Dungeons of Antur

by Ricardo Oyon Rodriguez

2021

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
DoA is definitely not DOA, April 28, 2021

It's been done before, combining an RPG with a text adventure, but Dungeons of Antur (DoA) wound up performing much better than other text adventure and RPG hybrids I've played. Adventuron is partly responsible for that, but the author definitely did a lot of things right. Once I got out of "it's been done before" mode I realized this is the sort of game I'd have really enjoyed when I was 12, with or without the tutorial. A tutorial which notified me that tab-completion would help me cycle through all valid verbs. Since the competition explicitly wanted tutorials, and I had trouble guessing one verb (the author has since fixed this,) I was quite pleased to be able to approach future Adventuron games knowing verb-guessing would be less critical.

DoA's not huge--it might be exhausting that way. It has alternate endings. It has a few puzzles. It has strategy. It's randomized each time through. It even has an interesting NPC at the end. And I can't say DoA has a huge, overarching story. It's well put together, though, and it doesn't make mistakes. It's supposed to be sort of a demo for Adventuron's tutorials and a sequel, and I think it fits well.

As for specifics without spoilers: the puzzles and atmosphere are more the focus here. There's a grate that shuts down as soon as you enter the room, something to fish out from a well, and another grate that doesn't seem to have any mechanism at all. Skeletons contain messages in their bony hands. There's a secret room you should be able to find if you pay attention to the tutorial and another that requires a bit more trickery. Some weapons work better against certain monsters. You have armor and a few healing devices.

The graphics above the text give you a good view of the room or the enemy, along with your current stats. While a status line could display all this information, it wouldn't look as nice, and it'd feel a bit intrusive, too. DoA wasn't the only Literacy Jam game that gave me the feeling that, hey, I could make something attractive with lots of user-friendly features in Adventuron, but it managed to be a legitimate RPG and convinced me I could maybe stretch Adventuron's bounds to do my own thing.

As mentioned above, I do wish there were more games like DoA when I was a kid. But instead I figured I'd better be happy with what I got: Infocom games that blocked me at the first tough puzzle, but then again, if I could finish them too early, I'd have nothing left to play.

I used to be quite impressed with adults being able to make games hard, but as I've grown older, I'm more impressed with programmers who pace their games well, and DoA is an example. I got stuck often enough to feel challenge, but it wasn't frustrating. The battles are also well-balanced. It's possible you'll get wiped out, but saving and restoring is part of the general RPG procedure. In fact, there's one battle near the end where you almost certainly will get wiped out if you don't have a good think.

Finally, the writer deserves credit for doing a great job maintaining the game. They've made several bug fixes, small and large. And while anyone who writes a game in something other than their first language deserves approval for their courage, the author was quick to fix the sort of grammar nuisances that even native English speakers mess up. That bodes well for the potential sequel mentioned at the game's end.