Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I DONT KNOW! Review
Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I DONT KNOW! is quite the apropos title because I in fact, do not know what WayForwad games were thinking when creating this game. Now you may be saying, “George, Adventure Time is a childrens television show and thus all media related to it must be graded on a different scale.” I would respond firstly by asking why you are outside my window at 3am raving like a lunatic about Adventure Time and secondly that as a whole, Adventure Time is a mix of ideas and issues revolving around characters that, depending on your age, can have vastly different and complex themes. I would also add that I’ve called the authorities to have you returned to whence thou came.
What we end up with is a neutered mix of classic roguelike elements modeled in the style of Diablo II. The real problem is that after playing Adventure Time EDBIDK you really just want to install and play something better, like Diablo II for instance. From a gameplay perspective everything works fine, in fact thats the most puzzling thing about the game. You move freely and easily throughout the 100 levels of the dungeon beneath the castle, you fight varied monsters throughout and can partake in the adventure with four friends. But for being based on the Adventure Time universe everything just feels so utterly bland and devoid of life.
The game is structured so that you, solo or with friends, make your way down into the dungeon to find out why all the prisoners of the kingdom are escaping. Every five levels you are given the opportunity to return back to the hub world and use whatever gold you collected to upgrade your strength, life, focus and a few other basic stats. Nothing fancy and everything works like it should, but again, it’s just so blasé in terms of depth. A mechanic to note is that should you choose to re-enter the dungeon and have yet to spend all of the allotted gold you have thus far collected, the princess will strip you of half of it as a “candy tax”. The only thing that this accomplishes, besides infuriating the player, is to pad the games length by having you replay earlier levels to collect more gold.
After every ten levels you meet a boss and must dispatch them to rescue new party members or to just advance the story, which is already hanging on a razors edge of mediocrity. You would think that using a roguelike as a base, the game would present you with lots of quests and lots of varied loot. See, you would be forgiven for thinking that as I did, but you would again be mistaken. Pulling up the menu during play shows you exactly how many characters there are to find, how many items to collect, and how many quests the game has for you. It takes away any sense of exploration or excitement when you know before playing, that everything the game has in store is already laid out for you in a nice and neat care package, full of hand holding. More and more Adventure Time EDBIDK feels like a mobile game that was just forced into the guise of a full retail release.
The game has this retro 16-bit inspired veneer that at first glance gets you excited to play, but ends up coming off as one of the dozens of shoddy, lackluster licensed games that once graced the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. This is strange because WayForward Games have done some incredible work in the past, most recently with Ducktales Remastered, so they are more than capable of creating quality games. Usually when I see the whole “retro” thing being incorporated into a game I expect to be challenged and to have a game with some serious meat to it. Neither of those two points happen with this game. The graphics are, for their style, respectable, but by no means revolutionary and could be pulled off on any multitude of mobile devices with ease.
The voice cast of the Adventure Time television show is top notch and one of the things that really helps define the show, and to the games credit, all of the cast is here lending their voices with loads of dialogue and snarky one liners. Every cutscene is fully voiced and are really the only reason to keep you playing. These bits help to capture the charm of the show, unfortunately reaching those points means slogging through endless boring dungeon segments.
For what it sets out to clone, Adventure Time EDBIDK is a short game. Perhaps WayForward just didn’t have enough time and/or budget to create the game that they envisioned (I’m starting to think the latter was the case) because the world is just so barren. During your first playthrough, odds are that you will find most everything the game has to offer before going into the final boss encounter. If you have little kids then they might get some enjoyment from the constant, mindless repetition (Thats probably not giving enough credit to children though) but if you are expecting to play alongside them, then you will quickly want the game to come to a swift end. I would have cut the game more slack than I already have if it were a downloadable title, but that isn’t the case here. It has a full disc release on all the major platforms and while It’s still priced at a budget title price point, that hardly matters when both the PSN and XBLA have other much stronger titles, and don’t even get me started on Steam and the multitude of games that outshine this one and for much less.
Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I DONT KNOW! misses all the marks of what makes a roguelike a roguelike. Bland set pieces and lackluster gameplay coalesce to make this a game that even the most diehard fans of the series should take a pass on.