“Roguelike”; is a word used to describe a particular game genre. While it’s commonly attributed to a decades-old title (Rogue, 1980), it’s also used to describe any game comprised of random maps with “perma-death” for the unwary explorer. Today’s Review is for a modern roguelike adventure called Beyond Dimensions, developed by Cool Frogs Studio and published by Black Shell Media. The Beyond Dimensions tutorial is brief, but it adequately explains how this classic dungeon run works. You can use the mouse to aim your explorer’s facing direction, then use directional keys to walk forward (toward the mouse cursor) or backward (away from the cursor). Your character is also equipped with three random spells (assigned to the 3 main mouse buttons, respectively).
What’s nice is that there’s a library of spells, but you never know which three you’re going to get on the current run. If your explorer dies, you start from scratch…with a different spell loadout…so study your surroundings and use the right spells at the right time. Dislike the spells you got this round? Oh well! It pays to get good with all of them. As you begin a new dungeon crawl, you’ll come across furniture, containers, magical items and of course monsters. Smash everything in sight and defeat monsters to reveal items that will help you avoid death for a while:
Red Crystals: These are your basic restorers of health. Your life meter is limited and will deplete after taking damage, so snarf up all the healing you can.
Pink Crystals: These restore your mana pool, rather than health. They can also be used as currency to purchase power-ups found at special altars throughout the maps.
Power-Ups: These act as modifiers for your three basic spells. These items are of course also random but come with helpful tooltips to remind you of their benefits.
Item Altars: These uncommon structures serve as mini-markets, where (using mana points) you can purchase further enhancements for your spells. To use an altar, first select one of the 3 pedestals presented. The numeral above each pedestal is the amount of mana required to buy from that location.
The higher the cost, the better the items offered. To make things even more random, each pedestal contains two individual items, but you can only keep one! So to summarize, altars have a total of 6 items up for sale (3 pedestals containing 2 items each), only 1 of which you keep.
As you wander the dungeon, keep an eye out for a blue, stationary crystal. This is the exit to the next deeper map. Of course, each subsequent map is more dangerous than the last, but also more interesting. The first few levels found me in a typical dank cavern, combating rats and skeletons. But later I seemed to enter some sort of office building, or perhaps military installation, complete with laser-firing robots; totally unexpected!My only suggestion for improvement is to augment the graphics and sounds. The game genre itself may be getting long in the tooth, but enhancements to its presentation would, I believe, be welcomed by most players.
So overall, is Beyond Dimensions worth it? Priced on Steam at $5 (USD), the answer is yes. Despite the game’s difficulty and the inevitable moments of sudden disappointment as you almost beat that tricky boss, Beyond Dimension’s truly addictive nature will keep you coming back. Sprinkle in 45 Steam achievements and you have a fun, roguelike adventure with practically endless replay value.
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