Dungeon Raid

I thought I’d finally kicked this thing, I really did. I’d been clean for a couple months. The other day, though, I happened to see someone playing it on the Commuter Rail- “Hey,” I foolishly thought to myself, “it’s been a while since I played that- I should give it another try!” Three days later, I was trying to figure out whether a Changeling Raider with Enchant would be better than a Halfling and trying to break 700 turns on Normal.

Dungeon Raid for the iDevices, like its cousins in the Puzzle Quest series, is a combination match-three game and RPG. Where most of the variants of Puzzle Quest are centered on a story, however, Dungeon Raid is simply a run for high score.

The puzzle portion of Dungeon Raid is fairly standard- you’re looking at a grid of tiles of five basic types: swords, skulls, potions, shields, and coins. Tracing a path through a series of three or more adjacent tiles collects them; the types have different effects. Skulls represent monsters; these have life totals and hurt you every turn that they’re on the board. Tracing a path through skulls damages them; tracing a path through both skulls and swords damages them a lot more. Collecting potions restores your life; shields repair and upgrade your armor; coins are used to buy better equipment. You’ll occasionally see much tougher ‘special’ skulls as well- these typically have some sort of special effect and are also much hardier and stronger than normal skulls.

The RPG portion is where the game gets interesting- as you defeat monsters and collect gold and shields, you’ll level up and earn upgrades to your weapons and armor, given in the form of a random selection of three or four potential upgrades. Defeating monsters gives you experience, which makes your character earn levels- in addition to increasing your statistics, this gives you the opportunity to learn ‘skills’, which can be used to trigger special effects. There’s a pretty wide variety of skills with a decent range of effects- each time your character gains enough experience to level up, you’ll get two of these at random. At the beginning of the game, you’re prompted to pick a race and class- each race has a unique ability, and each class has a unique skill (which is very likely to be offered to you at level-up).

Although it probably sounds pretty basic from the description, I’ve found that the resource-management aspect of the game is tremendous fun, and it’s what keeps me coming back for more- what skills do I want to focus on first? Is gaining levels to earn skills more important, or should I focus on the often-unique abilities that equipment upgrades grant me? Which race-and-class combination is the best?

My only real complaint about the game is that the method for unlocking and leveling up classes is atrociously slow- I hate to say it, but it feels a bit like it was tacked on to encourage people to play longer. Older versions didn’t have a race/class selection; honestly, I think it may have been better that way.

All that being said, it’s great fun and hazardously addictive- last I checked, it was only $3 on the app store, and it’s well worth your time.

– HC