Runestone Keeper is a roguelike dungeon crawler that blends classic RPG elements and turn based strategy. Heroes, monsters, equipment, events, magic and skills, traps and devices, shrines and altars, Goddesses and merchants. Choose your weapon and begin an epic adventure!
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (52 reviews) - 88% of the 52 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (1,314 reviews) - 90% of the 1,314 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Mar 2, 2015

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Recent updates View all (16)

May 25

Version 1.4.0 - Major Update



Introducing new heroes Morte and Dellamorey.

Mort from the graveyard and Dellamorey who works in the graveyard has now joined Runestone Keeper as the latest heroes, along with varies antiques and items digged from the graveyard!

[New items]
  • Bomb
    Deals ATK equivalent damage to all monsters

  • Soul Lantern
    + (soul * 5) experience

  • Magiclust Worm
    + (magic * 10) life

  • Black Fire Blade
    Deals memory loss to one monster and removes its skills

  • Strange box monster
    Transforms two other items into soul

  • Goblin in bottle
    Summons a goblin that virulently attacks another monster

  • Pocket watch
    Kills one elite monster

  • Medusa's skull
    Petrifies all monsters on the screen

  • Gravedigger's shovel
    Digs a square

  • Forsaken Skull
    Reduces 50% attack power of all monsters
[New skills]
  • Revenge
    Undertakes next attack but returns double damage to the attacking monster

  • Piercing wind
    Removes the shield of 1-5 random monsters on the screen

  • Prophet
    Locates 1-5 monsters or traps on the map
Also an important hidden feature has been added to the game, now players will be able seek info on our next product in the game.

Various bug fixes.

19 comments Read more

March 17

Version 1.3.0 - Hero Update

Greetings adventurers of the dungeon.

We are pleased to introduce 2 new heroes to Runestone Keeper and the language support for Russian today. May they bring you a new experience along your epic journey!

[Details]

Hero - Added 2 heroes
  • Balerio
    Being half-human half-dragon saved Balerio’s life on many occasions. He has always been confused about the world that surrounds him, and the only thing his mother left him was a rare ruby; the only clue he now possesses on his existence.

  • Lilith
    The warlock that summoned Lilith into this world was weak and was easily taken care of by the succubus. She is now thinking about either looking for a new, powerful master, or going back in the Netherworld. She finally found her purpose when she heard about the mysterious power hidden within the Runestone Dungeon.

Misc
  • Added language support for Russian
  • Various bug fixes

16 comments Read more

About This Game

Runestone Keeper is a challenging roguelike to roguelite dungeon crawler that blends classic role playing elements and turn-based combat strategy.

Dive into the dungeon roguelite-ness and begin your very own epic adventure! Grab your rucksack, sharpen those dusty swords, step into the dark chamber and fight for glory!

[Features]

  • Randomly Generated Dungeon Elements – Almost everything is generated differently each time to ensure a unique experience!

  • Prefix and Suffix Based Equipment – Loots come with random yet rare prefixes and suffixes. Combat, collect and combine for a killer suit!

  • Diverse Monster Mixes - Tread lightly, or be ganged upon by monsters with complementary abilities that might drive you crazy.

  • Items, Traps, Devices and Events - Opportunities for a favorable turn even at the most desperate moment. Choose wisely and use the unwelcoming surroundings to your advantage!

  • Heroes and Goddesses – Create your hero’s attributes build! Sacrifice to receive your mighty God’s blessing (and later betray him to check out his fury)!

  • Modes and Leaderboards - Multiple modes to choose from and a global ranking system to check yourself among all the dungeon adventurers.

