Deep Deep Dungeon is big big fun

Most dungeon exploration games take a lot of time to understand, often learning about various sub-menus, upgrading stats and the like. Despite its name, Deep Deep Dungeon isn’t all that deep – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Completely devoid of plot – just pick your gender and off you go! – Deep Deep Dungeon is about going down further and further into a dungeon. But don’t go looking for a walkthrough here: each level is randomly generated. As you go deeper into the dungeon, you’ll find more gold to buy better equipment, and experience to level up your character.

There aren’t any spells or any real stats to speak of in Deep Deep Dungeon. Rather, all that changes is how much damage you inflict and how much damage you can take. The only in-game consumable item is the potion, which you can either find in a chest or purchase in the camp (the game’s starting hub, to which you can return anytime).

Gameplay in Deep Deep Dungeon is simple. Each level of the dungeon is made up of a grid, visible in the upper-right corner. However, you can only see the square you’re on or any adjacent areas you can go. The more you explore, the more of a bonus you receive when you finally find the stairs to the next level. (If you explore 100% of the level, you can automatically proceed.) Enemies are encountered randomly, with a big boss battle every 10 levels.

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Everything outside of exploration is based on tapping an icon that whizzes by against a yellow bar with a small red zone. Tap to stop the icon over the yellow, and your action is completed successfully (i.e. opening a chest, attacking an enemy). Hit the red zone, and you score a critical hit against an opponent. Stop it outside, though, and you’ll either miss your attack, or destroy the chest you were trying to open, losing the booty inside.

As you level up, the icon moves slower and the red area gets larger, allowing you a better chance to score more damage. The more powerful the enemy, the faster the icon moves and the smaller the red zone is. It’s a dynamic way to show your progress and relative strength.

Anytime you want to, you can return to the camp to spend some of your gold at the shop. Here, you can purchase potions, and buy or upgrade weapons and armor. If you want to get a big leg up, you can even buy in-game currency using real money. It’s important to return to camp regularly, as if you should fall in the dungeon, you’ll lose half your gold.

Deep Deep Dungeon harkens back to the first dungeon crawlers to come out of Japan in the early 90s. Everything has an anime, hand-drawn look to it. The soundtrack – a neat combination of 8-bit sound and electric guitars – adds to the package. It’s really great for those of us who played those games twenty years ago, and a reminder of why the aesthetic works.

Because of the randomly-generated levels, Deep Deep Dungeon has essentially infinite replay value. There wasn’t any apparent pattern to the levels, and it was always a thrill to figure out the path to the treasure. You also get that “one-more-level!” feeling, which can help when you realize a couple of hours went by and the dishes are still soaking in the sink.

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However, it’s by no means perfect. Though few, there are some definite drawbacks to Deep Deep Dungeon. While players don’t have to memorize any weird stats or navigate a ton of menus, there isn’t a lot of depth to the character. There’s no way to customize the appearance of your character, and all they seem to be able to do is fight. A few different classes would have gone a long way here (mages, healers, etc.).

The tapping to stop gameplay is also ludicrously unbalanced for special luxury chests. Apparently these chests hold a ton of gold or experience points, but the icon whizzes by so fast that, despite being a level 30 character, I never once saw the inside of one. The internet says there’s good stuff in there, so I’ll have to take its word for it.

Finally, a note about purchasing in-game currency. There’s a big warning that comes up that states you must use the currency you purchase for that game session only. It won’t save to your file. This makes absolutely no sense, outside of the possibility of losing your gold should you die. But if you accidentally hit your Home button, or a call comes in, kiss that money goodbye. It’s a big problem, one that really needs to be addressed in an update before buying currency is recommended.

If you remember the classic dungeon crawlers of yesteryear, or simply enjoy a simple, fun exploration game, Deep Deep Dungeon is an excellent way to hack and slash your way to fame and fortune. It’s one of the more addictive games available right now, and perfect for short romps to the underworld.