Drawngeon: Dungeons of Ink and Paper
Developed By : DarkDes Labs
Published By : Drageus Games
Category : RPG
Release Date : Dec 24, 2019
It’s hard to deny that the Switch eShop is flooded with games each month, and many of them aren’t exactly amazing. Quick ports of failed Steam releases, or unknown games that drop their price by 90% to reel in buyers. Drawngeon is certainly another small release for the storefront, though it’s clear that more effort has been put into this game than the usual cheap eShop game. It’s a shame though that even a unique papercraft aesthetic is not enough to hide just how bare-bones this game is.
Little time is given to the game’s story, dropping you into the world with little fanfare after creating your character. Drawngeon’s store description mentions a mysterious tower that suddenly appeared in the world of Inkland, though ingame there isn’t anything driving along your adventure. The few characters that do appear in the main hub area don’t have much to say either. The focus is clearly on dungeon crawling and gathering loot, as that’s what you’ll be doing nearly all the time.
Drawngeon is a real-time dungeon crawler, featuring the classic style of grid-based movement. Movement is simple, with strafing mapper to the L and R buttons, and your attacking options are limited compared to other games of this type. Between the three classes – warrior, magician and rogue – there are a couple of skills to unlock, but most of the time you’ll just be doing basic attacks with your weapon. Not only is this incredibly simple, it also ends up being incredibly boring after a few minutes.
Combat isn’t the only area that is missing variety and interesting features. There’s a severe lack of things to see or do while dungeon crawling, as most of what you encounter in the first hour is what you’ll see for the rest of the game. Bats, spiders, it’s all standard stuff, and you’ll use the same strategy to fight each of them. Even when you do run into something new, aside from the occasional twist like a projectile move there’s little to differentiate it from other monsters aside from higher stats.
All this ties into the game’s main problem: It’s only a couple of hours long. This is a game that is intended to be played multiple times with each class, which is evidenced by the inclusion of randomised dungeons. However, there isn’t even enough here to keep the enjoyable for half of its already short runtime. There’s very little reason to play through Drawngeon more than once, unlike other dungeon crawlers and roguelikes that have a lot more content and randomisation to make each run feel unique.
Even when an attempt is made to add in a unique mechanic, it only ends up making the game less balanced as a result. One of the skills you can acquire from the very limited skill tree is the ability to eat items. This, tied with both the limited inventory space and abundance of loot, means that you’ll be constantly eating items. Most items will restore health when eaten, meaning that healing is never an issue. Because of this, what little challenge would have been added by a lack of healing items is lost.
Its one saving grace is the aforementioned art style, that mimics doodles drawn in the corner of a notepad. Everything from the environment to the UI has a papercraft theme that certainly looks charming. It does suffer a little by being mostly black and white, but at least the style is consistent. Unfortunately, the theme is let down by the cramped nature of the interface. Having your character view only take up a small section of the screen does mimic the look of old-school dungeon crawlers, but it also means that your vision is incredibly limited. Furthermore, while the map can be enlarged with a button press, by default it’s hard to make out anything it shows.
Drawngeon is certainly better than the average cheap indie game that makes its way onto the eShop, though in the end that’s not really saying much. It does the bare minimum in all aspects bar its visuals, and has a hard time keeping your interest even for one short playthrough. The Switch isn’t exactly flooded with dungeon crawlers, so another quality title would have been welcome. This game is not what we were looking for though, and even beginners would be better off looking elsewhere.
*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*