  • A Challenging Experience - Prepare to have a tragic (not to mention permanent) death ;)

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10
    • Processor: Pentium 4 3.0GHz or higher
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon 2400 / NVIDIA 8600M / Intel HD Graphics 3000 or higher
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 512 MB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
    Minimum:
    • OS: MacOS X 10.8 or higher
    • Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz or higher
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon 2400 / NVIDIA 8600M / Intel HD Graphics 3000 or higher
    • Storage: 512 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Not recommended for Intel GMA Graphics or Mac Minis or early-generation MacBooks
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Recent:
Very Positive (52 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (1,314 reviews)
Recently Posted
Highway-Superstar
( 9.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 27
The game's fun, but gets a little bit annoying. You might suddenly end up dead from a really good run, which is nice because you NEED to die a couple of times in order to progress further down in the dungeons. It's mindnumblingly grindy. You do get better at the game, but even then you only learn to minimize risk, to supress the 100%ter inside of you and go for small, reasonable plays.

Sometimes you step down into a dungeon grid and the game simply gives you a 0% chance to survive. It might be that there are a dozen poison traps waiting for you and you know that in three more actions you're dead, or it might be that the monster abilities work together to make them impossible to kill without some specific item, that you couldn't have known you needed and had a small chance of picking up in the first place.

... why do I recommend this game again?

Helpful? Yes No Funny
Halfling Virgin Ѿ
( 7.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
Excellent easy-to-pickup roguelike. I am addicted to Rogue's Tale, and I actually saw this game on sale while playing it. I bought this game, and am now addicted to it!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
EternaTea
( 41.3 hrs on record )
Posted: June 9
Swamped with spelling and grammar errors, bugs and inconsistent item effects. as well as a terrible UI and nonsensical play mechanics.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
-[FF]- Lady Jan Itor
( 3.8 hrs on record )
Posted: June 6
The game is fun and plays similar to Desktop Dungeons except it can ♥♥♥♥ clear off with its RNG ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t.

Just now playing it and I got about 55 hp and an attack damage of 11/9 (<-- Dual Wielding so the numbers are for each weapon) and have a ghost with 20 hp that does 11 damage. I click him once to attack. Miss. Click him again. Miss. Click again. Miss. Click once more. Miss. Click for one more time and bam. I died.

Go ♥♥♥♥ yourself.

Get it but wait for a discount just to tell the dev to eat ♥♥♥♥

/end super salty rant
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Hackworth
( 5.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 5
A bare-bones roguelike with a legacy system. To progress, you reveal tiles on a square grid, which can hide monsters, traps, usable items or various shops. Your character does not have an avatar, and monsters do not move around; attacking an enemy is simply done through clicking it. This results in fast-paced gameplay, which makes the game surprisingly addictive. There are loot drops, a magic system, gods to worship for various bonuses, and random quest events, which are always a series of dialog choices that can result in good or bad outcomes.

I do recommend the game, but caution that it contains some very strong RNG. There's no way to avoid all the traps, and some levels are just paved with toxin traps that will quickly build up to a lethal does, and you will die. Sometimes there are ranged boss monsters with as much attack as your health that will literally oneshot you no matter how healthy or well-equipped you are, and if you dont happen to have an instakill item, you will die. Those elements taint an otherwise tough, but relatively fair game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Kay
( 56.2 hrs on record )
Posted: June 3
Product received for free
This game is really my cup my tea that i have never met the challenge. Getting equipments and gradually becimming a big boss usually costs me nearly 2hours but only date back to the newbie for your once failure which is really challenging.11hours is just beginnimg,To become a skiller,much more time needed.Well,Gods bless me that i can surivive to the final battle.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
KrudlerTheHorse
( 64.3 hrs on record )
Posted: June 2
Very few games culture the feeling in me that I just can't stop playing. This one does it big-time!

There is a very high return of fun for the minimal purchase price.

While the game-play is outstanding, the graphics are absolutely masterful. I am generally not one to point out good graphics before I point out good game-play, but here I am just blown away - I can't stress that enough.

To my mind they are so masterful they should hold a place of their own in the progression of the craft of game art. (The artist has employed a "dual-resolution" pixel graphic technique I have never seen before, and it works to absolutely breathtaking effect).

