Dungeon Stars has you delving deep into 2D side-scrolling dungeons, battling hordes of enemies in order to rescue Heroes and pets to fight alongside you. It’s a simple little game, but one packed with just enough charm to have a flavour of its own. But does that flavour leave a bitter aftertaste?
Dungeon Stars is a side-scrolling autorun action game that simultaneously released on mobile, and it shows. The gameplay is very simplistic, automatically running from left to right, attacking enemies and collecting loot until you reach the end. The challenge comes in timing your slam attacks and shielding from enemy attacks. Each hero has three special abilities that you can activate with the directional buttons which can tip the scale of the battle in your favour. There are fifteen total Heroes to unlock, each with their own special abilities. Lastly, upon promoting a hero to two stars, you can equip a Pet which makes up the third special ability, allowing you to customise your approach. Each type of enemy has their own unique attack pattern and you can come across boss battles which can take a few minutes to get through. There is also a rock-paper-scissors approach in elemental types with fire effective against poison, poison effective against ice and ice effective against fire. I think with the simplistic premise that Dungeon Stars has, Furnace Games certainly attempted to keep the gameplay engaging. However, the basic groundwork hinders it from achieving anything past a mediocre time killer when waiting for the bus.
As Dungeon Stars is also a mobile game, the Switch version supports touch screen controls in handheld mode. However, I was surprised at how unresponsive these touch controls were, with sometimes having to touch the screen multiple times in order to click a button. The touch controls when playing the core game is also unresponsive, so I would highly recommend just playing it with button controls.
At the time of playing Dungeon Stars only a few days after its initial release, there appeared to be a few kinks that needed to be ironed out. For one, frequent frame rate dips can often cost you an attack or two, especially when there is a lot happening on the screen at once, which is crucial in a game that is all about timing your attacks and defence.
I was initially hesitant about including a Level Design in this review as there isn’t much design to begin with. Much of it is procedurally generated and every level merely consists of running from left to right. There are easy, medium and hard levels, but the challenge comes in the enemy variety and attack patterns. Running in a straight line gets old real quick.
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The story in Dungeon Stars is actually kind of cute. Stars no longer grace the night sky thanks to the evil workings of the Conqueror Worm. Your heroes must enter the Star Portals in attempts to rescue these stars and return them to their rightful place.
As you complete levels, the sky in the hub world becomes increasingly populated with the stars that have been rescued, creating a sentimental touch to your journey. Having said all that, the game doesn’t do enough to emphasize your purpose. There are occasional quips from NPCs, but all-in-all the plot certainly doesn’t play a commanding role.
Graphics / Art Direction
Dungeon Stars is bursting with colour, really adding a childlike wonder to the game. With character types being colour-coordinated, this certainly helps to plan out your approach before taking on waves of enemies.
The character designs, whilst simple, are adorable in their chibi-likeness. Each hero has their own unique character design, making it easy to distinguish one from another.
Music / Sound Design
Whilst clearly not its main focus, the soundtrack is very repetitive and it tends to lack character. Sound effects are simple and enemy cries are shrill and cringy. You’ll grow very tired of the mages’ cries when they fire spells at you, so much so that I can still hear them in my sleep. At times, it seems as though the mastering is of low quality, which is disappointing to see in a final product.
Final Score: 65%
We may have come across fairly negative in the bulk of this review but when it comes down to it, Dungeon Stars is a nice little time killer. It’s certainly not a game for long play sessions, and it certainly has a lot to be desired, but overall it’s a neat and quirky little game that is certainly a lot of fun.
What do you think? Will you be picking up Dungeon Stars? Let us know in the Comments section below.