To help bide our time between the release of The Age of Decadence and The New World, the team at Iron Tower Studio set forth to deliver us Dungeon Rats, a combat-focused and somewhat bite-sized RPG that could build upon The Age of Decadence's assets while still standing on its own merits. The game debuted late last year, and we've finally gotten around to checking it out in this three-page review. A sampling:
Don't go into Dungeon Rats expecting exemplary level design, confusing labyrinths, and fighting for your life while searching for the correct tunnel that would lead you to your next moment of respite. Well, there's plenty of fighting, but it's conducted in a more linear fashion. Sure, there are some side areas and optional fights and when they are there, you better believe there's going to be a convenient way to backtrack there at a later time, but this doesn't really help with the game's lack of sense of exploration that, in my mind, is an essential part of a satisfying dungeon-crawling experience.
The general progression in Dungeon Rats can be condensed to something like: you enter an area, you roam around for a bit collecting mushrooms, mining ore, and stripping down the bodies of those who came before you, then you stumble onto a fight. Rinse and repeat. And while this is as barebones as it gets when it comes to exploration, I still prefer it to something of, say, Blackguards, where you don't even get the pretense of having control over your characters outside of combat. I like wandering about in the wild, picking up loot, and searching abandoned campsites. It may not be much, but I appreciate that Dungeon Rats at least tried. It sure beats clicking on nodes and getting immediately thrown into the thick of combat. And combat is something Dungeon Rats shines at.