Published on February 16th, 2017 | by Ahmad Gameel0
[email protected] is a rougelike dungeon crawler that takes inspiration from ASCII based games in terms of its aesthetics. It’s the debut of Stormcloud Games. I personally never played a game with this art style so it was interesting to see it.
There is no story or context behind [email protected]. You are a warrior who is in a dungeon to kill enemies till you reach the end. That’s pretty much it. It tries to have a story element in the final dungeon but it’s so laughable and ridiculous. It’s a shame really because I felt like they could have done something interesting with it.
You start by choosing one of the 4 available heroes. You pick between the Warrior, the Amazon and the Ranger and the Mage. All the classes play the same and have the same skill tree. The only difference is their starting skills and the Mage has a staff that shoots projectiles instead of a shield like the rest of the classes.
You are dropped in a randomly generated dungeon and you start with only a torch and your fists with 1 objective; explore the area and destroy everything in front of you till you reach the 26th dungeon.
You gain XP from killing the enemies and destroying the objects that surrounds you in the environment. You use that XP to upgrade your health and learn abilities that will help you through your journey. You also find Books or tomes that you unlock to get weapons from it throughout the game and the weapons can be imbued with magic elements using letters scattered throughout the level.
I personally found the whole letter aspect to be a major issue throughout the game because in order to unlock those Books, you need to find the proper letters to unlock it. And because the game is randomly generated, you might find yourself without a weapon for quite a long time. The first time I played it, i reached dungeon 10 with only my starting weapon (the torch) because I couldn’t find the proper letters. The second time, I got lucky and found the proper letters and a decent weapon in the first dungeon. That annoyed me but it wasn’t a big issue since most enemies are extremely easy to kill.
The gameplay is really simple but unfortunately by the time you get to the 13th dungeon, you will have pretty much seen every enemy and object so you will see yourself forcing your way through the end because of how repetitive everything gets and the fact that most enemies are a breeze to kill just made the game way too boring in less than 2 hours.
It also has a Permadeath Feature which I initially thought would make the game challenging but because the game has platforming and you falling down insta kills you. It made the game so cheap. Imagine reaching the 26th flooring and kicking butt left and right and you made a wrong jump and fell to your death and had to start to over. Yeah, it won’t feel good if that happens and trust me, it will happen. 99% of my deaths throughout the whole thing were because I fell to my death.
Admittedly, there is a way to gain extra life and that is by offering Loot you find in the game to the gods. But that has a problem as well. You see, they don’t tell you how much you need to offer in the game, so let’s say you have 2000 loot in the game and you offered them all, they may like the offer and they may not like it. Its random, I once offered them 300 loot and they gave me the extra life and in the dungeon after it , I gave them 4000 loot and they refused to give me anything, It got on my nerve as it could have been handled better if there was a certain amount we had to offer or a hint on how much we needed to offer.
So combining that lousy Extra life feature with cheap Permadeath feature and you wont be enjoying playing this game for long.
The aesthetic looks nice here and every object and enemy looks well detailed but the issue here is that there aren’t that many objects or enemies in the game so you end up looking at the same assets over and over again. It just gets repetitive really fast.
The sound design is pretty good in this game, I loved the fact that every enemy had their own sound and this is extremely important since you won’t see much because of the top down view. So take a moment and listen before you enter a room, it might just save your life. The 4 heroes don’t say much. The only difference between them is their grunting sound and the way they look.
Length and Replay Value:
After a couple of retries, and tons of cheap deaths by falling into the abyss because of the bad platforming, I finally managed to beat it. It took me 4 hours and 13 minutes to finish all 26 dungeons.
In terms of replay value, I honestly don’t think I will be replaying it again since I pretty much saw everything by the time I reached the 15th dungeon and the fact that all 4 heroes plays pretty much the same and have the same skill tree, there was no point to replay the game with a different hero. I truly wish the game had some form of online co-op instead if just Leaderboards, I believe that would have helped make the game more fun.
There is also a level editor in the game but I didn’t really bother with it very much but am sure some of the talented people out there will make some fine levels with it. The game has some neat ideas but none of them are executed well. Maybe if the heroes had their own skill trees or the gameplay evolved overtime, I would have liked it more but right now, the game is just so basic and offers nothing new to the table. So aside from the art style, there isnt much interesting here.
[email protected] is a simplistic game and offers nothing new in a really crowded genre with so many games that offers much better content variety and gameplay depth. For that, I give [email protected] a 2/5.