Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Quick Take: Dungeon Fray

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 10, 2014

DungeonFray1I am as much of a sucker for the big-name RPGs as anybody else. Yes, marketing works on me, too, go figure. But I still love to check out the unsung, relatively unknown little indie games. Sometimes they do a better job of scratching the itch. Sometimes not.

Dungeon Fray is one that I hadn’t heard of until it was bundled with Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon a few months ago. It’s a very quick-playing roguelike in the same vein as Desktop Dungeons. Now, I haven’t played Desktop Dungeons in a long time (since it was still in free, pre-beta stages), so I’m not sure how much the two have diverged – but core gameplay is pretty similar between the two.

In a nutshell, you have a dungeon that starts out mostly hidden with black squares that gradually gets revealed as you move.  The dungeon is filled with monsters, treasures, and “orbs.” There are also locked treasure chests and blue orbs that have a highly rendom effect – including hurting your character half the time.  Monsters of different kinds of have special abilities and resistances, and are clearly labeled with their level – which you compare against your own character’s level for an idea of their difficulty (and is how much experience points you’ll get for slaying them). Most of the time, you’ll be facing monsters higher level than yourself.

The monsters are stationary, until you attack them. Then they’ll follow you. By bumping into the monster, you automatically make a normal attack. You can also use any of nine spells to assist you, or drink potions to heal damage or remove debilitating states. Hitting and damaging a monster is somewhat random, especially if the enemy is much higher level than yourself, so there are no guarantees when you engage an enemy. Having some potions and spells in your inventory for a back-up plan against a more powerful enemy is key.

DungeonFray2Unlike Desktop Dungeons – but more like most roguelikes – you do not automatically heal as you move around or reveal new parts of the dungeon. You heal when you level up, when you touch a green orb, or drink a healing potion. There is also a wizard in each level who can grant you a favor – one of which is regeneration for the first three rounds of your next combat. Your character can be of one of three classes in the game – Fighter, Mage, and Rogue. All have different advantages and disadvantages, and each has three spells (of nine, total) which will work better for them than for the other classes.

Besides gaining levels, you can also improve your character through activating blue orbs (although that’s random and sometimes debilitating), or by purchasing upgrades with your gold. I really like this aspect of the game – it certainly makes loot-gathering a critical element of the game. Gold can be used to buy potions, spell uses, and upgrades to your character’s attack, defense, and hit points. Items have a fixed cost, but upgrades cost progressively more with each improvement.

Once you defeat all the monsters on a level, you can descend to the next level, and keep on going. I understand there’s an end to the levels where you can “win” (level 8?), but I’ve not gotten past level 4. Death is permanent, however you can earn achievements and perks with your characters which can then give an advantage to future characters.

And that’s pretty much the game. It’s not a phenomenal roleplaying experience or a super-deep roguelike or anything like that. It’s a straight up mechanical dungeon crawl where you manage risk, reward, and resources. Sometimes, that’s all I need for a “quick fix.” If you only have ten minutes to play, it might be just what you need. And if you manage to survive the dungeon that long, you can always quit and save.


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