When it comes to retro gaming pixel glory, nothing really personifies this than the old Rouge-like style of games. Their blocky, pixelated worlds covered in a fog of war, with intriguing storylines and characters that you can create your own backstory for made for some great gaming memories. However, as technology has moved on (and boy, has it moved on), these kid of graphics became more and more a thing of the past.
However, in recent years this type and style of game has become popular with indie developers, leading to games like Dungeons of Chaos by Volker Elzner. Billed as a retro-inspired 2D RPG with a focus on exploration, choice and riddles, Dungeons of Chaos aims to recapture those memories that have laid dormant for so long. But does it manage to do that? Let’s take a look!
The storyline of Dungeons of Chaos is a pretty simple one, which really hearkens back to the old Rouge-like games. In essence, you create a team of 6 heroes who have to do battle against the big bad who had previously been banished.
This may sound a bit generic, but that’s not really the point. The base storyline is just that; a base. Your character choices throughout the game change and effect how things progress, meaning that the replay value of the game is really high, especially for an indy game. The dialogue that the various NPCs give is also really quite deep, with multiple conversation options available. This meant that I spent quite a bit of time reading through everything each seemingly random person had to say.
All in all, the storyline is rather complex, with a lot of detail and depth, and a great amount of attention to detail with each character, both playable and non-payable. However, Dungeons of Chaos isn’t trying to be the next The Last of Us. Instead, the storyline acts as a base upon which everything else is built, and upon which your imagination can create even more depth and detail.
Whilst the storyline of Dungeons of Chaos might not win any awards, that’s not really where the game’s focus seems to be. Instead, the developers have built a game that truly recreates the gameplay and feel of classic retro games. The turn based battle system plays a lot like the Lunar games, with enemies moving around a large battlefield scene. The use of automated battle tactics is highly remeniscent of the old Phantasy Star games on the Sega Mega Drive, and the menu itself reminds you of games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.
All of this combines to create an incredibly strong sense of nostalgia. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that Dungeons of Chaos is just trying to live off the ideas from these games. Instead, the developers have added their own flavour to the game.
The inclusion of more modern game design aspects, like character choices, helps Dungeons of Chaos to stand out on its own two legs.
As mentioned previously, the dialogue system is really detailed as well, and you’ll likely spend hours reading through every little thing to make sure you understand everything there is to learn. This is something that a lot of modern games tend to do very poorly, but Dungeons of Chaos pulled it out of the bag.
In the end, if you’re looking for a modern take on an absolutely classic gameplay formula, with a bunch of added extras, than you should definite give Dungeons of Chaos a try.
If you were to read some of the reviews on Steam for Dungeons of Chaos, you’d see a few of them saying that the graphics as a negative of the game. I disagree. Dungeons of Chaos is so heavily inspired by classic, Rouge-like retro games that the graphics actually suit it perfectly. The square block based maps would feel right at home in any of those classic games, and the character design is very well done.
It may take you a little while to get used to the lack of a walking animation for your character’s sprites, but again, that fits the style that the game is trying to replicate. The general graphics work really will and I was delighted to see such a complete and faithful drive to stay true to the classic style.
The only real let down is the user interface. Whilst it isn’t horrible, it does take some getting used to. The menu styling is quite obviously designed more for a touch screen than a keyboard and mouse, and that can feel a bit off at first.
However, it doesn’t really detract from the rest of the game, instead paying homage to the UI design from older games.
And That’s All Folks
Dungeons of Chaos manages to mix more modern game design tropes with a huge hit of nostalgia, with an engaging storyline and very strong gameplay. However, it is certainly not a game for everyone. If you’re into big, flashy graphics and fast paced, action-heavy games, then you probably won’t enjoy it. However, if you’re like me and you loved the old Rouge-like games (or even the old Dungeons and Dragons games on the Mega Drive) then this is definitely on to check out. Oh, and it’s available now on Steam!
The game is easy to pick up and get started with, but very hard to put down again. Just be aware that the user interface takes some getting used to.