Dungeon Rats Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Independent
Developer:Iron Tower Studio
Release Date:2016-11-04
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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In particular, alchemy and crafting help you overcome the longest of odds. With alchemy you create a variety of helpful concoctions that increase your AP, allow you to do more damage, or even make you regenerate, as well as an array of offensive tools like poisons, bottles of Liquid Fire, or vials of acid. As for crafting, you can copy the schematics of everything you find in the field, and recreate those items later but with a few beneficial modifications and using better materials. Since there's no trading in the game, you have to rely on crafting to stay competitive with your opposition. And even though usually I tend to avoid crafting in games like the plague, in Dungeon Rats it's quite tolerable and its benefits far outweigh the hassle.

The scarcity of healing resources is also something to keep in mind. You regain health by consuming rations or by using healing salves. Both of these things are limited in their availability, and the bigger your party is, the faster your resources dwindle, so be mindful of going overboard with healing.

Story

The story in Dungeon Rats is not exactly intricate. You're thrown into the depths of an underground prison/mine and have to fight the gangs that run the place and various denizens of the dungeon in order to regain your freedom. Somewhere in the background there's also a sub-plot about a magus performing some mysterious things but all in all, the story is there just to get you from point A to point B and not distract you too much from all the fighting.

Perhaps this is my personal preference, but even with such a minimalistic plot I quite enjoy Iron Tower Studio's writing. The general exposition, the infrequent conversations, and even your companions blabbering about their sordid pasts and how they got imprisoned are all nicely written. The combat barks, filled with abundant expletives, on the other hand, feel anachronistic and out of place in this world of post-post-apocalyptic Romans.

Despite its linear story, the game has four total endings. And while three of them are mostly cosmetic and depend on your Charisma score, the fourth one lies a bit off the beaten track. It's not exactly well-hidden, but on my first playthrough I did manage to miss it.

Technical Information

Dungeon Rats reuses the engine and many of AoD's assets. As a result, it looks, sounds, and plays about the same. Save and load times are still fast, the visuals and audio are serviceable, and the game provides a stable gaming experience. On my two playthroughs, I've not encountered any crashes or major bugs.

The game does have some minor issues here and there, however. Occasionally, a texture doesn't fit exactly right, and some interactions, like poisoning arrows, can be unintuitive. Setting up characters before the fight can be a bit clunky if you select them by clicking on their portraits and not on the character models.

Beyond the game's engine and stability, some gameplay options are never mentioned, despite an extensive reference document available right in the game. For example, the game fails to tell you that crossbows are the only weapon type that doesn't rely on Strength for their damage, or that antidotes act as inoculation against poison and are not simply counteracting it. Depending on your feelings toward this sort of thing, that could be perceived as a positive (mystery!) or a negative (confusion!).

Conclusion

Dungeon Rats may be a game without a wide scope or some grand ambition, but what it does, it does well. If you enjoy the combat in The Age of Decadence, or intricate turn-based combat in general, Dungeon Rats has that in spades. It doesn't reach for the stars, and as a result, it delivers a solid, focused, enjoyable experience that will put your tactical skills to the test.