Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus (or D:TED for short) is a retro-inspired hack & slash that draws inspiration from Golden Axe, 90s Konami beatemups, and even a little Battletoads (at least the most infamous part). Boasting three playable characters, a multitude of adversaries to slay, and a lot of humor, does D:TED deliver?
Well.....You saw the big fat thumbs down didn't you?
First off let me start by saying I become a real jerk when it comes to reviewing beatemups, hack & slashers, and similar belt-scrolling games. Some children were raised by wolves, I was raised by arcade machines. I know what to expect out of the genre and I hate it when certain essential elements aren't properly handled.
D:TED clocks in at less than an hour, potentially less than 45 minutes if cut-scenes are skipped. This is a good length for an arcade-styled beatemup. This isn't supposed to be Castle Crashers where there are dozens of stages, experience points, and tons of weapons that are +1 here and -1 there. A fair number of bosses have to be contended with, and they require different strategies in order for the player to succeed. Enemy variety is also pretty solid, which is rare for the genre and always welcome.
The three playable characters consist of a barely-clothed drunk who angers easily, a thief(harlot?) who swings daggers, and the cleric that throws fireballs and summons a fire-breathing chicken. I didn't know clerics could do that, but I guess it depends on what God they're trying to convince everyone to worship. Whatever the case, this line-up is diverse enough to satisfy any play-style.
But now we have to get to the main failing of D:TED. The complete lack of proper mechanics. The life-blood of the beatemup (or any game for that matter) is in the mechanics. It's a catch-all term that accounts for all the rules the game has to follow. Mechanics could be what constitutes the player doing or taking damage, the height and arc of the jump, or determining whether a sword that is swung at two monsters registers a hit on one or both. When the mechanics are faulty, the entire game suffers, and all the good decisions and intriguing game-design in the world can't save it.
Basically, all deadly objects don't even have to touch the player to do damage. I've been hit by everything from flying kobold toddlers to rainbow hearts, even though on-screen they weren't even close. I've killed orks despite the blades of my daggers missing them by several feet. A flying boss takes far longer than it should due to constant misses. These occurences add up and the game ceases to be enjoyable. If you're going to play this game I recommend the Cleric. Thanks to his projectiles I don't have to deal with the crapshoot that is the melee-based combat.
D:TED has promise, good ideas, and its own unique story and characters, but the execution simply isn't there. I couldn't get any enjoyment out of the game. YMMV