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Every once in a while a game comes along that challenges all of your preconceived notions as to what constitutes a good game. Drawngeon, from Drageus Games, has arrived to bring this internal debate to the forefront. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, does it do enough to warrant a look? Let us dive deep into the latest throwback dungeon crawler and find out.
The story of Drawngeon is epic… in the sense that they epically failed to create a narrative for discussing. The game’s description tells of a mysterious tower that has appeared which only the brave must enter. After creating your character from 3 available classes and 2 genders players are thrust into the black and white world of Drawngeon. While they didn’t take the easy cliche route, the lack of any effort really hampers the ability of the game to draw in any new players looking for a dungeon crawling adventure. What can be cobbled together is that this idyllic town has been overrun by creatures ranging from the pesky spiders infesting the houses to venom spitting snakes clogging up the narrow corridors as you descend deeper and deeper into the madness.
Gameplay-wise, Drawngeon is a throwback in every sense of the word. Movement is limited to the 4 cardinal directions and mapped to the left stick while turning your character is handled by the L & R triggers. Cumbersome at first, this system does a remarkable job of capturing the early years of dungeon crawling. Fans of the old PC based D&D games or even the odd Demon Forge fan will feel right at home with this RPG while newcomers may be initially turned off by the controls. While moving along the grid, actions are all handled in real-time allowing the player some freedom in how to tackle certain encounters. While slaughtering the ravenous beasts your character earns XP which in turn is used on a physical skill tree in the hub area of town used to grow your character as you level up. There is an inherent satisfaction with physically seeing a tree take shape as you choose how it branches off. All loot gathered can be deposited with a mystical stone that will eat your items and return gold as appreciation. This on paper is a pretty cool system but I did find myself running out of inventory space as my gold intake increased. You can only hold 99 gold in one slot, which adds up during multi-hour dives into the dungeons. Additionally, you will be making lots of money fast once you realize that most of the loot is useless to you once you find some of the ‘Legendary’ gear.
Visually, Drawngeon is one tough nut crack. The hand-drawn sprites and environments do an amazing job of relaying a sense of childhood wonder. There were certainly times while thoroughly engaged where I felt as though I was watching my doodles come to life on graph paper during a pretty boring Algebra lesson. The 2D sprites rotate within the 3D environment meaning you will always be facing the item or enemy no matter how you move around the map. Digging through the in-game extras you are treated to the actual drawings used in the game on the actual paper. This inclusion really shows the heart involved in conceptualizing this fantasy realm. Unfortunately, the drab environments become hyper repetitive and leave most dungeons feeling like the previous one. Additionally, while kudos are to be given for everything being hand-drawn, the blurry textures do stand out.
Audio-wise, Drawngeon is a big miss. Much of the world is devoid of an actual soundscape. There is no sweeping orchestral music or even a chiptune to heard. Instead, we are given the bare minimum. Thankfully, the minimal sounds do convey a sense of impending dread but I cannot be sure this was by design. The audio ends up being a huge wasted opportunity. The world ends up feeling empty which unfortunately prevents the title from being able to drive its hooks deeper into you as a player.
Drawngeon is at its heart a representation of RPG’s from a bygone era. The slow plodding movement coupled with design choices may throw some people off. Drageus is to be commended on what they achieved here. The game with its faults is fun. The $5 asking price in the NA E-Shop is not a tall ask for a title that can be completed in a few hours of
exploring. While far from perfect Drawngeon is a title RPG fans should check out for some adventuring needs.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 24/12/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG, Action
Developer: DarkDes Labs
Publisher: Drageus Games
Download link: eShop