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Game Info:

Dungeon Souls
Developed by: Lamina Studios, Mike Studios
Published by: Black Shell Media
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux, SteamOS
Genre: Rogue-like
Number of Players: Single Player game
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Price: $12.99
(Humble Store Link)

*Advertising disclosure* - After this review was posted, Black Shell Media became an advertising partner.  This review is not influenced by this relationship.

Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us the review code.

Skill level is a hard thing to talk about with game reviews. I always try to avoid using the phrase casual gamer. Who am I to tell someone they aren't good enough for a game? Yet at the same time certain games are not meant for everyone. Some people have massive backlogs simply due to the fact there are certain games we just couldn't beat. I have a few of those myself (looking at you FTL: Faster Than Light). So now we have a game that is supposedly the Dark Souls of rogue-like games. Dungeon Souls certainly lived up to that nickname in my book.

Dungeon Souls takes you through a fearsome dungeon. Souls are trapped and a select few are reborn with a chance at earning freedom if they conquer the dungeon. You choose from classes such as the barbarian, thief or ranger as well as a medley of unlockable classes. Each class has its own unique abilities; some classes focus on melee attacks, some on magic, some on pure ranged combat.

Dungeon Souls
Highlights:

Strong Points: A well thought out procedurally generated game with plenty of content to keep you going.
Weak Points: This game has a lack of world building and story.
Moral Warnings: A rather dark game with eternal punishment themes. Some may compare this to Hell.

To progress through the stages you have to activate a varying number of summoning circles in each level. Once you have defeated the monsters at each summoning circle an exit portal will open up to the next stage. You only have a limited time to escape to the next stage before the Redeemer ends your life quickly. Don't try to rush through every stage as the gold you earn can be spent on shops, or you may find a golden or silver key to open special chests that contain powerful passive items. Take too long and the Redeemer will come for you even if you're not finished with the stage. After every couple of levels you will face challenging bosses from skeleton kings, frozen golems, and Merlin. If you die, you will have to start over without any items or upgrades. However, materials you collect such as bones, metal, and magic dust can be used in the arcane forge to craft new weapons and items for your favorite classes to make them stronger.

The challenge certainly lives up to its nickname. Enemies are abundant and constant, but never feel like they are just meant to completely overwhelm you. You also feel like you get upgraded when you pick up an item. In these rogue-like games too often do you find that certain items are useless no matter which way you look at it. Making items in the Arcane forge can feel like a bit of a chore due to the amount of materials some of these recipes require. However, the game doesn't make you feel like they are needed for meaningful progression. You will die so don't expect to beat this game within a few hours. Some gamers might find such challenge as a deal breaker and may take long breaks from playing. Many people may never finish the game at all.

Dungeon Souls

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

The biggest notable con I have with this game is a lack of story. The game doesn't need it, but, imagination doesn't always carry interest. Why is each character trapped in the dungeon in the first place? This is one of the many questions I know I won't get answered. The only notable story bits I have come across is by appearing in a secret location when trying to find Merlin that I won't spoil. Story doesn't have to be around to make a good game, but you can develop the story off the back of a good game. Be warned this game has a notable memory bug where if you horde two million coins the game will crash on you and reset all progress. Controller support is lacking in this game as well; the character feels much harder to maneuver with a controller. 

Morality comes from the few bits of story you get. You're playing as mysterious individuals whose souls are trapped in a deadly dungeon. Other than the more obvious occult themes, the violence is overexaggerated and extremely gory for an old 8-bit style game. With a lack of story elements it may not be clear what the developer was going for theme wise in certain moments.

Dungeon Souls will frustrate you, anger you, and challenge your skills to the core. Rise up to the challenge and beat it, gamers! Or let it become another game in your backlog. The choice is yours. (Unless it erases all your progress.)

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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