Dungeon Stars is an adorable, colorful mashup of side-scrolling-button-smasher and endless runner, with just enough RPG and strategy elements to make this casual PC game remarkably capable of chewing up far more time than you’d expect.
Dungeon Stars is currently in development at Furnace & Riposte games, and now available in Steam Early Access.
Dungeon Stars may even be the first Stam Early Access game that I have ever “finished”. And I haven’t even gotten to see half of it, or whatever assuredly cheeky story is cooked up to motivate your perpetual right-ward, monster-bashing and looting adventure.
Welcome to your very cute doom
Dungeon Stars generates dungeons stocked with a random number of floors, creatures, and loot. Your character—a wizard, warrior, or rogue—perpetually storms across the screen left to right while monsters spawn and storm back at you. Mow them down and take their stuff to clear the path to the end of the floor.
Then do it again.
Did I mention this game is adorable? It’s adorably cartoonish and cheery, forged from brilliant colors and art reminiscent of various web comics and Pokemon.
Your enemies—mostly a variety of goblins and ogres—only look about as evil as a Pokemon with mean-slanted eyebrows. And you don’t “kill” anything so much as “bonk” it into submission, at which points it yelps like a thwarted chipmunk and falls off the screen. Suffice to say it’s a pretty kid-friendly game.
Because your character marches relentlessly onward, you never need to control movement, only the strategic use of attacks, blocks, power attacks, and up to three special abilities. The default controls are all keyboard-based, but you can customize them and opt for a mouse or a combination of mouse-keyboard.
The primary (default) controls are the left arrow (attack), down arrow (block), and right arrow (power attack) arrow keys. The Q and A keys allow you to swap in another member of your party, while the Z, X, and C keys activate special abilities.
It’s more than button mashing. Really.
While Dungeon Stars is built around rapid combat and short dungeon raids, there’s just enough strategy to elevate it beyond mere key-smashing.
First, there’s a Rock-Paper-Scissors element to the game, which is represented by the primary element and color of the characters and the monsters: Earth (green) – Fire (red) – Water (blue).
Fire is strongest against Earth, Earth is strongest against Water, and Water is strongest against Fire. Each floor of a dungeon usually has a dominant element (Blue Goblins, for example), but monsters of other elements will be intermixed with them so you may need or want to swap out characters to improve your combat effectiveness. There is also cooldown between character swaps, so you need to swap wisely.
Furthermore, healing and revive potions are relatively expensive commodities and can only be used in between floors fo the dungeon, hence longer dungeons can get quite challenging as the enemies and bosses ramp up, even once you manage to field a full complement of 3 characters.
Of course, there’s loot
Dungeon Raids would be far less fun if you couldn’t justify your rage-bonking with robbery. Every dungeon raid yields experience points, gold, and loot left behind by your vanquished foes. Magic items bolster your character’s abilities and often have synergies that add another layer to the metagame.
A merchant is also available for selling and buying items in between raids.
Dungeon Stars is certainly a casual affair. The longest dungeons can generally be completed in under 10-15 minutes. Most can be replayed for more loot and experience, and there are many ‘challenge’ levels with specific rules, such as “green heroes only” or “warriors only”, for example. Special dungeons can also be unlocked.
Overall, Dungeon Stars is a very promising Early Access game, and I was genuinely surprised how something designed to consume short snippets of time wound up consuming so many of those snippets for me.
You can check out Dungeon Stars at the Dungeon Stars Steam Early Access Page.