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Game Review #200: Dungeon Stars (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Bradford “TheWaffinator87” E.

Developer: Furnace Games

Publisher: Riposte Games & Co

Category: Adventure, Role-Playing, Action, Auto-Runner

Release Date: 2.15.2019

Price (at time of review): $9.99

Buy Dungeon Stars from the Nintendo eShop here.

What is it?

Dungeon Stars, by developer Furnace Games and publisher Riposte Games & Co, is an auto-runner game that is also on the role-playing side. At first, I was like wait, what? An auto-running game that also contains elements of RPGs? There’s no way that could work. That would be like if you took Subway Surfers and were to make it have a baby with say, Final Fantasy. There’s NO WAY that can work! Can it? As scary as that may sound, it is quite a beautiful baby. Come on now, didn’t anyone ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover?

You see, I have always been a fan of auto-runner style games - on the phone at least. They are good to pass the time and can easily get addictive. The problem with them, though, is they can get old quick because, well, all you do is run as long as you can and try to get a high score. You don’t have many customization options, usually. Well, Dungeon Stars is far from your typical auto-runner style game. You choose from one of three heroes to start, which are either an Assassin (poison element), a Warrior (fighter type), or a Sorceress (ice element). Basically, just choose the ones you like the most for now as you will be able to rescue other heroes along your adventures. I’ve started the game over 3x now to try all three characters; Ice Sorceress is my favorite to start with.

So part RPG? It must have a story then right?

In Dungeon Stars, you are a hero that must save other heroes, rescue pets, and find just the right loot and gear (accessories) so you can defeat hordes of goblins, evil wizards, and all other kinds of creatures like the Conqueror Worm! You will be fighting your way through all kinds of floors in all kinds of dungeons. Just like every other game though there are patterns and once you know the pattern it becomes easier to understand and play. When I first started, I spent a good couple of days stuck on the first three dungeons and was ready to rage quit, but then I noticed the pattern and now the only reason the game is a challenge for me is because you can’t use potions as you play the level, you can only use them prior to starting the floor you are on.

Like most RPG and adventure style games, loot and gear (accessories) means pretty much everything when it comes to your survival. You are constantly gaining gold for every floor you run in every dungeon. On top of that you will come across gear from beating enemies like Goblin Kings (mini style bosses) and random treasure chests. Use this to your advantage and learn to master each hero with hundreds of customization options from having all kinds of different accessories. My favorite character I would have to say is Thorne. He is a rat that is a Snakemire Thief. I’m not 100% on why but I would say it is because his abilities are pretty cool. There is a fire wizard that has pretty sweet abilities as well.

You have a main screen that allow you to access different aspects of the game like:

  • Portals - where you go to enter the dungeons and rooms to play.

  • Store/Merchant - where the creature’s face reminds me of an evil Cheshire cat from Alice In Wonderland. Here you can buy items with coins you have gained and the items are always randomly changing, so make sure to always check it.

  • Loot - all your items that you own so you can view them and sell them if you have extra or just really need the coin.

  • Hero - section where you can edit your hero (attach accessories that help his/her stats), or even promote your hero (level them up if you have all required items and enough coin) and add and remove the pets that you may have rescued.

Run, Slash, Block and what else?

Let’s make this nice and easy.

Just like I just said, “let’s make this nice and easy”, is as easy as the game controls. Usually in auto-runners all you have for controls is jump, dodge left or right, and maybe duck. So, when I was reading that it has role-playing elements in it as well as adventure, I thought the controls would be a little harder to grasp. Nope; I was dead wrong. Because of it auto-running you don’t have to worry about the movement aspect. In fact, it even auto attacks for you when you’re close to an enemy. I have honestly found myself dozing off while playing but not dying because it was maybe an easier floor that didn’t have any bosses, or brute style enemies and the auto-attacking did all the dirty work for me.

As for using abilities or your pet you have the D-Pad, and swapping between heroes is just the top two left controls or the top two right controls, so whatever is easier for you works. Between Attacking and blocking you just have to worry about 3 buttons vs a whole controller of combo button bashing. They were really on key when saying that it has the hack n slash elements as well. Dungeon Stars is just one endless flow of well executed controls and gameplay. The way it should be.

Appealing Enough for kids, Entertaining enough for Adults

Just like the title of the section, I said it for a reason. The visual presence of this game feels like it geared more towards younger kids (6-7 is average kid age for serious kid gamers right). Like my 6-year-old loves the cartoony layout. But at the same time older players with the RPG and hack’n’slash elements, you know what? I was highly drawn into not just the RPG elements, but I found it visually appealing as well and I’m 32. This game has a little something for everyone when it comes to the visuals and sound effects that were well-executed with this game and it isn’t disappointing. However I noticed that there was one point that I was hacking and slashing away so much that the game almost seemed to lag and couldn’t keep up with me, I honestly thought I broke the game.

When the game finally caught back up to me, I ended up dying, but death in this game is almost comical, so I really don’t mind it once in a while. It’s the constant dying in the beginning that made me want to rage quit. Actually, I kind of enjoyed breaking the game for a moment; I felt like Neo from the Matrix when he first realizes his full potential and goes all out. That was the only time this happened to me out of the 3 times I have started the game. Each time I restarted, I played the game through the same length of time therefore I am not saying it was the game’s fault for the lag, but maybe my Switch. One last big plus for the game in the video and audio section, it offers 10 different languages to play in allowing for a bigger market of fans. I did try it in Japanese; it was entertaining trying to navigate in a language I don’t know, but I will be sticking to my English for now.

Highly Addicting, Just Give it a Chance.

At first it took me a bit to really get into the game, I’ll be honest. At first it felt really dragged out with the whole run and slash just seeming so repetitive, but then it actually becomes challenging. Now you must actually engage in leveling up (promoting) your hero, and making sure you have the best gear and accessories attached. And now it’s not the same-old, same-old auto-run game but the new standard of auto-runners in general and stepped it up overall in getting a great game at a great price. This was one of the games that shocked me – again, in a good way - seeing how it is only $9.99 and I was expecting a high price point! Actually, at this point I am convinced that Dungeon Stars has set the standards of a good auto-runner game not only for those on mobile platforms like Temple Run, Subway Surfers, or even Super Mario Run, but anyone thinking of publishing an auto-runner for consoles. And to be honest this is easily in my top 5 favorites for indie Switch games and top ten overall favorite Switch games now because of the unique combination of auto-runner, RPG, and hack ‘n slash!

And what is nice about it as well if you are in the middle of a dungeon but running short on time just play a floor or two, and then just come back and pick up where you left off. It’s a great game for people that just like to play a level or two and put it down; me, I get addicted and usually dedicate easily an hour! Anyways like I said; this game has not only shocked me, but has even in my book set higher expectations for the genre, and it’s great for long gameplay or just here and there gaming. This game is for everyone!

Score: 10/10

Buy Dungeon Stars from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Terminals

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