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Dungeon Village – iOS

Dungeon Village – iOS

Dungeon VillagePlatform:  iOS

Release Date (NA):  March 2nd, 2012

Developer:  Kairosoft

Genre:  Simulation, City Builder

Rating: 7 out of 10

What better way to kick off a fresh round of 100 reviews than delving into thus far uncharted territory for Nerd Bacon?  I’m no mobile game aficionado, but I’ve played my fair share.  While most games are just a little too short and repetitive, their presence can no longer be ignored by an objective gaming community, and I don’t mind saying that Dungeon Village is one of the finest games I’ve played for an iOS device.

Dungeon VillageThe game plays out like a medieval city builder while the player acts as a sort of mayor / manager / founder / planner.  The idea is to grow one’s city into a large and bustling area specifically tailored to “adventurers.”  These adventurers are NPC’s at heart, but they run around as if in an RPG.  So even though the player is playing through more of a simulation game, the important NPC’s walking around are all in their own RPG world.  As the mayor (and additional roles above), it is the player’s job to both build up a town that is attractive to these adventurers and to a smaller degree facilitate some of their RPG-ish needs.  An RPG within a game that isn’t an RPG itself…sound confusing?  It can be at first.  One does need to spend a little time getting to know the ins and outs of Dungeon Village but soon all will fall into place.

Like all city building games, the most coveted resource is money.  And also as in most city builders, there is a very delicate period near the beginning where one must spend money to make money without going too far into debt.  Thankfully, (or perhaps not depending on how hard you like your games to be), the first time one dips below zero your assistant whips out a moderate emergency fund.  Should the town fall into debt a second, third, sixth, or twelfth time, the balance simply accrues as a negative number.  Of course any funds you gain go directly towards paying down the debt and the player will be unable to spend anything, but the game doesn’t end after any set period in the negative.  While it won’t do anyone any good to go into copious debt, it can provide a bit of a cushion if one accidentally overspends.  As long as the overspent money has indeed been spent well, the mayor will undoubtedly see a return before too long.

Dungeon Village

The money is used to erect buildings as well as to purchase individual items such as armor and weapons.  The heroes and warriors that drop by from time to time like to have restaurants to eat at, pubs to drink at, fruit stands, stew shops, ice cream parlors (yes, ice cream parlors in 1254 A.D.) and a slew of other town and warrior related buildings to Dungeon Villagespend their money at.  Given enough time and “satisfaction” (more on this measurement soon) adventurers will want to move in, at which point a house needs to be built.  Remember, all these warriors are playing their own little RPG.  Each building has a specific function like in any RPG, for example inns restore health, combat schools increase fighting abilities, and so on.  The computer-controlled heroes make all these decisions on their own, and in order to use the services offered by the player’s town, the NPCs need to spend money.  This is the main source of income.  As more adventurers move into the town, money increases because these characters are constantly within city limits unlike those just visiting who may be absent for long periods of time.

Dungeon VillageIt is up to the NPCs to equip themselves by buying items at weapon and armor shops, but the mayor can aid in making them stronger and providing “satisfaction” points.  Whenever the major gives a player a gift (typically the gift needs to be significantly stronger than whatever comparable item the NPC is already equipped with), the warrior’s satisfaction increases; they’ve basically been provided a strong incentive to visit and eventually live in a town where the mayor gives them free stuff.

Dungeon Village

As the mayor, the player can choose to buy these items directly from the relevant shops, but it is far more common to distribute the spoils of war.  War?  Well, it isn’t exactly war, but there are quests that appear at regular intervals.  For a fee, the mayor can choose to tackle quests as they appear.  To be expected, quests become progressively harder, though both the visiting and resident warriors should have no trouble keeping up most of the time.  No more than a couple of quests will appear unless those already presented are cleared, and it’s usually a good idea to undertake quests as soon as one’s warriors are ready.  After awhile there will be more than enough adventurers to start quests whenever they appear, but early on one must take caution not to spread forces too thinly.  Also, the longer the heroes spend fighting monsters in quests, the less time they will have to spend money in the town.  Quests involve defeating some particular group of monsters just outside of the city, or setting off to explore a nearby geographic feature such a cave, swamp, or volcano.  Characters collect experience points and treasure along the way, turning any of their findings over to the mayor.  This is a great way to distribute some of the more high-end armor and weapons before one can easily afford the shop prices of such items.

Dungeon VillageWhen a quest is accepted, volunteers are asked for.  It loosely depends on how many adventurers are living in and visiting the town as to how many characters will volunteer, but the number is usually sufficient.  If a particularly challenging quest arises and one feels the need to recruit additional adventurers, they can be hired for a fee, dependent on how much he or she has leveled up.  This is also a useful strategy for those times when Dungeon Villageseveral weaker newcomers have volunteered and a few stronger ones are needed.  If a quest is taking too long to be completed, the mayor is forced to pay additional fees.  If and when this starts happening, the best solution is to recruit more warriors and/or reequip current participants with stronger gear.  Characters cannot be killed, but they can be defeated.  When their health is depleted outside of the walls, they must either be carried by another warrior to the inn or rest long enough to regain enough health the make it to the inn themselves.  Also, the mayor can opt to give them some sort of life-restoring item (food, among other things) to put the hero back into play quickly.