Buy this. Buy this game. Buy it and play the *BLEEP* out of it

-------------------

edit:

In the interest of expanding my review into specific likes/dislikes:

This game is, at it's core, a very innovative grid-based puzzle and resource-management game. As you reveal tiles the play field evolves, and the player is required to continually evaluate and re-evaluate what is their most optimal move at any given time or state of the play field.

Every foe on the battlefield affects the other foes in interesting ways, and there are a wide range of upgrade branches for the player in terms of stats/skills/equipment. There are Gods to worship, shrines to socket, buffing tattoos, runestones to hoarde/upgrade, etc, etc, etc each with a unique effect and pro/con the player needs to evaluate.

It's really fun for me because I enjoy thinking deeply about my moves in a game, but also in maintaining the certain fluidity of thinking that this game requires - because new elements are continually entering play.

At first blush the interface itself looks like typical "pixel" graphics which are all-too-common these days and can -sometimes- be a red-flag indicating bad game play covered up with nifty retro slop - well this is not the case at all with RuneStone Keeper. I find the graphics are masterfully and intentionally designed to be looked at for long play sessions without requiring too much focus or strain on the eyes. The instant, and I mean instant you look at a tile you can recognize it and remember its effects. A studious eye will notice multiple visual layers in the UI and see where the artist has actually "broken the rules" of pixel art and changed resolutions with larger/smaller stroke(s). It is effing genius because it works on an emotional "looks beautiful" level and also on a gorgeously-functional level.

[[ That's enough of my personal feelings on that subject but the last thing I want to say is that I feel many discerning UI lovers would get a real pleasure from seeing and interacting with this game besides the fact that the mechanics are also brilliant. ]]

There are some minor flaws that I hope are corrected. At times the left/right clicks required for actions like closing dialogs are not efficient or intuitive. Sometimes elements like scroll lists are very hard to "grab" and scroll you have to find just the right pixel to click. Some of the icons for the one-time use items are very un-intuitive - three of them look nearly identical and I forget their effects constantly for that reason.

But all in all this game for me and my preferences, will remain in my top 20 of all time for a loooooong time I think. Win!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Argentine134678
( 22.5 hrs on record )
Posted: May 29
A good roguelike that delivers what it promises.

Nice balance between simple mechanics (it plays with just the mouse) and different game possibilities according to which character you use.
It motivates you to play it over and over again to keep unlocking new characters and upgrades (a greater chance of finding runes, more souls for tile, better prices, etc.).
I just finished for the first time a dungeon in normal difficulty: it took me 22.5 hours, and I still have lots to unlock.
Furthermore, it has recently been upgraded, adding new characters, items and balance changes, which seems to point out that the developers are very much keeping it alive and interesting.

Recommended.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Driver
( 4.5 hrs on record )
Posted: May 5
A rogue-like with casual turn-based gameplay - but deceptively complex and deep. Constantly rewarding thanks to lots of unlocks.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ultimate "wu"
( 2.7 hrs on record )
Posted: April 29
As a roguelite, this game is essentially about luck and grinding. You need to spend many times on collecting coins and runestones to prepare for a serious run. And if you're not lucky enough, you just lose since you can do nothing about the probability. Thanks to gorgeous pixel graphics the game makes me to play over and over again. Good timekiller that you don't need to think too much about deep game mechanics.

8/10 would play again.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
64.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 2
Very few games culture the feeling in me that I just can't stop playing. This one does it big-time!

There is a very high return of fun for the minimal purchase price.

While the game-play is outstanding, the graphics are absolutely masterful. I am generally not one to point out good graphics before I point out good game-play, but here I am just blown away - I can't stress that enough.

To my mind they are so masterful they should hold a place of their own in the progression of the craft of game art. (The artist has employed a "dual-resolution" pixel graphic technique I have never seen before, and it works to absolutely breathtaking effect).

