Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 23, 2013
It’s a start:
I think you need more to it than this. And “theme” – I dunno. Some of my favorite games of previous eras played fast and loose with this, and that was part of the fun. It seems modern players get much more hung up and demand a purity test for fantasy RPGs, but back in the day – no biggie. We were used to dragons laying on persian rugs and stuff back then, anyway.
One element that I tend to recall when remembering my favorite dungeon crawlers of yore is a feeling of oppressiveness, and a lack of safety. You could, at times, retreat to a safe place briefly – but you’d spend a lot of time down in a dark, dangerous place, ‘cuz that was where the action was. You’d spend a lot of the time in the dark. And by “the dark,” I don’t mean dim lighting that only allowed a few tiles’ worth of vision (though there was that, too).
I remember some dungeon levels becoming as familiar to me as the hallways of my school. My favorite bolt-holes. The exact sequence of steps to get back to a safe spot or a healing fountain. The thing about most dungeon crawlers was that I LIVED in those dungeons. And I think of depth – layers and layers of dungeon hallways built on top of each other.
And I think of pacing – I think slow, methodical pace. Thus the “crawl.” Diablo and its family tree are not really dungeon crawlers. Those are about hacking and slashing boldly forward, not careful and meticulous progress through an extremely hostile environment that doesn’t leave much margin for error. In a true dungeon crawler, the one-two combo of puzzle-style challenges and dangerous combat makes it quite easy to end up in one of those, “Oh, CRAP!” situations with little chance for escape, let alone victory.
Filed Under: Design, Retro - Comments: 4 Comments to Read