Devious Dungeon review for PS Vita, PS4, Switch

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Noodlecake Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Even if Devious Dungeon were terrible — which, to be clear, it?s not — I think I?d be inclined to go easier on it by virtue of the fact that it reminds me of Rogue Legacy. Maybe it?s just me, but I?m going to give mental bonus points to any game that makes me think of one of my all-time favourites.

The similarities are many. Both are retro-tinged 2D Metroidvania platformers with randomly-generated levels, for starters. Both feature knights as main characters, fighting their way through various dungeons. Both place a heavy emphasis on collecting loot and leveling up your character?s abilities. When you get to the details (which I?ll do in a moment), there are important differences, but from a broad strokes, 30,000 foot perspective, it?s easy to see how and where Devious Dungeon borrowed from Rogue Legacy.

You can?t ignore those differences, though, because they?re the what separates an all-time classic (i.e. Rogue Legacy) from the merely above-average (that is, Devious Dungeon).

For starters, there?s the difficulty level. Rogue Legacy was punishingly hard in places; Devious Dungeon very rarely even challenges players all that much. I?m not the kind of person who fetishizes impossible challenges, but even I have to admit that I got bored with how easy it was to hack and slash your way through Devious Dungeon?s, er, dungeons.

Further, Rogue Legacy did player progression so much better. There, you were essentially playing through one family?s tragic family tree: each generation had its own strengths and weaknesses, but the game also made it possible to see how your characters grew and evolved with every new son and daughter. In Devious Dungeon, progress is much more linear: you kill enemies and bust open crates, you get coins, you use those coins to buy weapon, armour, and health upgrades. It?s not a bad way of doing things, obviously, but it?s pretty lacking in anything in the way of a personality.

And that, I think, is the biggest difference. Rogue Legacy was bursting with personality. It?s what kept me (and, undoubtedly, many other people) playing, even in the face of death after death. It was funny, and inventive, and made you want to stick around to see what came next. Devious Dungeon…is none of those things. It?s serviceable, and it?s fun enough, but I can?t imagine that, four years from now, I?m even going to be thinking about it, let alone comparing other games to it.

Obviously, it?s unfair to dock points from Devious Dungeon for not being Rogue Legacy. It?s its own game, and deserves to be judged on its own merits. Plus, like I said, it?s certainly enjoyable enough. But, at the same time, it?s impossible to look at what it does and not see how much better all of it was done elsewhere. It may not be fair, but it?s still entirely accurate.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Devious Dungeon PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B