Buy this. Buy this game. Buy it and play the *BLEEP* out of it

-------------------

edit:

In the interest of expanding my review into specific likes/dislikes:

This game is, at it's core, a very innovative grid-based puzzle and resource-management game. As you reveal tiles the play field evolves, and the player is required to continually evaluate and re-evaluate what is their most optimal move at any given time or state of the play field.

Every foe on the battlefield affects the other foes in interesting ways, and there are a wide range of upgrade branches for the player in terms of stats/skills/equipment. There are Gods to worship, shrines to socket, buffing tattoos, runestones to hoarde/upgrade, etc, etc, etc each with a unique effect and pro/con the player needs to evaluate.

It's really fun for me because I enjoy thinking deeply about my moves in a game, but also in maintaining the certain fluidity of thinking that this game requires - because new elements are continually entering play.

At first blush the interface itself looks like typical "pixel" graphics which are all-too-common these days and can -sometimes- be a red-flag indicating bad game play covered up with nifty retro slop - well this is not the case at all with RuneStone Keeper. I find the graphics are masterfully and intentionally designed to be looked at for long play sessions without requiring too much focus or strain on the eyes. The instant, and I mean instant you look at a tile you can recognize it and remember its effects. A studious eye will notice multiple visual layers in the UI and see where the artist has actually "broken the rules" of pixel art and changed resolutions with larger/smaller stroke(s). It is effing genius because it works on an emotional "looks beautiful" level and also on a gorgeously-functional level.

[[ That's enough of my personal feelings on that subject but the last thing I want to say is that I feel many discerning UI lovers would get a real pleasure from seeing and interacting with this game besides the fact that the mechanics are also brilliant. ]]

There are some minor flaws that I hope are corrected. At times the left/right clicks required for actions like closing dialogs are not efficient or intuitive. Sometimes elements like scroll lists are very hard to "grab" and scroll you have to find just the right pixel to click. Some of the icons for the one-time use items are very un-intuitive - three of them look nearly identical and I forget their effects constantly for that reason.

But all in all this game for me and my preferences, will remain in my top 20 of all time for a loooooong time I think. Win!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.5 hrs on record
Posted: June 24
Excellent easy-to-pickup roguelike. I am addicted to Rogue's Tale, and I actually saw this game on sale while playing it. I bought this game, and am now addicted to it!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
56.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 3
Product received for free
This game is really my cup my tea that i have never met the challenge. Getting equipments and gradually becimming a big boss usually costs me nearly 2hours but only date back to the newbie for your once failure which is really challenging.11hours is just beginnimg,To become a skiller,much more time needed.Well,Gods bless me that i can surivive to the final battle.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 6
The game is fun and plays similar to Desktop Dungeons except it can ♥♥♥♥ clear off with its RNG ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t.

Just now playing it and I got about 55 hp and an attack damage of 11/9 (<-- Dual Wielding so the numbers are for each weapon) and have a ghost with 20 hp that does 11 damage. I click him once to attack. Miss. Click him again. Miss. Click again. Miss. Click once more. Miss. Click for one more time and bam. I died.

Go ♥♥♥♥ yourself.

Get it but wait for a discount just to tell the dev to eat ♥♥♥♥

/end super salty rant
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
109 of 148 people (74%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
57.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 31, 2015
This could have be a thumb-up if the game was named "Casino Keeper" or "Clot-Machine Keeper", But sadly, it is not, so despite the fact that I invested 40 hours on this game already, I would seriously not recommend this game as a roguelike game. (Still an entertaining game though)

Many reviews here have related it to the Minesweeper, which is definitely incorrect. Now imaging a version of Minesweeper without the number tile to indicate the amount of surrounding mines, instead, you start with a certain amount of HP, while each click will deplete a small random amount of it, occasionally (also randomly), you will get your HP replenished. You just keep clicking randomly, until you have finally exhausted all HP or stepped on a mine. This, is basically a minimized model of what this game is about.
So, if it is Minesweeper you are looking for, go buy the Hexcells series, that's what a real "Enhanced Minesweeper" should be.

