by Adam Nix
reviewed on PC
A Dungeon Crawler Done Right
The classic dungeon crawler is a tried and true genre. Delving the depths of long forgotten caves, traversing graveyards full of spooky skeletons, and working as a team to take down freaky monsters is a great way to socialize and flex those teamwork muscles with a group of friends. Ronimo Games’ new game, Blightbound offers this experience in a 3-player dungeon crawler.
In Blightbound, players take on the role of heroes fighting back against “The Blight”, monsters that have taken over the world after the destruction of an ancient god. Everything from the makeup of your team to the creatures and flow of battle is much like any other dungeon crawler, where you have your group of adventurers and a few different actions to utilize. Blightbound isn’t making any huge leaps and bounds for this genre, but I can confidently say that it is a fun and exciting dungeon crawler that is worth your time.
Get Outside your Comfort Zone
Although Blightbound may be relatively similar to other dungeon crawlers out there, the game pushes players in interesting ways. For instance, you are not allowed to choose the hero they play until reaching level 9 in the game, instead you are randomly assigned a role. In a game like this, I always prefer the Damage per Second role (DPS). I’ve always played it because that’s what I was comfortable with. Blightbound forced me to leave my comfort zone and be a tank or healer at times. To my surprise, I had the most fun with the healer role after being assigned each a couple of times. One of the game’s successes is that it is relatively easy to learn about and feel useful in a given role. This makes someone like me a little more receptive to trying out a tank or healer when that may not be something I am totally comfortable with.
Unfortunately, this randomization of assignments at the beginning of the game can be a bit jarring. Playing in a group for an evening means slowing getting the feel for how each person plays. Each player connects to their role and refines it. There is a synergy that develops between you, your character, and the group as a whole. As soon as you finish a dungeon and load into the next, that synergy vanishes as you have to ramp-up on a new, random character. Once you reach level 9, you can pick between characters, making this is a non-issue. My main concern is that players will bounce off the game due to the jarring nature of having to constantly switch tactics and play-styles right as they start to get the groove of one.
Saving that NPC and Making the World Blight Free
Gameplay consists of players traversing a dungeon, looking for NPCs that they must revive. Sometimes these NPCs help out in the end of the dungeon, but for the majority of it, they just kind of stand there after one line of dialogue. They serve the same purpose as a fetch quest and can make the flavor of the game feel a little stale.
Under a cartoony and gloomy art direction, monsters have a variety of challenges and move sets that players need to learn and grow from. I was impressed by how quickly my group learned what to expect as soon as a monster showed up. For instance, I found myself constantly walking into venus fly trap-like monsters to the point where I had a personal vendetta against them. As a group, we struggled the most with floating heads that appeared out of nowhere during boss fights. The collective sighs and moans of frustration as the venus flytrap snapped me up again or one of those floating heads shows up is perfect proof of the robust variety of enemies and experiences this game provides.
The major disappointment I have in the game comes from the puzzles. Every puzzle in the game involves having the player either stand on a pressure tile or put a block on it... And that’s it. They are usually in place to simply open a gate. They tend to get in the way of the flow of the dungeon more than anything. I don’t expect in-depth puzzles in a dungeon crawler and wouldn't consider this deal breaker, but if this game wants to attempt it, they could at least provide for something a little more interesting.
After any given dungeon, players will be rewarded with loot of a rarity that coincides with the difficulty of the dungeon. “Impossible” dungeons may be difficult to beat, but the items you gain will be much better than any dungeon at “normal” difficulty. This also provides for great replay value due to dungeon difficulties changing as you gain more “notoriety”, which increases as you complete dungeons.
Take a Break
Between dungeons, players will find themselves in an encampment to deal with upgrades, skill points, and oh-so-precious loot. As you level up, you will gain a certain amount of skill points to use on the hero you played as in the last dungeon. At each level you are also provided with some kind of reward. This may be a new character, an extra skill point, or a new NPC to trade with in the camp.
The camp also gives you the chance to equip any of the loot you collected. Seeing as there are a good amount of heroes right out of the gate, you can usually find a use for all your items in your first few dungeons. After playing for a bit, you will quickly start collecting a hoard of relatively useless items. Fortunately, the game offers ways to sell them for money or transform these objects into more valuable ones through the merchant and blacksmith, respectively.
There are so many upgrade options and item combinations, I get excited at the idea of finding interesting loot to make my heroes stand out from others, my only issue with the activities at the encampment is the UI. It is relatively difficult to find what you are looking for. You go to the character screen to upgrade your characters stats, but need to go to the “Quartermaster” to actually equipe anything to your characters. Even quitting the game isn’t allowed in general UI, instead you need to go to the game settings in the pause menu.
BlightBOUND to play some more
Even with some minor issues with the puzzles and UI in the game I am impressed by how much Blightbound offers out of the gate. The shared experiences and monster variety make this something I would recommend to anyone familiar with the dungeon crawling genre. That being said, even though random matchmaking worked well, you'll have a lot more fun playing with a dedicated group of three.
Follow us on Instagram for reviews, news and more.
Great Monster and character Variety Replayability
Simple puzzles Convoluted UI