Dungeon Twister is a PSN/ XBLA title that was recently released, apparently based on a board game of the same name. Not that I knew this going in, considering the only trailer for it I had seen featured several fantasy characters singing and dancing in a hip hop video with a wizard pretending to be Michael Jackson. Ridiculous choice of advertising aside however, I really enjoyed this one.
There is a sizable amount of rules and strategic planning to this game. If you’re coming into this with no knowledge of the game beforehand, definitely start with the training mode. I was impressed with how well it introduced every layer of the game. Especially considering how complicated it is once all those elements come together in the end.
The basic idea behind the game is you and your opponent have about eight different fantasy trope characters, such as a warrior, troll, goblin, wizard, etc. You each are trying to gain victory points by either getting your characters to your opponent’s side of the board or by eliminating their characters in combat. Each piece you have interacts with the dungeon differently based on their movements or special abilities.
For instance, wizards can float over pitfalls, thieves can open portcullises and wall walkers can walk through walls (shocking).
At the beginning of the game, the layout of the dungeon is completely hidden from both sides, each player has to reveal each room of it during play. Elements of the game are distributed through these rooms by each player at the set up, neither side knowing what the other has placed in the room. You decide what four characters you have at your side of the board and place the remaining four in the rooms along with special items like treasure chests.
When a room is revealed, the elements that were placed on the rooms are dropped in specific areas based on which player revealed the room and whose items they are.
Of course, there’s also the twisting from which the game actually receives its name. Every room has a crank in it that a character can use to turn either the room they are in, or another room in the dungeon of the same color. It’s a useful tool if you want to trap your opponent or open up a corridor to make it easier to travel to the other side of the board.
Games can get fairly intense if you get 2 strategically minded players going against each other that have to rethink their approaches as the board is revealed.
Considering all the different ways to play to get to the set number victory points. The game is greatly improved by playing against another person, some people have different aspects of the game they excel at which can make for some interesting variety.
The computer falls into the general issues of single mindedness or lack of organic foresight to see what you’re doing on the normal difficulties, or on higher levels knows all the nasty tricks to set up its victory.
Unfortunately, it took me awhile to get anybody to play against online. The game doesn’t appear to have that big a community, at least not yet. It might be better to make sure you have another buddy with the game that you can set up matches with. It’s a shame that there’s no way to play a local game, though it would be difficult to keep opponents from seeing where you put your pieces on the board if there was.
The presentation of the game is appealing and quirky. The characters have little touches of personality, especially when they do a little victory dance if they make it to the other side of the board. All in all, it does a good job creating a video game representation of what was mostly pieces of cardboard accurately and in a fun way. It’s not jaw dropping, but what do you expect from a $9.99 download game.
It doesn’t try to add anything nonsensical such as video game versions of board games. For example there’s a mahjong game on PSN that implements the usage of bombs and hammers, which I’m sure would be considered bad form in your average Chinese household. After checking out the actual board game, I can say this is definitely a 100% translation of the game it’s based upon.
Though I find it somewhat odd that it does not include the expansion that allows you to play with up to 4 people.
If you like strategy board games but also want to see figurines fight and dance around the board, for the price there’s value here. It’s a complex game that has a lot to it, the only thing really dragging it down is the difficulty in finding a person to play online.