However, one thing is true, Runestone Keeper is quite an addictive game like everyone else has agreed here, but addiction is never the guarantee of a great video game as well.

As is gambling.

I had a fever for roguelike or roguelike-like or roguelite games - whatever you name it - (I have fully achievemented most well-known roguelite games, so at least the following review is not from a noob's perspective)
The charm of roguelite games, in my opinion, is how to improvise under different random scenarios (tough ones mostly), and overcome them with all the strategies and skills you have learned from countless previous failures.
Yes, death is everywhere in roguelite games, but in good roguelite games, every death can provides you a sense of improvement, you (as the player not your in-game character) will actually learn alot alone with every death. New strategies, skills and tricks will be gradually learnt to overcome all those seemingly impossible situations generated by bad luck. You will realize that there are always multiple ways to avoid it after each death, it is yourself to be blamed instead of the RNG itself.
But such sense of improvement is absolutely absent in Runestone Keeper, and there are always more improperly designed mechanisms I'd like to blame than myself.

Now we are talking about Luck, of course luck is essentially involved in all roguelite games, so I tend to use a "Luck ration" when evaluating roguelite games, which is "How many percentages of luck will be needed for a decent play session (unnecessarily completed)".
In those best also the most well-known roguelite games, for example, The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, Crypt of The Necrodancer, this “Luck ratio” is definitely lower than 20%, and that’s why it is even possible for skilled players to do a low% run in those titles.
Among those less good roguelite games, like Risk of Rain, this ration might be around 50%.
What’s the difference?
Firstly, for example, in The Binding of Isaac, even the most powerful items will turn into craps when combined with wrong ones, while items with negative effects can occasionally become totally overpowered when combined with the right ones. There isn’t an absolute good or bad item, they were just “different”. Oppositely, in Risk of Rain, there are only useless items, good items and awesome items, no strategy was involved in the decision, all you need to do was just stack more and more items as no bad consequence will result anyway.
Secondly, most random elements in The Binding of Isaac can be manipulated or influenced by player’s action, e.g. the spawn chance of demon room and angel room. Such sense of subjective manipulation is also absent in Risk of Rain.
That’s why I think The Binding of Isaac is a better game than The Risk of Rain, for it has two things that Risk of Rain doesn’t have: One is Strategy, including resource management, subjective manipulation on RNG etc. The other one is “Play Style”, which is also something fundamental in most classical action games, like Devil May Cry.

Well, let’s come back to Runestone Keeper, what’s the “Luck Ratio” in this case? More than 85% even conservatively estimated, I would say.
Strategies only play a very limited role in Runestone Keeper, and most of them were quite superficial and obvious that can easily be comprehended by any player in the first 2 hours.
After that, all you can do is just keep restarting again and again, until you’re finally lucky enough to grind out all the right combinations (equipment, items, traps and enemy settings) at the right times.
While bad luck only means a harder time in other roguelite games, it usually guarantees a certain death in this game. There was an excessive amount of unsolvable facepunching death trap in this game, Yes, I know, I know, they are still solvable somehow with either skill A or item B or equipment C or ABC combined, however, acquiring those ABC stuff (at the right time) requires nothing but sheer luck as well. And there is nothing you can actually do about its RNG besides praying.
A good game is all about experience, but the gaming experience provided by Runestone Keeper was consisted solely by three things: Praying – Clicking – Restarting
This is why I think this Runestone Keeper is more a gambling than a game. There is no doubt that gambling is still an addictive and engaging activity, but I don’t think anyone would agree that gambling is a good example for video game design except some mobile game developers.

