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Dungeon Stompage!, by BerkaZerka

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Dungeon Stompage, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: BerkaZerka

General Recommendation. I strongly recommend playing this game. Easily the best single-player RPG on its site, and as far as I know, the internet.
Preview: Good old fashioned dungeon crawling. Face puzzles, monsters, succubi, and electric rats in your journey to defeat an evil sorcerer. The mechanics are excellent, and the plot and endings are quite clever too.


Basic Plot & Coherence:
In an RPG setting like this, the plot is theoretically unimportant, but here the detail given the the plot and setting really shines through. It’s a classic fantasy plot, big bad evil guy has evil magic book and evil magic fortress, must be stopped by intrepid young hero with the help of mysterious old wizard, and resisting the temptation of an evil succubus. But here, the interactive format allows these characters to flesh out and come to life, in a clever subversion of an ordinary fantasy plot.

Characters & Development:
Although largely the characters are vessels for the story, this category gets a 5 because they each serve their purpose. Kragan the wizard is simultaneously helpful and irritating, Lilianthea clearly has great and evil plans she’s trying to use you as a pawn in, even the dark elf lackey in his one scene makes a clear impression. Raven himself can go in vastly different directions depending on player choice. In the “normal” plot, he plays the “humble farm boy” trope straight, defeating the mad merodatch and saving the day, before proceeding to be successful in the rest of his life. But you can also play him as an arrogant aspiring dark mage, or an unwitting pawn in Lilianthea’s schemes. The flexibility the story provides is incredible.

I certainly didn’t notice any mistakes.
Mastery of Language:
Each of the character’s speaking style reveals lots of information about their personality. The narration has a colorful and entertaining way of presenting the various challenges and tests. In short, the tone contributes excellently to the story.

Mechanics & Coding:
Masterful. The battle mechanics provide meaningful choices to the player, and each puzzle has a logical and clever solution.

There are a surprisingly large amount of endings to this game, given its limited scope. The branching out of this story is almost ridiculous in its flexibility and coherence. Each of the endings comes about logically, and adds a new layer onto the character and the world. I’m impressed by just how much impact the player has over narrative outcome in a story that’s simultaniously clever with its puzzles and combat mechanics.

Player Options/Fair choice:
Each combat and puzzle provides the player with multiple approaches and ways to tackle the problem. Nothing ever feels forced. The use of items is also masterful.
Never does it feel like the consequences of a choice weren’t accurately foreshadowed.

Nitpicks: The “bone head death” puzzle at the end has multiple solutions and many of them (the ones I tried) don’t work. I eventually had to use the answer key Berka posted somewhere.

I really enjoyed this. I tend to prefer more narrative games over more mechanical ones, but this hit the sweet spot. Each page was engaging, the challenges were well constructed and fun, and the combat system managed to be entertaining as well, despite consisting of clicking repeated links. Unlike a lot of similar games, this has a lot of replay value, particularly for trying to find new endings. I've finally found all the game's endings, which is satisfying.

There are very few compliments I can give that I haven’t already given. One of the best interactive fiction games out there.

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