Dungeon Crowley Early Access Preview

By Terris Harned (NWOrpheus)

Unreal Engine 4 has been out for quite a while now. Long enough for Indie studios to get hold of a copy and decide, “Hey, we can make a game!” and for consumers to see that game and go “Oooh, shiny! Look at the amazing graphics!” This isn’t necessarily a good thing for the game industry at large, as I’m afraid what we’re going to see come out of this could potentially just be the next generation of disappointment.

Brazilian based Animvs Game Studio seems to have potentially jumped on this bandwagon and on October 11th released to Steam an Early Access title by the name of Dungeon Crowley. While the crew does have a road map and it seems they intend to add at least a bit more content to this title, I really feel like Dungeon Crowley is little more than an engine demo than a real game.

First off, there is no new player experience. You start the game, you enter the game. No story preface video, no tutorial, no orientation. Heck you don’t even get a splash screen telling you basic commands. You get nothing. The only story I was able to find about the game came from the trailer and the Steam listing page, and both of these had some minor translation issues. Very minor compared to some other titles I’ve come across recently, but enough to be off-putting given the lack of anything else.

Then there’s the gameplay itself. There’s some good premise here, at the core. Animvs seems to be going for something like a 3D Diablo-esque experience. Currently there’s only a first person mode, but according to their Discord “#bug-reports” channel they do intend to allow for switching to third person at some point in the future. Players begin in some sort of little hovel. You leave this and find the front of a building. When I went there, I found a pig wearing sunglasses. I named him Bacon. He’s a good boy.

I think these guys with the yellow bars are supposed to be bosses or something? They always seem to drop loot. They’re not very hard though.

Then I went in the building and there were… I don’t know what; they don’t have names, only levels. I’m guessing kobolds or goblins or something. Apparently, as of right now, there are a whopping 10+ foe types. After launch, they intend to double that to 20+ whole bad guys. Okay, sorry for the snarky sarcasm, but they list this as a feature. Like they’re proud they have 10 different enemies? I dunno man, that seems like being proud you took a shower this morning. The same with their “3 Dungeon Styles” being listed as a feature. Especially since it seems like the dungeon styles are just Unreal Engine 4 assets pasted together on a procedurally generated map.

Which leads me to my next beef. There’s no actual map in the game. As you run around exploring, mindlessly and effortlessly killing enemies in some of the most boring one-button combat I’ve experienced in ages, you get lost, because the terrain is terrifyingly homogeneous, and you have no access to any sort of map or waypoints or even so much as a compass.

The loot, too, is very boring. You find chests around that appear to be full of gold and gems when you open them, and then a couple weapons drop out. You utterly ignore the precious stones and coins and can interact with a club, sword, magic wand, or ranged weapon. Maybe there’s a piece of armor. I just didn’t get excited for any of it. Some of the stuff I found had special properties, but I couldn’t see what these were, as they required identification. The tooltip told me to hold the interaction button to identify, which I did, to no avail. Perhaps early access bugs. I couldn’t honestly be bothered to care.

Apparently there are also plans for more character customization, but currently as you level you add one attribute point into one of the three stats. Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. The sole purpose of these stats is to increase the damage you do in a weapon type. Melee weapons, ranged weapons, or magic weapons. Both weapons and armor have an attribute requirement, but for the life of me I cannot currently see why you would divest points in more than one stat.

Decisions, decisions.

For the record, I think it’s great that Brazil is trying to break into the development market. I’ve talked to a few developers recently about the gaming industry in Brazil, and apparently those folks love games, but because of currency differences AAA American titles run the rough equivalent to 240 dollars down there. So it makes sense that Brazilian folks would want to make games that are more affordable for themselves. But this? I hope to heck that Anmivs Games Studios intends to add a lot more meat to the bones they’ve got now and can produce something of quality, but Dungeon Crowley has a long long road to get there. For $18.99 I expect a lot more.

I give it 2 out of 5.

Note: A game key was provided for preview purposes.

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