Overview – developed by Roenko Games and published by Eastasiasoft, Dungeon Escape is a punishing pixel platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy, with brutal platforming challenges that will push your skills to the limit. This title is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam service, links to each version of the game will be available at the bottom of this review if you want to check it out for yourself.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Eastasiasoft for providing the copy of Dungeon Escape that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the review, since there is no real story for this release I will be going straight into the gameplay section.
Gameplay – Dungeon Escape is a single screen pixel platformer with 50 brutally difficult stages for the player to take on, getting increasingly complex as the game progresses. The core objective of each stage is to collect the key and reach the door, the secondary objective is to set a high score by collecting coins and defeating enemies.
The stages themselves contain devious traps and obstacles for the player to overcome, including spikes, flying saw blades and roaming enemies. If the player makes contact with any of these hazards, they will be killed and returned to the start of the stage with all collected items reset. This one hit insta-death mechanic makes the stages harder, which can add a lot of frustration to death.
The overall platforming action is pretty solid for the most part, with simple but slighty twitchy controls consisting of just horizontal walking and a jump/double jump. Objects can be moved and enemies can be killed by jumping on them, which opens up the possibility for self-imposed challenges like killing all enemies or being a pacifist and not harming any.
However, there are flaws to the experience in Dungeon Escape. First the stages can be difficult for just the sake of it, with a lot of trial and error alongside traps that can kill you instantly the moment the level loads, giving zero chance for the player to react. Second is what feels like overly sensitive collision detection, with death occurring on occasion from just grazing the outside edge of enemies or traps.
All of the elements tie combine together to create a challenging, yet frustrating title in the pixel platformer genre. The upside to the difficult nature of the game is the infinite retries, with no possible way to game over when playing Dungeon Escape.
With the gamplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – this title uses a limited control scheme, with only movement controlled by the left side of the controller and the B button used for jumping. This works very well for the game, but the overall controls do feel twitchy moving too far when trying to use precision. The game feels comfortable when played in docked/handheld modes, with either the Joy-Cons or pro controller.
Presentation – visually this is a pleasing title with a minimalistic 8-bit style, small sprites and simplified use of color. The look is reminiscent of older platformer titles, while still having a modern look to it. The sound design is also pleasant, with the game utilizing a chiptune soundtrack comprised of several tracks that will play in sequence during playtime.
Final thoughts – as mentioned before in the coverage of Sunblaze which can be read (HERE), I am not the biggest fan of precision platformers. However, I did have fun playing Dungeon Escape, although the amount of frustration from repeated deaths did outweigh the enjoyment sadly. As a budget title, I can recommend this release to those who enjoy tough as nails platforming action, but I don’t think those who casually play the genre will get much out of it due to the punishing difficulty.
In the end, I give Dungeon Escape a final score of 3.5/5. This is a brutally tough platformer that may take a lot of trial and error to learn the routes that work, the title is designed well with the challenges in mind, however I feel that the high level of difficulty will be off putting for many. If this title interests you, links to each version of the game will be available below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Xbox One version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)