Have you ever played a Final Fantasy or a Dragon Age? Actually, have you ever slog through a bad role-playing game, one in which the characters just go on and on about their problems and the evil that's going to destroy the world?
Imagine an RPG without that. Strip out the story. Hell, strip out the characters, most of the graphics and jam it into my iPhone.
That's what the people who made Dungeon Raid did, and I'd like to thank them for it. (Thank you, Fireflame Games)
Dungeon Raid , a $3.99 game for iPhone, iPad and iTouch, will be mistaken by some people as a Bejeweled clone, probably because you do indeed play this game by matching adjacent and similar icons. It might be castigated as some sort of Puzzle Quest rip-off, because that game already did rip from Bejeweled, inject a story into the action and wind up with a popular role-playing game as a result. What Puzzle Quest got right is that Bejeweled is fun and that matching gems can be a simple, strategic way to conduct a fight against bad guys. They also understood that Bejeweled can be more fun if every match of gems kills some evildoer and possibly levels you up. That's the gameplay: similar to how it is in Dungeon Raid, a Puzzle Quest player matches some icons to strike, some to do spells and some to collect loot. But the makers of Puzzle Quest assumed I wanted a story around all of that. I didn't. The Dungeon Raid people somehow figured this out.
All Dungeon Raid is is a lot of combat and glorious levelling up. Icons fill your screen, waiting to be matched out of existence with swipes of your finger. Skulls are the bad guys and will attack you, damaging your shields and diminishing your health. Matching as many shields as you can builds your defence; matching red potions heals. Through methods that are not extremely complex you can match a lot of icons in a row, gaining piles of experience points and upgrading your equipment. Plus, you can add spells... all in the course of a single life.
As a round of Bejeweled or a round of Tetris ends, so too does a progression though Dungeon Raid. You die, you start over. But as you play, by killing special enemies, you can unlock new classes, new perks and new races, which allow you to experiment with many different configurations. It's like they made a deep role-playing game with hours of playability and almost zero hours of story (there is a single page of story that appears when the game starts; I've never read it).
For giving me the role-playing game with the shortest cut-scenes (0 seconds, max), the least protagonist-whining (none), the fewest plot twists (zilch) and heaps of experience points to gain, Dungeon Raid is our Gaming App of the Day.
Dungeon Raid [iTunes]