Title: Bit Dungeon II
Released For: PC (Windows) (MAC OSX 10.60.8+) Mobile (Android) (IOS)
Reviewing: PC (Windows) Version
DRM and DRM Free Versions Available
Released On: Dec 15, 2014
MSRP: $3.99 ( Purchased Copy )
Bit Dungeon II is an adventure roguelike action game. You are a spirit in an undead world of demons. Your loved one’s grave has been desecrated. From there, the player will fight through the corrupted lands, and bring peace to her soul. The game starts you off with no armor, no weapons, and at level one. Your goal is simple, bring peace to your love’s soul. You will level up in a partially procedurally generated world, find better armor, find better weapons, level up, kill demons and hordes of the undead, and eventually bring peace to your loves’ soul.
The game tries to play similarly to Zelda in many aspects, but there’s quite a few things that makes it differ, namely the times it doesn’t try to be Zelda, and instead tries to be Dark Souls. For one difference, you kill enemies automatically. While you can press the space bar or the A button on your controller to swing your sword or shoot arrows, the game will automatically attack the closest enemy with whatever weapon you have. You can also defend by holding down the attack button. The combat is simple, and in almost every aspect, too simple. We really wish there was something more to the combat, but there’s not. For example, sure you can use a bow, but why would you when it’s almost never as strong as the weapon you’re holding? And, unlike the melee weapons, the bow uses energy. Once you run out of energy, you have to wait until it replenishes. This both unnecessarily slows down gameplay, and slows down combat in general. Then the problem with the melee weapons, is that you almost never have to do anything strategic. The only boss we actually had to think about for any time at all was the end boss because his hits took out half of the player’s health. Other than that, by 45 minutes in, there wasn’t a thing in the game that could kill us, and that’s not a good thing. Especially not when the game is barely three hours long. The enemy variety is vast, and many of the designs are actually pretty interesting to look at.
Eventually, enemies will randomly drop one of two things; coins, or items. These ‘coins’ can be spent at certain caves randomly around the map in exchange for chests with nice armor or weapons, while finding items could be armor, jewelry, or weapons. There are a few special effects these items can have, but the vampire powers that allow you to steal health we found the only really nice bonus affect. Eventually when you level up, stats are automatically added to you. This is good in some aspects, but it largely defeats the purpose of leveling up if it’s done automatically, and it would have been better to just restrict usage of certain weapons and armor until you’re a high enough level. Eventually you’ll uncover areas on the map where you have to go into what could adequately be described as fortresses, kill some enemies, and then kill a boss. These areas are good to break up the monotony, but they themselves don’t really differ from one another. To put more bluntly, one fortress has no real difference from another except for a few minor details, and the enemies within. They can be changed up, but the theme of them never really changes, and thus aren’t differing enough to be memorable. The landscapes you traverse in while having different biomes, are both easy to get confused, and are easy to get lost in. It doesn’t help that the map in the corner is really too far zoomed in to really be of any help either. Once the player kills enough bosses, you’ll enter another world, kill a bunch of ghosts, kill the final two bosses, and that’s pretty much it. The story is lackluster, and is trying really hard to do something that’s simply over its head: making the player care. The biggest problem is progression. In the game because the leveling up process is automatic and borderline pointless, there’s few points of progression. The only two main ones are when you spawn, and when you enter the other world.
The similarities to Dark Souls comes across now because you can heal and check your stats at bonfires. Still, it’s nice during the first half-hour or so when enemies are a slight challenge, your health’s low, and you need to heal.
There’s just one catch to the game: you only have one life, technically. You see if you die in the main overworld, you have a chance to gain it back by finding your soul you dropped where you died. If you die and you can’t get your ‘soul’ back, you restart at level one, but you get to keep all your money. Kind of an odd way to do things, but not terrible we suppose. The main problem is that you really can’t die, at least, not easily. That’s not a good thing for a roguelike, especially not when the idea of roguelikes is risk vs reward, and challenge. By 45ish minutes into the game, we were as close to a god as humanly possible, and getting more and more armors that gave our character vampire powers didn’t help the challenge factor.
There’s also the problem of leveling and more standard ‘RPG elements’ that the game includes. When we mention that the leveling up process is borderline pointless, we should add that the majority of things you can improve are pointless. Basic things like damage, stamina, health, armor, etc are fine. However, what’s ‘Berserk’ ‘Spirit’ or ‘Constitution’? The only way you as the player can change things is through finding randomized armor and weapons that arbitrarily upgrade your skills and thus, you have no use in half of the skills. We still don’t know what the skill ‘Intelligence’ does, and the game isn’t keen to explaining any of these things. As a matter of fact, the entire menu has barely any options at all, and no explanation for what these things do in-game.
We certainly didn’t see any difference in playing between having ’14 spirit’ and ’22 spirit’. We thought that we were just doing something wrong, but we couldn’t find a single difference in having half of the skills differently. Even with armor at zero, the vampire armor and weapons that stole health from enemies negated all the effects. Maybe they have to do with using the ranged weapon, but we couldn’t figure it out.
While roguelike games now practically flood the market, it’s still a genre we quite enjoy. There are quite a few things Bit Dungeon II doesn’t get right, and in those terms, it could be quite fair to describe the game as a fairly mediocre game with potential. However, this is where the game is going to largely make it or break it for players. The game does some things fairly well, and combined with it’s cheap price tag, it could very well be an enticing buy for players, but it’s negatives could just as easily turn players away who are looking for a game with more refined gameplay. So, which side of the line do we fall on?
To start off, the visuals are great. We’re a sucker for pixel art and nice visuals, and this certainly at least fits the pixel art category. However, that’s not to say the visuals are amazing. They’re okay and get the job done, but it’s not really the levels or visuals themselves that are nice, but it all together as a package. The enemies and character designs specifically are really great and fun to just look at, and would fit right in a game like Dark Souls. The armor and weapon designs are great as well.
The audio is well done too. It’s not amazing by any means and it certainly doesn’t break any land records for in-game soundtracks, but it gets the job done. As we’ve said with most of the games we’ve reviewed recently, more tracks would be useful, but the ones present do at least present the player with a well-manufactured ambiance.
The controls were…okay. Both controller and keyboard we had no specific problem with, but really a problem with the control layout in general, like the fact that you have to hold the same button you attack with on controller to block. It’s both frustrating and unnecessary. For example on the controller besides the analog sticks, the player will only use a grand total of three buttons. It’s nothing players can’t get used to, but it’s not nearly as fun or as difficult as it could be. The settings you can/can’t change are also random at best. You have no rebindable keys which for a PC
Despite all these gripes, we still enjoyed the game. While the game has many shortcomings, few would be those that we’d consider to be really things to completely turn a gamer away, but certainly things for a gamer to consider. The game is still both fun and enjoyable for what it’s worth, and we enjoyed our time with the game. Sure, it did cost us $3.99, but that $3.99 earned us three hours of game. Was it worth replaying? Not particularly, but it was fun for what it’s worth, and the price tag helped. It’s by no means a great game, simply a game with many minor flaws that could be fixed. That being said, we’d still suggest the game to a fair degree. It does have flaws, and make no mistake that those flaws all together could easily turn players the other way around, but individually, those flaws could be seen as minor gripes in a simple, decent little Zelda meets Dark Souls lookalike with some oddly placed roguelike elements.
- – Nice visuals and character design
- – Short, but just long enough to get some fun out of
- – Audio is simple, but fitting and provides good ambiance
- – Level progression is pointless
- – you’re pretty much a god less than half-way through the game
- – settings are pathetically lackluster
- – Are you serious? There’s no quit button?