We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
PC games software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Dungeons of Dredmor review


Manufacturer: Gaslamp Games

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

A mass of cheerful but cleverly complex adventuring for a minute price.

Indie games have been fixated on resurrecting retro-styled platformers for a good few years now, perhaps to excess - but of late there are heartening signs they're hoping to bring another genre back from the brink of extinction. 

Dungeons of Dredmor, a stupidly cheap PC roleplaying game, is one of several indie titles attempting to introduce roguelikes to a more modern audience. These are the more sadistic, measured cousins of dungeon-crawling click-frenzies like Diablo - turn-based, tactical and, often, bearing the threat of permanent death. Dredmor's no exception on that score. One wrong move and your large-eyebrowed hero can meet his doom - no comebacks, no reloads, no option other than to start all over again, leaving whatever wondrous loot you've managed to scavenge behind.

It might sound frighteningly hardcore, but it adds a thrill and a tension that its real-time cousins lack. It's not mindless, but rather a paranoid crawl across a monster-littered dungeon, forever trying to balance the desire for experience points and loot with staying alive.

There's much more to it than that, however. Despite a cartoon appearance and satirical tone, filled with monsters muttering Blackadderian insults and beneficent fish gods granting boons, Dredmor's quietly fat with distractions and complexities. From item crafting to opaque side-quests to what's quite possibly gaming's widest variety of mystic mushrooms, it's perfectly easy to distract yourself from the vital business of killing things in dungeons.

Exactly how you distract yourself depends somewhat on which of a vast choice of skills you pick. Do you want to summon moustachioed golems, turn invisible, brew potions, heal via vampirism, practice an arcane form of maths-based magic or simply hit stuff with two swords at once? It's important to not be distracted by all this choice and experiment wildly - Dredmor's cheerfully unforgiving. Find a character build that works (as well as please), keep consistent and try to specialise. You won't so much as see the dark lord Dredmor himself otherwise. The huge variety of abilities, items and incidental features - not to mention regularity of death - does mean, however, that this bears far more replay value than you'd ever expect of a £3 game

Dungeons of Dredmor

That bargain pricing also means it feels simply petty to criticise Dredmor, but at the same time its fiddly interface leaves plenty to be desired. A patch to correct some issues - such as the toolbars being microscopic at high resolutions - is incoming, so it's hardly a deal breaker. Especially given roguelikes are famously unintuitive in their controls, but Dredmor leaves unguessable key combinations behind in favour of altogether more modern controls.

With crushing inevitability, such common man-enticing changes to the rogue like formula have left the genre's most devout veterans sniffing dismissively at Dredmor. For sure, there are far more taxing (and punishing) examples out there, but Dredmor does an impressive job of bridging accessibility and sadistically unforgiving dungeon survival. Monstrously compulsive and slyly smart, plus there's just no arguing with that price.

Dungeons of Dredmor Expert Verdict »

OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7 Processor: Core 2 Duo/Athlon 64 or above recommended Memory: 1 GB of RAM minimum
2 GB recommended Hard Disk Space: 400+ megabytes Video Card: Any DirectX-compatible video device with a minimum resolution of 1024 x 600 or 1024 x 768 DirectX®: 9 Sound: Any DirectX-compatible audio device
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Sure, it could do with a bit of spit and polish on the interface side of things and it won't keep the hardcore happy for long, but Dungeons of Dredmor is a characterful, clever and subtly complex dose of alternative roleplaying.

  • Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup review

    Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

    Free RPG Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is one of a class of games known as roguelikes, after Rogue, the first such game. The ancient legacy is apparent. Although this open-source game has a graphics mode, it can also be played in straight ASCII, where your character is an "@" and the monsters are various letters or symbols. The "tiled mode" provides simple 2-D graphics.

  • Dungeon Siege III review

    Dungeon Siege III

    This action RPG will ease the wait for Diablo III, but it isn’t taking action roleplaying games anywhere particularly fresh.

  • Rogue Legacy review

    Rogue Legacy

    Death is in the family

  • Legend of Grimrock review

    Legend of Grimrock

    Vintage dungeon-running with a thoroughly modern atmosphere and a heart of darkness.

  • Diablo III review

    Diablo III

    The song remains the same for Blizzard's long awaited hack'n'slash sequel - but what a song.

IDG UK Sites

How to get a gold Apple Watch for £329: Save £7,500+ with this cool upgrade kit

IDG UK Sites

It's World Backup Day 2015! Don't wait another minute: back up now

IDG UK Sites

Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 4 is another disturbing sequel to Becky & Joe's YouTube hit

IDG UK Sites

History of Apple: how Apple came to lead the tech industry