Before you tuck into Tyson Ibele’s The Quest Keeper, there’s one thing you ought to do: look for a little cube graphic on the right-hand side of the screen at the start of the game. It may be hard to see, but it’s there.
Tap this cube. Your view of the playing field should shift from an isometric viewpoint to a direct overhead shot. Cool. Now you’re ready to enjoy this spirited little roguelike with minimal aggravation.
Though visually inspired by Crossy Road, The Quest Keeper plays very differently from Hipster Whale’s endless road-hopper. You unlock a series of dungeons, then dodge the traps and enemies within until they reach the end and earn a magical accessory that extends their health meter.
Of course, winning the day is actually a bit harder than that. The mustached hero of The Quest Keeper has some interesting mobility issues: Once you set him on a path, he won’t stop walking until he hits an object. This occasionally causes some problems, given each dungeon is packed to its neck with swinging blades, buzzsaws, spikes, fire traps, and (shudder) spiders.
You can change your hero dude’s inexorable waddling by swiping at the screen in the direction you want him to travel. You also have the option to use drag controls, but swiping is much more responsive, and a bit more forgiving.
But no matter how carefully you navigate these dank, procedurally-generated realms, your death is inevitable. Luckily, there are plenty of checkpoints that can be activated. When you die, you sail back to the last glowing tile you stepped on – though utilizing its services means paying a fee. The closer you are to the end of a dungeon, the more your revival costs.
Like Crossy Road – and like a growing number of free-to-play games – The Quest Keeper lets you earn these coins in-game (most conveniently for a dungeon specifically engineered for picking up cash), or by watching video ads. This is good, because while grinding for coins in The Quest Keeper isn’t the most tedious task in gaming history, having the option to “earn” quick cash by watching a video isn’t bad – especially if you’re lacking the funds necessary to revive yourself steps away from the end of a dungeon.
Also, succeeding at The Quest Keeper takes a heck of a lot of cash, because some dungeons are nigh-impossible unless you equip yourself accordingly. There is simply no way to beat the Bane of the Fallen challenge without accessories that slow the collapse of the floor under you, nor is it feasible to succeed in “Creeper Crawl” without purchasing the special shoes engineered to keep you ahead of the spider-tsunami in hot pursuit.
That’s not to say these special items and accessories make the game’s dungeons easy. Rather, they make the dungeons’ challenge level manageable. It’s still pretty gratifying to cross the finish line at the end of every quest, accessories or no accessories.
You’d do well to switch your viewpoint using the method described above, though. Some of the dungeons’ obstacles will obstruct your view otherwise, particularly the swinging axes in the Cult of the Blade.
Trundling along in The Quest Keeper and bumbling into treasure chests for rewards is fun. If you dig Crossy Road’s chunky pixels but find the gameplay a bit shallow, consider leveling up to become a hero.