Retrospective Game Review: Bit Dungeon Plus (PS4, PS5, XBox, Switch, PS Vita)

When people talk about indie games, the image that immediately springs to mind for many is that of a retro-inspired or retro-themed game with quick pick-up-and-play game mechanics, often rogue-like, pixel graphics and chipsound music and sound effects. That’s not always the case but it’s a sterotypical image that the indie development scene has had to contend with. So it came as no surprise when I received a review copy of Bit Dungeon Plus from developers Dolores Entertainment and it turned out to be a retro-styled rogue-like dungeon crawler…

Bit Dungeon Plus – First Impressions

Okay, I’m being unfair here but in all honesty that’s unfortunately the first impression that this gives to any gamer both from screenshots and when I was on the PlayStation Store browsing before I received it. And sadly this didn’t help to change the minds of would-be buyers of the game. For retro gamers like myself it’s quite the opposite as these are the games I’m drawn to more alongside JRPGs but for those looking for their next AAA fix or something that resembles a bigger budget title Bit Dungeon Plus already faced an uphill struggle.

The Plot

The story is a clichéd affair – kidnapped by demons along with your friend and thrown into a dungeon and left unconscious (a typical day for many of us weary adventurers). You awake to find yourself alone (okay, your friend has disappeared at least) and with nothing but a sword and a horde of creatures around you. You have to fight your way out, escaping from room to room, until you can beat the end of level boss to find your friend and escape.

You’re helped along the way by weapons and accessories you find in crates and other containers you find littered around the dungeon (pretty careless if you ask me, leaving weapons near prisoners who might escape), and coins and health potions dropped by creatures you kill. Coins can be used in the shop found on each level to buy health, and additional weapons and armour… although the shopkeeper seems to be lost and wandered into the wrong game as he looks somewhat like Yoda.

Gameplay

Back to the game itself and it’s typical arcade hack and slash affair with the action buttons used to attack, defend, magic and to bring up the on-screen map / your character stats so you can get in instant view of what affect your current weapons and accessories have on your character. At different points during the level, sub-bosses are encountered and on defeating them you can choose between three stats bonuses to increase your health, attack or critical hit bonuses. Once you clear a room, a key appears allowing you to leave and move onto the next.

All of the console versions allow for couch co-op gameplay for up to four players while the PS Vita version is limited to single player only. Sadly, while this version is compatible with the microconsole, it doesn’t offer multiplayer support using the PlayStation TV as many games do which is a wasted opportunity. There’s also no support for multiplayer via wi-fi either.

Free Roaming Exploration

Bit Dungeon allows for relatively free movement around the dungeon so you can return to rooms as often as you like. Instead of respawning the same random creatures to attack, instead you face packs of dog-like monsters and while these won’t provide you with the opportunity to pick up new weapons and accessories, they are a great benefit for health boosts and coin pickups so if you find yourself in a sticky situation and running low on health, a bit of grinding back through past rooms is a welcome diversion.

Despite its simplicity, I found Bit Dungeon Plus to be astonishingly addictive. The rogue-like nature of the game meant that no two games ever played the same. The layout of the mazes, creature encounters, weapon pickups and even the bosses were completely randomised keeping each game completely fresh. The ability to save progress as well keeps you coming back for more if you want a longer game although it’s not particularly clear from the menus how to do it (it automatically saves when you exit the game from the pause menu).

Keeping It Retro

Visually it’s a typical retro affair with bold, colourful pixelised sprites and background graphics. Everything is clear and easily identifiable with plenty of diversity between levels and creatures to prevent the game looking bland as you move through the levels. Sound is suitably chirpy with plenty of chip tunes and sound effects, with the style somewhere between the 8-bit and 16-bit era in terms of the sounds used giving the game an unusual aesthetic feel although one that works extremely well.

Overall

Bit Dungeon Plus is a fantastic dungeon crawler and one of the best rogue-like games I’ve played for a long time, regardless of the platform. While I did enjoy it more on the handheld plaforms – which it did feel better suited for – it’s great fun no matter what. And as with so many games released around the same time, the PlayStation versions were released as Cross Buy giving you access to the PS4 and PS Vita for a single purchase price giving you even greater value for money. Definitely one worth tracking down.

About Simon Plumbe 213 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*