So, as a conclusion: if you prefer gambling more than an actual game, and tend to rely more on your luck instead of skill, this Runestone Keeper might be your thing, otherwise, there were just way too many better titles in the roguelite category.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
59 of 73 people (81%) found this review helpful
8 people found this review funny
Recommended
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 23, 2015
A very interesting, unique, deceptively simple game.

Check out the game in action with my Build-A-Review

Pro:
_Nice, clean art style: Looks good with its own art style. Nice character portraits as well. Isn't really bombastic, but does look unique and coherent.
_Unique: The gameplay is something else altogether. It's hard to align this to any specific genre.
_Satisfying gameplay: It's very simple stuff, but clicking on tiles to explore them feels satisfying in the way that popping bubble wraps is satisfying, if that makes sense. It's like fapping, it's hard to explain, but try it for yourself and you'll see immediately why it's so great.
_Rogue-lite: It's a Rogue-like with persistent upgrades that effects your future runs. That was fun in Rogue Legacy, it's fun in here.
_Difficult: It's hard, but never truly feels unfair.
_Deceptively simple: It's deceptively simple, but with an underlining devilishness that is very, very rogue-like. The game isn't afraid to troll you.
_Great pacing: Short runs (Lasts about 20-30 mins on average), but you'll be playing it over and over. It's really easy to lose track of time playing this game.

Cons:
_Could use more art assets: The art is nice, but there's not enough of it... I'll be honest, I'm just nit-picking here. I can't really think of anything negative to say.

Is it worth 10 bucks? You bet your sweet ♥♥♥. It's fun, unique, easy to pick up, hard to master. It's very addictive and interesting. Buy it, you won't regret it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
31 of 34 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
9.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 1, 2015
Although the game is certainly rich both in interesting interactions as well as design flaws, it is hard not to recommend Runestone Keeper at its price point, which is set perfectly.

I will state this first: the game will repeatedly put you in positions where you are set to lose, without any possibilities of recovery. You will often look back from that point and realize that there was nothing you could have done to save yourself. It is expected that this does not frustrate you as you still "progress" by spending the collected gold on upgrades afterwards.

As it currently stands, Runestone Keeper is a very accessible rogue-lite game that offers challenging experiences ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. It is alright at everything it does, your play sessions will sway rapidly between mild fun and curiosity and slight annoyance. Its distinguishment comes from the fact that even with its current flaws, it is very close to a very polished and satisfying experience.

The main weakness is balance and polish, numbers don't seem to work well with eachother which makes a few of the in-game systems and interactions useless. Your main source of continuous progress is gold - still the game asks absurd prices for single-use items, synthetizing runes and mediocre equipment - thus rendering all three almost useless. The "gold-making" upgrades and gods are also mostly a waste, either never being able to return its own cost or taking too long to do so.

The starting class is bad when compared to the other two, still it matters not much. Most losses come from impossible scenarios - although your first deaths will most likely be to bad planning - where suddenly a "winning" run stumbles upon special rooms designed to kill you unless you meet very specific criteria, which are often simply not a possibility.

Overall it is a decent product, for a good price, and very close to being something satisfying or perhaps even great.
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49 of 67 people (73%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 18, 2015
I wanted to like this game. I really did. It looked like a really quirky new rogue-lite with a concept that was different, and different is often good when it comes to video games.

This concept, however, just doesn't work. In most Rogue-like games, there's a sense of things... mostly being your fault. It's your fault you didn't prepare for the goblin. It's your fault you drank a potion you shouldn't. It's your fault that you missed your jump.

In Runestone Keeper, the game decides more often than not if you live. You can't see any of the traps unless you're lucky enough to get access to an item that tells you-- most often, you end up finding traps by tripping them. There's no real sense of improvement-- just a hope that you click the right tiles and kill just enough enemies before you meet an untimely demise.

