Star Rating:

Guild Of Dungeoneering: Ultimate Edition

Platforms: PC

Release Date: Thursday 18th November 2021

It's one of gaming's great pleasures; the idea of giving a level 'just one more go'.

You may have other tasks to complete or have a report due, but a game is tempting you to give it one more spin before you have to face reality again.

This is a phenomenon that 'Guild Of Dungeoneering' captures beautifully.

The rogue-like genre, made famous by the likes of 'FTL', 'The Binding Of Isaac' and more recently, 'Returnal', is perfect for honing that impish "just one more go" mentality, and 'Guild of Dungeoneering' has it off to a fine art.

'Guild of Dungeoneering' is the perfect example of an indie game; limited resources gives way to boundless imagination and creativity, and pulls off a great act; you may not think you want to play a turn-based dungeon crawler with a cards system, but the game does such a good job of introducing every element that it sucks you in.

The game offers a random deck of cards ahead of each encounter, meaning no encounter happens twice, keeping the player on their toes.

A smart move deployed by the game is players being given the chance to customise their player in their guild before sending them out on an adventure, and pulls off a move seen in the likes of 'XCOM' - you become attached to your characters and feel a pang when they die.

The graveyard shows all your previous characters - I will avenge you, Anuss!

The animation style is sparse but effective, with just enough detail for players to get invested in the game world but also leave a fair amount up to the imagination.

There's a simple, but beautiful hand-drawn quality to the game, which invokes memories of doodling epic fantasy campaigns on the pages of a school notebook.

On the game world itself, the game has an ace up its sleeve; the player shapes the dungeon they traverse.

Using a simple drag and drop mechanic, the player decides what route their character takes, creating organic and unscripted gameplay encounters.

A player could see a room up ahead with an enemy that has a higher level than the players current one, so the player can add on a room that lets them sidestep the overpowered enemy.

The game games the player a high degree of agency and autonomy to shape the world around them, and the result is as liberating as any triple-AAA game.

Being able to shape the world around them adds a high degree of replayability and always gives players something new to tackle.

On the surface the game appears simple, but quickly reveals itself to be a game of staggering depth, even more so with this new 'Ultimate Edition' that makes an already substantial game that much more sprawling.

Developers Gambrinous have pulled off a sprawling game with limited resources and is the kind of game you could either play for 15 minutes or 6 hours at a time and not feel the time pass, which is the true watermark of a good game.

The games combat system is intuitive yet in-depth

If there is a criticism to level at the game, the pathfinding can be off at times which results in your explorer wandering into the path of a higher levelled enemy by mistake.

The dialogue existing in a weird halfway house between Marvel clever clogs and 'Monty Phyton' (which isn't as enjoyable as it sounds), and building up a strong deck only for it to evaporate at the end of a fight can be frustrating.

However, these complaints are not deal-breakers by any stretch of the imagination.

When reviewing a game, one may feel obliged to dedicate a few days to the game only to never think of it again, but that wasn't the case here.

Underneath it all, 'Guild of Dungeoneering' has enough imagination, heart and most crucially, fun behind it to keep players coming back time and time again.