Reviews// Dungeon Runners (PC Download)

Not having a grand storyline works in its flavour

Posted 26 Jun 2007 17:30 by
From NCSoft, the developer of Lineage and City of Heroes, comes Dungeon Runners, a free massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game that proves you don’t have to invest a small fortune or sacrifice relationships with family and friends to enjoy MMO gaming.

Free to download and free to play, DR is somewhat of an experiment by NCsoft. An unashamed merger of World of Warcraft and Diablo, it’s a light-hearted, hack and slash romp that has taken all the traditional MMO elements and stripped them right back to create a solid, if shallow, online action RPG.

The game sports three character classes, namely the warrior, warlock, and ranger, however, the difference between them is negligible as each has access to the same set weapons, armour, items and skills.

The only real difference in fact, is what a character starts out with and how you allocate stats. While some will moan about the lack of customisation, it really works for DR as you can give your character whatever skills or equipment you like without repercussions, and if you get sick of playing one class you can re-spec your character on the spot, redistributing all your hard-earned stat points as desired.

This makes DR extremely easy to get into, and will have you smiting critters within minutes of downloading. Quests can be picked up during a quick chat with non-playing characters (NPCs), and usually involve killing or collecting a certain number of items, finding a particular person/item, exploring a region and, of course, nailing a boss-type creature.

Character movement is handled by either the [W],[A],[S],[D] keys or Diablo point-and-click style. You attack by holding mouse button one or two, with the game targeting the creature selected by the cursor. Healing and mana regeneration are handled by the space bar and [M] button, making combat fast, furious and dead simple.

AI is fairly primitive, with enemies attacking in small waves spread out evenly throughout levels. There’s no stealth or strategy here, no picking off weaklings away from the pack. Attack one and the group springs into action, so it’s often best to just dive in and Hulk smash.

The difficulty has been well crafted overall, with it scaling enough to keep the challenge alive while not being detrimental to single players. Rapid regeneration keeps the action flowing and the lack of a real death penalty further encourages the Charge!-style of play. Teaming up with others sees the difficulty ratchet up rapidly, so if you start out as a group it’s best to stick together than venture off alone.

As this is a quick-thrill type of game, you can forget an epic, intertwining Baldur’s Gate-style story arc. Sure the game has a loose kind of narrative to it, but not having a grand storyline works in its flavour, as anything too in dept would be hard to follow in short bursts. Instead you can have a chuckle at the alchemist’s flowery speech charging you with a quest to find “Puker juice” or collect buckets of paint from monsters to “paint the dungeon gray (sic)”.

If you didn’t figure it out, talking to the NPCs, as soon as you pick up that cardboard sword, giant pizza cutter or wooden shotgun it should be apparent that humour is a central part of the game. Just to be sure the point isn’t missed too, the Scots have again been deployed for comic effect, with Sean Connery (“I have a tanker and license to shpill”) to Billy Connelly (“Och, I can put ma kids through skee-wull") parodies making the strongest showing to date outside of Worms.
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