Adventure Time. Cartoon Network’s hit show about a boy and his dog. With a series with such a well crafted world and many memorable characters, it seems that a game set in the world would be fantastic. Sadly, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon because I DON’T KNOW isn’t the game fans have been waiting for.
Explore the Dungeon follows Finn, Jake and all of their friends as they investigate the royal dungeon below castle Ooo. That’s the story. Short and sweet, just like the show. The story plays out in game boy color cutscenes with the voice actors from the show reprising their roles, it’s a cool way of telling the story, but the cutscenes lack any real movement and become boring quickly. It would have been nice to have animated cutscenes reminiscent of the show, but perhaps the development team at wayforward didn’t have the time to make them. Nor did they have the time to finish the game.
The game plays like a typical dungeon crawler, players run through a dungeon collecting treasure and money whole progressing deeper and deeper into the depths of the dungeon. The key difference here is that Explore the Dungeon lacks two fundamental mechanics that make dungeon crawlers fun. The game has no loot system, and no leveling up. These are critical components to a button mashing dungeon game, without them the enemies fee less like a way to increase in power, and instead become a chore to deal with. The fact there is no loot makes combat even more tedious, as spamming the Square button repeatedly without any form of variation makes the game a grind with a reward of nothing.
There is a way to upgrade characters base stats such as strength and magic, buy spending gold in the overworld. Characters from the show will be walking around offering to level up stats for a price. This would be fine in most situations, however Explore the Dungeon fails this execution with one simple factor: Entering the dungeon makes the player lose all of their gold. This means that gold cannot be saved to buy upgrades. If a player is 2 gold pieces away from getting an upgrade, they can’t quickly pop into the dungeon to grab a few more pieces. Instead, they will have to start again from zero and work their way back up to the amount required, going through the same floors again and again in hopes of getting the needed amount of gold. This works in games like Rouge Legacy because the combat is fast paced and the whole world is constantly changing and innovating. Explore the Dungeon has players play through the same grey dingy dungeon for 20 levels, then changes things up ever so slightly by having ice caves for 20 levels that play just like the grey dungeons. The gameplay feels completely unfinished, it’s clear there were more ideas that weren’t implemented, the idea of magic spells and parrying are implemented, but not to a degree that makes them any fun or useful.
The graphical style might be the biggest letdown. Adventure Time boasts some of the nicest looking cartoon visuals on TV right now, so how does the game compare? By having 2D game boy sprites run around a blank copy & paste world. The artstyle does nothing to wow or amaze, everything is bottom of the barrel and half done. There are no ester eggs or nods to the show in the environment, and the 6 variations of enemies there are have their one move and that’s it; charge at the player or shoot them from a distance off screen. It’s all just so bland!
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon because I DON’T KNOW is a complete let down. The game boasts no real reason for anyone to play it, even die hard Adventure Time fans. The games co-op might make the pain and tedium more manageable, but that’s not why we plays games, to “manage” them. There are hundreds of dungeon crawlers in the wild, and Explore the Dungeon might be one of the worst out there.
This review was previously posted on http://www.gamingcapacity.com/