Dungeon Hunter


Review by · November 25, 2009

This review is based on Dungeon Hunter version 1.4.0, as played on a 3rd generation iPod Touch.

Playing your first game on a new platform is always both fun and scary. You’re not entirely sure what to expect, although you hope for the best. Dungeon Hunter is my first game on the iPod Touch, and those feelings certainly apply to my experience in reviewing it. In the landscape of games from the App Store, this would be considered a “premium” title. As of this review, it costs $5, and although people expect a lot at that price, you’ll see that I think it’s worth the money. It’s important to know, however, that in scoring this game, I judged it based on what I’d expect from a $5 iPod game, which is much less than I’d expect from a $60 PS3 game.

I’m sure Dungeon Hunter is not unique, but it features a reversal of the standard RPG formula, where a nobody sets off on a quest to do something innocuous like “buy cat food,” and ends up saving the world. In this case, you play as a prince who sets off to save the kingdom, and does minor things along the way. “Our well water tastes funny. Will you check it out?” “I dropped my keys while I was running away from something scary. Can you find them for me?” The story isn’t very deep, but you can tell that some effort was put into its creation. There are several moments of humor as well, some of which come in the form of running jokes that could have grown old in a longer game. However, a single playthrough of Dungeon Hunter should take around fifteen hours if you complete all of the side quests, so even the running jokes shouldn’t leave you groaning before the end.

Dungeon Hunter is an action RPG in the hack & slash style I tend to enjoy so much. You can choose to play as a warrior, who focuses on brute force, a rogue, who focuses on quick strikes, or a mage, who casts spells. There are no ranged weapons, so if you like to keep your distance from the creatures you’re fighting, the mage is your only choice. Each class has 15 unique skills, and you can assign up to three of your active skills to be available for use at any given time. Many of the skills in each class are passive, so it’s not an unreasonable limitation.

The combat is fun in a button-mashy way (although you really only have to tap the attack button once to hit an enemy until they die), and as is crucial to this type of game, loot is plentiful. Item names are listed in colors that indicate how many magical properties they have: white items have no modifiers, green items have only one, etc. Magical modifiers might add elemental damage, raise your stats, or steal HP (always my favorite). Technically speaking, your inventory is limited, but it’s a big limit and rarely a problem. You can sell items in town or “transmute” them into gold for a slightly lower price at any time, and you can set the game to automatically transmute any items of a certain quality or lower. If you don’t care much about the money, doing so can really improve the game’s flow, as you’ll be able to adventure a long time between store runs.

I play a lot of PSP and DS games, so I know what those games should look like, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the graphical capabilities of my iPod Touch. Dungeon Hunter looks great, with graphics that fall somewhere between what the DS and the PSP can do. Levels are varied – among other things, you’ll see forests, dungeons, and ruined castles – and they are all done well. The paths are essentially linear, although most levels feature offshoots that lead you to extra enemies and treasure. Exploration is rewarded, but it also uncovers one of Dungeon Hunter’s weaknesses: the lack of a minimap. If you don’t follow some sort of standard method for finding your way, you will definitely get lost a time or three, especially near the end of the game. Unfortunately, the frustration of getting lost can be compounded by the way progress is saved, which is the game’s other main flaw. Your game automatically saves when you finish a level or when you quit playing, but when you quit playing, your position within the level is not saved.

Dungeon Hunter features sound effects and music, and they’re standard RPG fare. There’s nothing amazing here, so I was very happy to see that the developers remembered that I’m playing their game on my mp3 player when they designed Dungeon Hunter. You can listen to your own music while you play using music controls within the game, although your only choices are to play your predefined playlists or shuffle all songs. The only voice acting in the game is in the opening cutscene, and it’s standard slightly-over-the-top movie trailer narrator work.

I haven’t mentioned them yet, but the game’s controls are among the aspects that impressed me most about Dungeon Hunter. In the standard configuration, you have a virtual joystick in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, an attack button and a skill button in the lower right, and a potions button you can tap at the top, right next to your health meter. However, the developers took full advantage of the capabilities of the touch screen, so it’s likely that any player can find something to like. You can switch the controls left to right, change the layout of the buttons for your active skills, and even remove the joystick to simply tap the screen wherever you want to go. You can also use the accelerometer to flip the whole screen 180 degrees, allowing you to put your headphone jack on whichever side you prefer. My only complaint was that my thumb sometimes slipped off of the virtual joystick, which left me stuck standing in place a couple times when I really wanted to keep moving. This didn’t happen often, though, and I’m willing to chalk it up to user inexperience.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I’m very happy with what my $5 bought me. I happily played through Dungeon Hunter once, and will probably play through it at least once more. The developers cleverly included achievements, like those you see on the 360 and PS3, and they really do provide incentive to keep playing. A single, thorough playthrough will net you most of them, but you’ll have to make a more concentrated effort to get the others. Fortunately, you’ll have enough fun with the game that you won’t mind making that extra effort.

Overall Score 87
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John Tucker

John Tucker

John officially retired from RPGFan as Managing Editor in 2017, but he still popped in from time to time with new reviews until Retirement II in late 2021. He finds just about everything interesting and spends most of his free time these days reading fiction, listening to podcasts, and coming up with new things to 3D print.