It doesn't feel like a game that rewards skill, it feels like a game that just tosses a coin. RNG plays too much of a role in the game for it to be truly enjoyable.
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64 of 93 people (69%) found this review helpful
18 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
12.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 18, 2015
Sometimes the winning move is not to play. At least that's the feeling I get when I try to get through Runestone Keeper. As an adventurer, you must brave the depths in order to accomplish a thing. A lot of the story is in the background, and tends to crop up in random events. So you'll explore, find treasure, die, and repeat until you get bored.

I was planning on ignoring this game. Can you blame me? Just look at it. It's a rogue-like. When it comes to game-design, perma-death has been ran into the ground harder than zombies. Every freaking game wants to see me dead, my stuff taken away, my level reduced to 1, and my progress wiped away like it never ever happened. It's freakin' obnoxious, and yet I continue to play rogue-likes, because obviously I hate myself. As a bonus, this rogue-like resembles Minesweeper. Problem-solving! Strategizing! Clicking on stuff until you lose! It's all so terrible I want to vomit out of my nose.

As expected, it took me about a dozen hours of Runestone Keeper, just to figure out how much I hate it. There are some lovely aspects. The music is nice and atmospheric, the art is effective, and the simple click-to-explore interface removes a lot of the tedium. Also, unlike a number of rogue-likes, there's a shop where you can purchase permanent upgrades. The catch is that these upgrades increase your chances of something good happening. So after several play-throughs and investing hundreds of thousands of gold, your chances of survival might go up 2%. Thanks I guess.

Inside the dungeon, there are multiple floors. Exploration is as simple as clicking on a darkened tile. These tiles will reveal items, traps, mysterious shrines, monsters, shops, and other random events. Monsters are interesting in that they don't actively attack, unless you choose to fight them. The exceptions are the ranged monsters, who attack everytime you move. You could search the immediate area for items to help you deal with these evil denizens, but you run the risk of spawning creatures that boost stats, or cause any number of other problems. This aspect is pretty neat, as it forces you to weigh your options. Do you kill everything as they appear? Maybe you should explore and hope to stumble upon a healing item or a rare piece of armor.

I have nothing nice to say about traps in this game. Each floor is filled with them, and they will chew through your HP at a constant rate. There are items that reveal traps, but they're too infrequent. Most of the time, all you can do is click on the tiles, and pray you don't lose too much HP to spikes, falling rocks, bombs, poison, and so on. Sometimes I'll luck out and acquire a piece of armor that restores HP with every explored tile, but that's luck.

RNG is easily the most dominant force in this game, especially on the harder difficulties. While you have options such as spells, items, the gods you worship, and the stats you raise; they mean nothing when RNG decides to screw you. While exploring, I ran into an Overlord. The properties of an Overlord are random, but well let me just explain this particular jerk. This Overlord was a skeleton archer. His ability was that his attack level was equivalent to my HP. Once this guy appeared, I was ♥♥♥♥ out of luck. There are tools for dealing with this situation (like throwing knives, which insta-kill any ranged enemy), but I couldn't find anything of the sort. As I mentioned earlier, archers attack everytime you move, so they can't be avoided. Since the game is entirely turn-based, I had all the time in the world to think about how much I hate RNG. Along with a gigantic middle finger, I recieved an achievement entitled "WTF".

WTF indeed.

Even if Lady Luck blesses you a hundred times over, you'll still have to contend with the end-boss. I've managed to reach him once. Apparently there are multiple end-bosses, and this phantom is the easiest of them. He has a big fat wad of HP, and after I hit him a few times, he split into four (WTF), and quadrupled his number of attacks. Since I can't beat him in a straight fight, I considered that it'd be a better idea to find certain items that could even the odds. At this point the problem becomes: "I need these items, but I also need to survive long enough to reach the boss, and I also need a lot of HP, plus some great equipment if I really have to fight him." Basically, I need every star to align and Pegasus to arrive on a rainbow made out of gold.

