Game: Dungeons of Clay
Genre: Platformer, Action, Arcade
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer|Publisher: shotX Studio | Ultimate Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $6.99 | UK £6.29 | EU € 6,99
Release Date: June 3rd, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Ultimate Games
Enter The Dungeon
Dungeons of Clay is a 2D rogue-like game where you play a little man that defeats enemies by pointing his fingers and shooting them. Everything’s also made of clay. So does it have the form to stand tall next to the other rogue-like greats on switch? Let’s find out.
The aim of the game is to clear out the room of enemies in order to progress to the next area. A counter at the top of the screen keeps track of how many nasties are left. Just like with every roguelike you can find new buffs to improve your stats and find little pets to offer some minor assistance in battle. But, as always, the chances are it’s going to take multiple playthroughs before you succeed. Your main protagonist’s weapon of choice is his hands which he aims like a pistol and surprisingly shoots out pellets.
You can find additional weapons like shotguns and SMGs and your character will change his hand gesture to suit the firearm style. It reminds me of playing cowboys and Indians when I was a kid and pointing my finger like a gun. Only someone made this design into a video game and unfortunately didn’t have the guns say ‘pow!’ like those days. Never mind. You can also make use of a dash ability to avoid incoming enemy fire or attacks. This feature never seemed to be useful and I tended to dash into bullets rather than avoid them.
Clear the Room Spin the Wheel
The controls are acceptable. I found the gunplay to be very slow-paced at the start of each run. You move with the left stick and aim with the right. It doesn’t feel as tight and satisfying as it should be. Often my shots would not meet their mark, your guns can also jam… which seems weird since the guns are your hands. Most enemies require multiple hits to take down and the whole pace of the game feels quite slow and grindy.
When you finish a level you spin a wheel which will cause a random event to happen like summoning more enemies, giving you a moment of peace or the silliest addition, spinning the wheel again. On one playthrough the wheel spun repeatedly three times. There really is no need for this feature and all it does is slow the pace down even further. Once this is finished you can enter the next area, but if you have collected any keys you can use these to enter other doors that may lead to helpful areas like a shop to spend your collected coins, health fountains or a giant chest filled with goodies.
A Boss Approaches
After the end of a few levels, you come up against an obligatory giant boss fight. Much like the enemies, these have absurd amounts of health adding further to the grind. Though there was one boss which required you to use a little thought and throw a projectile back at it. The trouble is with the flimsy controls it often didn’t reflect back in the right direction creating another slow boss fight. When you defeat the boss it drops a stone which gives you some perks that you can equip before another run, improving your chances of survival next time, or not.
Made of Clay
The graphics are soft and cartoony. I didn’t really see the clay-like design but maybe I just haven’t hung around enough video games where clay is the main inspiration. The last one I played was Clay Fighters on the Evercade. Seems there was a missed opportunity here, having the enemies shatter when defeated like clay pots.
The environments are dark and dungeon-like with some nice attention to detail to the backgrounds such as little flames lighting the areas. The main feature that stood out to me about the design was that there is a cool ghost fella that plays the saxophone when you start in the main area. It’s a cool idea and I kinda wish the entire soundtrack just rocked the saxophone numbers throughout. Video games need more jazz scores.
Bugs and Glitches
During the process of reviewing the game, I encountered several bugs and crashes on multiple playthroughs. I had five occasions where the game crashed or froze which is horrible when you’re having a good run. On one occasion I cleared a room full of enemies and the spinning wheel would not appear to progress the level.
My only option was to close the game and start again. Enemies would sometimes get stuck in platforms or just would not spawn in a room halting further progress. Also, the game has to load to go into the pause screen which just seems really odd for a game that doesn’t look like it takes much effort to run on a Switch console.
Conclusion – Jars of Clay with Cracks
Dungeons of Clay has some good ideas but in its current state, the game is let down by slow gameplay and a plethora of bugs that make it hard to recommend in its current state. Maybe better later but it’s not there yet.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure
As per previous reviews, I will check back on this game from time to time to see if any of the issues mentioned have been fixed.