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Puz: Dungeon Scroll [by Robinson Technologies]

Game: Dungeon Scroll
Release: June 25, 2003
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Robinson Technologies
System Requirements: DirectX 7.0
Price: $7.99


One of the more interesting things that Independent games present that mainstream gaming does not have as much of is genre cross-over games.  For example, action / puzzle, or FPS / RTS.  Dungeon Scroll is one of the more fun cross-over games that I've played in recent memory.  The combination here is one that initially doesn't make any sense.  Fantasy RPG / Puzzle.  When I first looked at Dungeon Scroll, I didn't start clamoring "this is going to be the best puzzle game of the year!"  Yet it did win the Game Tunnel 2003 Puzzle game of the year award.  So what is it that makes this game work?  Honestly I don't know, but I do know that I hands down played this puzzle game more than any other puzzle game I played this year.  There may be multiple reasons for this, but I think in the end, the answer is just that Dungeon Scroll is a lot more fun to play than any of the other Puzzle Games I played this year.

In the game, you are given letters and you need to spell words with them. So you could call the basis somewhat scrabble like. However, there is something else going on. The game throws monsters at you!

Each word you enter in is counted as a spell. When you enter the spell, it causes damage to the monster that is fighting you. Words that are longer do more damage than words that are shorter. For example, a 3 letter word does 3 points of damage to the Spider, but a 4 letter word does 6 points of damage.

After killing the monster, you collect the treasure that the monster had. This treasure usually consists of bonus letters. The bonus letters will either increase the power of your attack by doubling the hp it takes off or adding a +10 damage bonus, or increase the number of letters that you have available to you. There are two more treasure tiles that you will pick up, one is a heal potion, and the other is an oracle. The oracle is especially helpful as it will create the longest word possible out of your available letters.

Moving through the game you descend through various dungeons. The game will present more difficult creatures to kill as you descend from level to level. Within each level you have to kill a certain number of creatures before you can move on. As well, periodically a dragon will appear. These dragons are tough as nails and will take everything you have, including your oracle and bonus attack letters to destroy.

I might also add that this is the perfect game for playing with your significant other.  Playing together is sort of cheating because you get to use two brains instead of one.  However, that shouldn't stop you from doing so.  Having one person type the words out using the keyboard while both of you come up with new words to cast is a blast.  If you have a wife or girlfriend that isn't a fan of gaming or you playing games this is the perfect game to convert them into gaming.  Dungeon Scroll has a very cool RPG / Dungeon theme that will keep even the anti-puzzle involved, in addition to a fun spell-casting system that is all about spelling words correctly.


Graphics: 8
The graphics do a good job of conferring the feeling of a dungeon.  The graphics in the newer version 1.1 are a little bit better than the old ones in a few areas, including the title screen.  The different animals that you fight are all well-drawn though I would have liked to have had a few more to look at.  The letter blocks will remind you very much of scrabble pieces.  They different power-ups are easy to tell apart, which is an absolute necessity in a game where speed is of the essence.

Sound: 7
There honestly isn't a whole lot of sound in the game.  The only time you have background music is when you are fighting a Dragon (which only makes those encounters more intense!)  The sound effects are fine for what they do.  I really liked the oracle sound, and the intro music to the game is also nice.  In this case, the scoring of a 7 in the category has to do with the quantity of the sound than the quality of the sound that is in the game.

Game Play: 10
The game is easy to play and pick up.  It always amazes me that the game is able to figure out how to use all of your letters in a word when you have an oracle.  The interface for the game is a very simple mouse click set-up that makes it so that even kids can jump on and play the game.  On the easy level they may not even do too bad using 3 and 4 letter words. 

Options: 9
Some of the best options in the game I hadn't even learned until I checked out the read me.  Initially when playing I was using the mouse to click on letters that I wanted to use.  While the mouse is fine, most of us can type much faster than we are able to click.  You can also use shift when typing any letter to use any special attack / bonus letters that you have.  Using the keyboard makes things much quicker when you are trying to get words in.  The newest version has also added a sum-up at the end of your turn that is an appreciate feature.  It lets you see the quantity of words with different letter counts that you entered, in addition to what your strongest word was, and what treasures you collected.

Concept: 10
Depending on how you look at it, Dungeon Scroll either takes adventuring/RPG games or Puzzle games where they haven't been before.  The concept is as creative as they come, and it is pulled of extremely well.

Fun: 10
Dungeon Scroll is overwhelmingly fun.  From the moment you turn it on, it is a joy to play.  The game also includes many little extras that make it entertaining over long periods of time.  For example, at the end of each level when you beat the last character you always find something.  The game I think has a random word generator to tell you what you found, but the items are a hilarious parody of the types of items that you get in a real RPG game (such as a "Plump Talking Princess").  There are also some words in the game, such as "spider", "duck" and "akiko" that will give you some neat on screen effects!  Dungeon Scroll is a blast to play and will keep you coming back.

Overall: 9
I think I've probably said this many times by now, but Dungeon Scroll is a game well worth your time and money.  At just $7.99 it becomes really difficult to determine why you wouldn't pick up a copy of this game.  Honestly, they could charge $19.99 and it would still be a great deal for your entertainment dollar.  If you are looking for a game that will be fun to play, especially with close friends, give Dungeon Scroll a look, I'm sure you'll be glad you did.Added: January 1st 2004
Reviewer: Russell Carroll
Score:
Related Link: Robinson Technologies
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