Runestone Keeper does a lot of stuff right, and it can be very addictive. However, you have to account for the massive amount of RNG. Plus it's got the perma-death aspects and I...I just can't take it anymore!
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35 of 44 people (80%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
12.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 24, 2015
It's impossible to review Runestone Keeper without mentioning its clear inspiration, Dungelot. I realise a lot of people are detached from the mobile world so the comparison will be lost on most but there is much more than a passing resemblance to Red Winter's series of tile-tapping dungeon crawlers. It splits the review down the middle; does it offer enough to fans of Dungelot to leave behind familiar stomping grounds and does it offer an interesting experience to those that are blissfully unaware of the games it draws upon?

Luckily, both questions have the same response. Yes.

The gameplay in Blackfire Games' Runestone Keeper is something of an amalgamation of Minesweeper, Dungeons of Dredmor and Desktop Dungeons. However, that's not to say it's that much like those games. Not very helpful, I know, but with the formula being shared only by two niche mobile predecessors, it becomes difficult to make comparisons you can relate to. Reviewers like to connect the dots between games so readers can quickly judge their interest yet that becomes pretty tough when it's a largely unique experience.

Dungeon floors are set out as a grid that can be explored in any order from your starting point, uncovering one tile at a time. Each step reveals one of many different thing, generally falling under a classification of good or bad. Most discoveries play out as you might expect; equipment offers stat boosts, traps affect you negatively and enemies invite you to turn-based combat. You can avoid most fights but monsters block adjacent squares and the key to the next floor is often in their clutches so you sometimes have to enter the fray.

Thankfully the game deals mostly in absolutes, so the RNG factor is kept to a minimum, certainly in battles. There's a percentage chance to hit that can frustrate but it can be counteracted with the right items, otherwise it's easy to predict how much damage you will take and if you'll win a certain encounter. Attack value hits your shields first, which absorb a certain amount of damage and then it hits your HP; very standard fare but familiarity can sometimes be comforting. There's enough creativity displayed in other elements to forgive the otherwise traditional combat system.

As easy as the gameplay seems, your first playthroughs will end pretty quickly and there's a temptation to deride Runestone Keep as being unfair and luck-based. It's true that some items are better to have than others but succeeding relies on how well you can adapt to the hand you are dealt. Finding those techniques that make short work of most foes is key, such as using Roar to disarm the foes that redirect damage twofold so that large mobs are destroyed in seconds. The plentiful traps may seem overwhelming but you're given many ways to avoid them, besides leaving a floor half-explored is often the smarter move. You will suffer your way through learning the ropes, much like most roguelikes, but the capability to win isn't locked behind a grind for XP, unlike Dungelot.

There's a wealth of layers to the gameplay, from a tattoo and enchantment system to the worshiping of deities and elite arena rooms. They're largely left unexplained which is a real shame as a poor decision can end a decent run, let alone cost incredibly precious runes. It does mean you'll be discovering new elements for many hours but a light tutorial in certain areas would have been greatly appreciated. The hint scrolls dotted around the levels tend to be obsolete by the time you pick them up. That said, the ability to right click anything to get a short description on the tiles properties is very helpful and you'll make use of it many times even once you are comfortable with the mechanics.

Once you've died more than a dozen times, discovered a few gods and know your way around the enemies and artifacts you encounter early on, the game finds itself a nice groove. It gives with one hand and rubs your nose in your mistakes with the other just like any good roguelike but it's far from perfect. An iffy translation is apparent regularly and the game can hang for a few seconds at times but it's largely bug free. There are some questions regarding its longevity though it's hard to say; maybe after a couple dozen hours the intrigue will slip, although that's a pretty reasonable lifetime given the price. The difficulty could be a little lower for some people, but then it's part of what defines the genre. Roguelikes have teeth and Runestone Keep is no exception. Sure, they're a little wonky but the smile is charming and once the fangs are in, you'll lose many hours to an unusual and rewarding little bruiser.
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