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  • Writer's pictureL. Sahara McGirt

Review: Dungeon Drafters

When the first couple of emails came across my inbox about Dungeon Drafters, I was interested but too busy at the time to take on more reviews. I like a good deck-building game, and Dungeon Drafters is not only a deck-building game but has a tile-based combat and roguelike gameplay system that looked like it would make deck-building a little more interesting. With the recent release of Dungeon Drafters to the console, I now had the time to check it out, so I went ahead and jumped on reviewing it.

I had no idea what I was getting into. Dungeon Drafters is hard. I mean difficult. I mean, you will put in the grind and the work to succeed at this game. I only had about seven days to work on it, and I'm halfway through the more difficult dungeons. I am determined to keep playing at it and see the game through to the end. I like a challenge, and I will defeat this game.

Dungeon Drafters starts you off with a choice of 6 characters to play with. Each has different starting decks with its own combinations of archetypes to begin your adventures in dungeon-crawling. I started out with the Mage character and didn't quite like the style of that character, so I restarted and went with the Shinobi. I'm more of a melee and run type of player when it comes to any kind of game, so the Shinobi worked for me perfectly. However, Dungeon Drafters is a deck-builder, so players can start with just about any character and change up their deck cards and archetypes to suit their playstyles as they go.

What sets Dungeon Drafters apart from other deck-builders is the tile-based combat and especially the dungeon-crawling aspect which is what makes the game a roguelike. You will have to strategize in Dungeon Drafters and crawl the most basic of dungeon levels over and over before you're able to take on the next dungeon and levels successfully. Thankfully, the dungeons never stay the same and change every time they're played through, so they never get boring. Sometimes, though, it seemed like some playthroughs of a level in a dungeon were harder than others.

At some points, Dungeon Drafters felt frustrating and impossible as I played through levels, lost my total HP, and got sent back to town, free of all the loot I gathered. Then, I finally realized I needed to bite off less than I could chew rather than trying to power my way through the next level. Each setback was a chance to learn and restrategize my deck until I was defeating the first few dungeon levels with ease. Knowing when to quit a dungeon and return to town with your spoils is just as important in Dungeon Drafters as being able to strategize.

Each time a dungeon level is completed, and you return to town, you can take your spoils and use them to build up your deck. Loot includes individual cards, boosters, and shards, which can be used to purchase copies of cards you already own in town. Building up a library of cards is probably the most important aspect of Dungeon Drafters, so completing dungeon levels and returning to town is detrimental to succeeding in the game.

The town offers other activities like fishing and a puzzle mini-game that gives prizes, as well as NPCs who give quests regarding archetypes and using specific game strategies. Completing those quests gives some pretty fantastic loot, so building up and using multiple different types of decks is one of the smartest moves to make in Dungeon Drafters.

Dungeon Drafters isn't all deck-building and roguelike. It also has a plot that runs throughout the game with discoveries to be made scattered throughout the dungeons. It's very much background to the overall gameplay but adds a nice element of wonder to exploring.

The game plays beautifully on the Xbox Series X console. The only real problem I found is that the controls are not exactly intuitive. The button mapping is a bit all over the place in terms of what's typical, and it takes a while to get used to.

If you're down for a challenging roguelike with deck-building and plenty of strategizing, I highly recommend Dungeon Drafters. If you are looking for the kind of roguelike that gets easier as you get better at it, you might want to avoid this one. Dungeon Drafters is not for the gamer who is looking for an easy go at a game whatsoever. Dungeon Drafters is out now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation for about $24.99 and is well worth the purchase.

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