Set in a fantasy world of dancing wizards and sword-wielding wind walkers, Dungeon Twister is a digital recreation of a strategy board game from French developer Hydravision Entertainment. While there have been plenty of great tabletop games that have translated perfectly to laptops, consoles, and handheld devices, Dungeon Twister is not one of them. Not only is it way too complicated, and poorly presented, Dungeon Twister’s also kind of tedious. Pop locking grey-bearded wizards and all.
The field of battle is a top-down view of a dungeon made up of dead-ends, fire pits, and locked doors. The twist being that each 5x5 square section has gears that give you the option to spin the section a quarter, half, or three-quarter turn. In this way you can trap opponents in corners, while opening up paths and special items for your own team.
To win you need to get five victory points. VPs are earned by getting your characters to the other side of the dungeon, or killing opposition. If it all sounds simple enough, don’t be fooled. It takes twenty training missions just to get you through all the rules, characters, special items, special abilities, and more rules.
The training missions introduce each character, explaining their unique abilities, and also unlocking special items like the speed potions, the wizard’s one-shot fire staff, as well as armour and swords which give your characters a one-point stat boost.
Both players start the game with the eight different characters, each one with a set movement and attack rating. So, the goblin can move more than twice as far as the troll, but the troll’s attack rating is four times that of the goblin’s. Also, the troll can heal itself, while the goblin will gain two VPs if he gets to the other side of the board.
Just like a board game, each player takes a turn. At the beginning of their turn you get to choose how many moves you want to take. If you choose four moves, you can get your thief to walk up to a door, over a sword, picking it up as you go (move 1), open the door (move 2), walk through the door, and up to the opposition cleric (move 3), and finally attack the cleric (move 4). That’s how it plays. Even the simplest tasks, like walking through a door, or jumping over a pit, are broken into their component steps. It’s all very static and plodding, not helped by the annoying and repetitive soundtrack, and bland graphics.
But, after a few days of grinding through all the training missions. It was time to test myself online. Being such a complicated and intellectually challenging game, the only person worth challenging was NZGamer writer, and widely acknowledged mega-brain, Joel.
Here’s how it went.
Good - Five minutes to get online, set up a private game, message Joel, and start.
Bad – Five minutes of picking characters, positioning characters, and placing items before you actually start the game. Then another five minutes of slowly plodding across the board before any real action starts.
Good – Joel seems to be moving his men around without any reason or structure. He possibly hasn’t had a chance to play through the endless training missions, and doesn’t know what he’s doing. Ha.
Even better – My thief attacks his mekanork (kind of a goblin tech), and takes it out.
Bad – Joel wakes up. Chooses the five AP card, giving him five moves, downs a speed potion, giving him four bonus moves, and all his men start attacking mine. Carnage.
Even badder – My troll and warrior, the only decent fighters, are trapped miles away from the action. Totally useless.
Good – I put my master plan into action. Joel said he might not have much time today. So I start texting that I’ve got all I need for the review and if he needs to go we should end the session and call it a draw.
Freakin’ disaster – Before I can press send, the game’s thirty-minute time limit runs out and Joel is declared the winner. It’s bloody stupid Madden, Resistance 3, and Buzz!, all over again.
But, to the victor, go the spoils. So, here’s a few of Joel’s thoughts on the game.
In the end Dungeon Twister is disappointing. The sound and graphics seem to be an afterthought. The characters are generic - fantasy characters 101 - all with very basic fight animations. Even the strange little dances they do, when they make it to the other side of the board, hold little interest. There are eight of them, and once you’ve seen them, that’s it.
But, it’s a board game. So, it’s at its best when you’re playing against someone else. And, Dungeon Twister plays perfectly well online. Just don’t play Joel. He’s a freakin’ beast.