up Dredmor was give the tutorials a shot, I actually didn't know this was a roguelike before going in, and was pleasantly surprised when I read that enemies move and attack only when you do, a classic characteristic of the genre. I honestly found the tutorials slightly buggy and tiresome. They only last about 10 minutes total, but I was thinking, "this is the game I'm going to play? This feels dull." After seemingly crawling through lessons on drinking potions and throwing bombs, I was off creating my first adventurer.

Selecting your skills the first time is always a guessing game, but I most definitely selected the Indiana Jones perk, along with some sword-fighting and sneaking skills. Was my character well-rounded? I had no idea, and this is one of those games that would takes hours to find out.

Actually playing the game was pretty fun, I wandered around a dungeon, kicking in doors and beating up Diggles. Scattered vending machines held items I didn't have enough money to buy, but the ground was literally littered with stuff to pick up. After about 15 minutes of exploring my inventory was full, but I never found a place to actually sell the crap I didn't need. One thing I don't like is excessive item management, so at that point I didn't really bother picking up loot.

I died a few times, always my own fault for not healing my adventurer, but I defiintely did not have a bad experience. I'll probably play it a bit more and see what the lower levels are like. Here's to a return to the dungeon.

Dungeons of Dredmor Skill Tree


Dungeons of Dredmor is mostly what you'd expect in a singleplayer roguelike permadeath dungeon crawler; it's fun, addicting, and very cruel. The game offers significant customization, allowing you to specialize almost any manner you wish, whether through crafting, offense, defense, agility, ranged attacks, magic, sneakiness and more. Dredmor's old-school graphics are an initial turnoff but at least don't significantly hurt the game. After all, even sprites with basic animation is an upgrade over most games in the genre.

The turn-based gameplay also feels awkward at first but soon becomes a useful tool once you understand how to use it to your advantage. Randomized quests, loot, shops, crafting recipes, upgrade shrines, difficult boss enemies, and even monster rooms all greet potential dungeon crawlers.

With randomized gameplay, massive customization, friendly casual/non-permadeath settings, and an exponential scoring system (encouraging players to keep trying and push themselves towards an eventual end of the game), Dungeons of Dredmor is a worthy attempt at the genre. It's certainly not for everyone as it feels very old-school and the notion of permadeath can be off-putting, but roguelike or character customization fans would likely enjoy this game. Let the smooth, mellow music take your hand and guide you through the depths to defeat Dredmor.

For full disclosure, I played through the game five times, doing better each time (with my last two deaths due to overwhelming monster rooms, sadly).

Dungeons of Dredmor Gravestone rip