Hiroyuki Ito returns to the helm for the first time since Final Fantasy 12 in another brilliant examination of RPG fundamentals.
The Japanese role-playing game stripped back to its bare essentials and yet rather than an exercise in nostalgic pandering this is one of the most compelling and sharply designed dungeon crawlers of recent years.
Give it a shot, and once you get into it, you might see it the way I do: as a gripping, strategic adventure that is not only a game but a celebration of one of the great innovations of the turn-based RPG genre.
Dungeon Encounters is a hardcore experience, that some will dismiss as overly simple. More fool them.
As a Mechanics-First style of game, Dungeon Encounters offers little to entice players that aren't already fans of Final Fantasy's Active Time Battle from yesteryear. What surrounds that dungeon crawling experience is threadbare but established fans can use what's there and chart their own paths.
When your only motivation to continue is to see just how far down a tiled dungeon you can get, I became exhausted. I Love the combat system. The amount of weapons and armor you can equip your party members is great. But by not providing any story or character motivation, I became weary of the game. The repetitive music fit perfectly with the same look and feel on floor one as it did on floor 24. While I enjoyed the mechanics and searching, the somber feel of Dungeon Encounters made me realize why they don't quite make them like they used to.
RPGs have been an ever-evolving genre for years, and while most developers strive to introduce some new details to innovate, Dungeon Encounters follows the path of hardcore minimalism. The result is a game that looks outdated and with rusty game mechanics, sold at a price that is everything but minimal. It offers a couple of interesting details but also wild grinding, very repetitive gameplay, and poor graphics. We should expect more than that from Square Enix.
Review in Italian | Read full review
Dungeon Encounters is a masterstroke of game design, character and narrative – it's storytelling in the way only games can be. It teaches how scale is felt in a game, and it teaches, through their absence, the roles of rich visuals and verbose storytelling. Next time we play an RPG with baroque graphics and forests of text, we will understand a little more deeply where a game's atmosphere really comes from.
Dungeon Encounters is a certain type of RPG for a certain type of person. If you are a numbers-nerd who favors battles over story, this might be for you.
Dungeon Encounters is a thought-provoking experiment directed by a titan of game development and its minimalist presentation allows the player to stare straight into the face of the craft of game design. While not for everyone, anyone with a shred of interest owes it to themself to check this game out.
With some serious talent behind its creation, Dungeon Encounters deserves much more fanfare than it has so far received. This might not be as flashy as a typical RPG from Square Enix, but it’s clever, it’s engaging, and its simple but deceptively deep gameplay loop will keep you coming back for more. Add to that a killer soundtrack overseen by Nobuo Uematsu, and you’ve got something rather special on your hands.
Dungeon Encounters is deceptive engaging. What seems at first to be a no-frills dungeon crawler, sliced back to its very minimum eventually reveals itself to be quite the clever little project. It provides the very basic foundation needed for a JRPG, and then gets out of the way, letting the player write their own story and fill in the metaphoric (and literal) blanks in their own way. That makes it an oddly cathartic experience.
I'm addicted to the rewarding feeling of getting my ass kicked by some flying critter, only to line up two shots with gun attacks and take that dumb thing out of the world or, if I bust out that urn, send them to another dimension. If you're looking for an epic, grand story with a vibrant presentation, you won't find that here. But if you just want raw and engrossing exploration and turn-based combat, Dungeon Encounters delivers in spades.
The tricky thing about Dungeon Encounters is that it’s an engaging game. I found myself saying I would do one more floor a couple of times before realizing I had to stop. But, by the same token, there are plenty of games with deeper mechanics and more to it than a board and boxes fighting one another. For this reason, I think it appeals to people who love the imaginative side of Dungeon and Dragons, but many RPG fans will likely find the lack of practically anything boring. After a while, you just realize you’re swapping numbers, with a team eventually winning or losing.
Dungeon Encounters is an RPG that goes beyond the norm and offers us a title where minimalism is elevated to the maximum expression. The lack of work on the visuals and the plot makes it a difficult game to digest, but the combat system is well worked and the tile system is entertaining.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
There’s so much to Dungeon Encounters. People might not even notice at a first glance. But the systems at play are so compelling and rewarding. Finding a new item. Beating a party of foes that stumped you before. Managing to track down a wandering adventure. Saving a party of fallen allies that died earlier because you overestimated your abilities. It’s enthralling.
There’s so much magic in Dungeon Encounters. I only pray people find the time out of the heavy influx of games to give this one a shot. If you do, you’re in for an amazing ride.
The strength of Dungeon Encounters is not in its art, but in its science. It is a unique and competent RPG in the role it proposes: to be a game focused on the mechanical essence of a dungeon crawler while reinventing the way of thinking about exploration and combat dynamics in games of this style. This is an RPG recommended for fans of the genre who especially appreciate the science behind dungeon crawlers in creative interactions between combat mechanics and group management with unique dungeon exploration.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review