The recently-released Dandy Dungeon is a free-to-play dungeon crawler that offers an increasingly unique and quirky story with solid gameplay, which is all set on top of adorable pixel based graphics.
- Price: Free
- In-app-purchases: $0.99 - $43.99
- Contains advertisements: None
- Installed file size: 92.99 MB
- Genre: RPG, Dungeon-crawler, Puzzle, Maze
- Multiplayer support: None
- Controller support: None
- Android TV support: None
- Offline playable: No - always online
- Immersive Mode support: Yes
- Screen ratio support: 16:9 & 4:3
- Version number: 2.0.4
Developed by Yoshiro Kimura, it is no surprise how unique this game is. Kimura has had a hand in working on some pretty rare gems, such as Little King’s Story, Chulip, No More Heroes, and Sine Mora, all of which sadly didn’t sell all that great, but were received by critics and gamers quite well.
Now I know what you are thinking, “why are you recommending a free-to-play title, get out of here,” but hear me out, it is actually pretty fun and unique, where the gameplay holds up whether you pay-in or not.
You play as Yamada-kun, a tropey Japanese salaryman, who is so tired of his soul crushing game development job that he decides to code his own at home during the evenings, all alone in his sparsely decorated apartment. Sure, if you read manga or watch any anime, this sounds a bit familiar, a lonely guy ignored by the world, who escapes the reality of his loneliness through creating the most awesomest game in existence, but personally I find a bit of nostalgia in this premise. Maybe it hits close to home, maybe it’s just a fun and familiar story to be told.
The gameplay revolves around delving into dungeons, all with a cost of energy that decreases the ever present energy bar. Your goal is to trace a path with your finger on a set 5x5 grid filled with obstacles and enemies. Basically behaving as a dungeon crawler, it is your job to trace a path over every square in this grid, in order to end on the exit door. You can by choice skip squares on this grid, but they will count against your health once you land on the exit door, so keep that in mind. While your character follows the path you traced, you will auto battle with any enemy you cross paths with. Of course, during these battles you can select from items you have gained, such as potions or spells. So there is some help to be had, for those that wish to fight it out. This all adds some weight to your choices, do you skip the fight with the enemy to only take the health hit once you land on the exit, or do you battle it out with every enemy you see and utilize your items as best you can? The choice needs to be quick, though, as you have a set time limit to draw out your path, where if you take too long, you will be penalized with depleting health. Overall an easy enough system to understand, that takes only a match or two to figure out.
Each time you descend into a dungeon, you are given a set number of levels that need cleared, where the last level usually contains a boss. Once you defeat the boss, you will earn equipment and items, while also being brought back to Yamada-kun’s bedroom. It is in this bedroom where menu selections can be made. You can equip, sell, and merge items, as well as take on story or support quests. While interacting with these menus, the quirky story will keep progressing, which of course keeps the trend of introducing the player to new and outlandish NPC characters, as well as newer and newer mechanics Yamada-kun has coded into the gameplay. Basically, as daily characters and events affect and influence Yamada-kun, the game he is developing (the one you are playing) keeps growing in scope and mechanics.
Now for those that would rather see all this in action, over reading my long winded description, here is a 40 minute video I made just for this reason.
IAPs and value
Okay, so now that that is out of the way, time to get down to the nitty gritty. The included in-app-purchases are actually quite fair. I have yet to feel the need to purchase anything extra, though keep in mind that late game (that I have not reached yet) may be balanced differently.
The included IAPs consist of rice balls, tickets, and one special item. The rice balls are used in order to replenish the ever decreasing energy system. Now I haven’t had the issue of running out of play time yet, but it does look to be a possibility, which is why these rice balls exist. They range from $0.99 for one, all the way to $43.99 for 74. Next are the tickets, there are only two right now, one is for unlocking 10 item storage slots for $0.99, and the other for unlocking 100 item storage slots for $8.49. Lastly there is the special item, which the developer Yoshiro Kimura even recommends purchasing if you really enjoy the gameplay and want to support him. This item is a duck, it costs $8.49 and completely unlocks the wait timer, as well as upgrades your storage by 30 slots. What this really is, is a full unlock for more balanced gameplay, leaning more toward what would be expected of a paid upfront title. Sure the other IAPs will still be in the menu, but once you have no need to worry about a wait timer or low storage, you are pretty set to just enjoy everything on offer.
Now of course there is probably an argument to be had about the pricing, basically it is $8.49 to unlock the whole thing for better balancing, but that is a call you will need to personally make yourself, whether it is worth it or not. As is, without purchasing any IAPs, I have been enjoying it immensely, but if you like to support good games and quality developers, it may just be worth the cash to you. Luckily you don’t have to make that decision off the bat, as anyone can download and try this out for free.
This is our first post in our new series, "Play This," by Matthew Sholtz. We'll be taking a closer look at Android games that we think are worth your attention, free and paid alike.