PC Gaming

Dungeon Drafters Is My Potential Fixation Of 2023

Dungeon Drafters - Windows PC Gameplay

Dungeon Drafters

Developer: Manalith Studios
Release Date: April 27, 2023
Available as: Digital

Love them or hate them, cards and decks have become an integral part of roguelikes and RPGs over the span of the past few years. Since I've returned from PAX East, I've covered many more, with one released the day after PAX weekend! While the debate behind the card genre remains up for discussion, it's always an intriguing genre when utilized correctly. Simply do whatever action it tells you to do within a certain number of times each turn. The concept is no different than a regular RPG but the cards add just enough serotonin to feel good when a card combo goes off successfully. Dungeon Drafters is no different, yet everything else about it is.

The player must select a character before beginning a run, with each character representing a chosen archetype. Mages, brawlers, monks, and shinobi are all but several classes available to choose from yet one thing players will quickly notice is that the actual characters themselves matter little. There are several archetypes representing a different color and these are what make up a starting deck. One class may be "Red/Blue" while another may be "Blue/Yellow." Eventually, the player can receive a wide assortment of cards from booster packs that can either build off the archetype or start a new one.

There are tons of mini-games including a cool numbers game involving...slimes.

I decided to go with the Shinobi, whose deck is primarily "Red/Green" and expresses a more "hit and run" playstyle. I also tried out the other starter archetypes to see if there were any extreme differences in terms of playstyle and as it turns out it wasn't, not by a large margin. Players familiar with the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series will be greatly familiar with Dungeon Drafters' core mechanics. Players move from room to room, defeating enemies and solving puzzles along the way. Each unit has three Action Points to spend, with every action including walking, attacking, and using spell cards counting as a single action. Once the player uses up their action their turn ends and the opponent's turn begins.

Dungeon Drafters allows players to see a monster's danger zone, as in the range in which the mob will attack the player. Furthermore, it will also show the attack range of whatever attack the monster has up its sleeve. I love when games like this give players the option to view a target's danger zone. In games like Relayer, this was useful to avoid racking up casualties but in Dungeon Drafters, it's even more important as the player doesn't have access to heals outside of certain situations. There are rest rooms, plants that heal a single point, and other cards that work as support. Having as little damage done to the player as possible is always the best option, especially for bosses.

While it is possible to defeat the tutorial boss, it's greatly set up for the player to fail.

As with most card games, every used card ends up in the graveyard and they get recycled once every card in the deck is used. Unlike most card games, the deck doesn't reshuffle after every room. The only time a graveyard gets shuffled back into the deck is during a rest room. This offers up a bit of strategy, as the player can speed run to the rest room using all of their resources, replenish their items and health, and then go for a more cautious approach until the boss room.

Most cards are straightforward, with each color representing a specific theme. Red is generally rush down while green is for mobility for example. Certain colors synergize well with others while certain strategies may work for certain situations. Since the Shinobi is a ninja, most of her kit involves stealth and eliminating targets before they can move. After the tutorial, the player will wake up in the nearby church. This is where the main town is located, where players can talk to NPCs, use services like shops and banks, as well as take on quests. The player can build relationships with various tutors who will reward the player should they complete goals for them.

It seems like Red has moved on from Pokemon challenges.

The player is free to tackle any of the dungeons in any order, however going to The Tower should be greatly avoided unless the player is absolutely ready. Attending The Tower is the main point of Dungeon Drafters and the player can take on the challenge whenever. The player will quickly find out that it is an absolute gauntlet and that being underprepared is a swift end. I found that there was occasional confusion with the controls but that is mainly more on my personal experience. Selecting a card and moving your character involves using the directional pad. Pressing "A" brings up the card menu in which you can then choose your card, but I would often move my character by accident before "pressing A." That would mean a wasted turn and ultimately a risk to me as I'm now out of my ideal position.

I'm not sure if this is the type of game to implement this sort of thing but I wish that Dungeon Drafters had a bit of a "redo" feature, where you can undo a move if a mistake was made. Most games including Fire Emblem have a way to undo actions, with Three Houses undoing entire turns yet I can understand why this wouldn't exist in Dungeon Drafters. This game was made with more of a roguelike action take in mind and every mistake made is an opportunity for the player to fix it. While I would love it if genuine mistakes were the cause of my downfall and not "walking when I meant to play a card," it teaches the player to remain attentive.

Each color represents a specific archetype and gameplay mechanic, making each playstyle easy to understand.

At the time of this first impression, I've gone through an hour of what the game has to offer and it's far little time to scratch the surface. I love the art style, the music, the classic 2000s online MMO aesthetic captured in a dungeon-crawling card game, and so much more. While the game's difficulty serves as a wall, it's not a frustrating thing but rather, like all roguelikes I've played, an incentive to try again each time. A special thanks to DANGEN Entertainment for giving us a chance to cover Dungeon Drafters!

Dungeon Drafters is now available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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