Dungeon VillageCharacters level themselves up through using services in the town, participating in quests, and engaging in random monster battles outside of town.  Buildings can be upgraded as well, but it took me some time to figure out how.  Random items must be “used” on these buildings, which slowly but steadily brings up how often the establishment is visited and how much money it charges.  This is all a complex process figuring out which items work best for which buildings (champagne works very well at the Fancy Restaurant, meat does well to increase the Stew Shop, etc.).  This process takes a great deal of time, and while entire town upgrades help (the whole town is expanded and all stats are increased slightly once a set number of conditions have been reached), it’s important to spend some time all along leveling up the buildings for increased revenue.  It’s a great way to use up all the cheese, fish, ham, and other assorted items found during quests; there are truly a ton of items available.

Dungeon VillageEventually the player will have the option to add a cauldron to the town, where special items (some of the stranger ones like a Stuffed Bear, Pinata, Donut, and so on) can be cooked together to form other items.  Generally these new items come in the form of specialized armor and weaponry, particularly hard to find pieces with a lot of power.  Once created, the new item is free to be used by the mayor, who can sell it for coins or give it to a player.  After an item has been discovered using the cauldron, it will be available for anyone to purchase in the corresponding shop.  Magic of 4 types can also be acquired via the cauldron (and only via the cauldron if I’m not mistaken), which outfits the character with a whole new set of attacks in addition to his or her other abilities.

Dungeon VillageOnce characters reach level 10, they can be switched to a new occupation.  Most occupations have certain strengths and weaknesses, but the progression is also rather linear so there’s never much of a reason to give a player a new occupation at a lower level.  It essentially knocks down their stats severely and takes some time to build back up.  Switching occupations does however increase satisfaction, so if one is nearing completion and looking for a way to up satisfaction points, this is the perfect way.  Also at the end of each year medals are awarded.  Depending on particular achievements, the “Adventurer’s Guild” awards the town with a set number of medals.  As the mayor, it is up to the player which characters receive these medals.  A nice chart of what each player has done is presented, showing how many coins earned, how many spent, quests participated in, monsters defeated, and other useful information that can help determine who should receive medals.  Medals also increase satisfaction, so even in years where someone who has a lot of medals has only done slightly better than someone with fewer (or better yet, none) medals, it’s a good idea to try to distribute them equally.  After all, a character’s satisfaction level can’t go down.

Dungeon VillageThe view of Dungeon Village is top down, and any character or building can be selected to see further information such as a warrior’s stats or how much money a specific building is taking in per visit.  All sorts of charts and tables are included allowing the mayor to analyze his or her town from an aspect.    While control of the NPCs is limited, is pretty easy to encourage them to do what is needed through either money or gifts.  They also don’t really require any maintenance since once stats have gone up they can’t come down, unless the stats come with a certain occupation which is changed or from weapons and armor who’s equipped status has been changed.

Dungeon Village is extremely addictive once the initial learning curve is passed and there’s enough content to keep most anyone busy for a week or two.  My only 2 complains are regarding the length (or lack thereof) and the difficulty (or lack thereof) present in the game.  Much of what I mentioned about characters never dying, negative balances being almost trivial, and not having to maintain previously advanced characters can lead to a predictable game the second time around.  Almost any problem can be solved with money, and if money is the problem, it can be solved with time.  On the one hand I can understand that mobile games are shooting more for entertainment value than true gaming artistry, but the ease inherent in Dungeon Village is still enough to give it a slightly different feel from video games on dedicated consoles.  I also wish that the playing area could be rotated in 90° increments (or at least 180°) so that smaller buildings obstructed by larger ones could be better seen.  A minor issue, but it is frustrating when going through the process of upgrading establishments.

Dungeon VillageAfter the town undergoes its final upgrade, a message from the assistant will pop up going on about how everything is basically done.  One can keep playing the game, but nothing “new” is going to happen.  Depending on how quickly the conditions for the final upgrade are reached, not every adventurer will have moved in or even visited, all buildings may not be leveled up to their highest extent, all “cauldron recipes” may not be discovered, and perhaps a few other odds and ends.  Quests will continue but they will stop getting harder.  After a point, no more new treasure will be found, no new warriors will visit, no new buildings will beome available, and so on.  Again, depending on how much progress is made before the final upgrade it can still be fun to go and unlock all the secrets of the cauldron, continue leveling up players in the highest occupation (Kairobot), and anything else towards 100% completion.  When everything is done, the game is still playable, but sadly there isn’t much point.

Obviously saving one’s game is going to be a necessity in a large game like this, and Kairosoft couldn’t have made it any easier; the “Save” button is nice and clear in the bottom left of the screen.  Dungeon Village also regularly saves itself, so if something more pressing happens on one’s mobile device in the middle of play and the app doesn’t pick up immediately where it left off, there won’t be hours and hours of work to redo.  Two save slots are provided as well.  Since two people rarely share any mobile devices, I see it as more of an opportunity to save the game at a critical juncture or change in strategy; in case something fails miserably one can have a stable, working version of one’s village to fall back on.  Dungeon Village is also equally playable held horizontally or vertically.

Dungeon VillageOverall, Dungeon Village is a pretty amazing game for a mobile device.  Were it on a dedicated device I’m sure I would hold it to higher standards, but considering a lot of what’s out there for the iOS and Android, it’s a game full of depth and choices.  Sure, there are aspects that need to be tweaked and revised, but it is a unique title amongst all the puzzle and otherwise simple games in the App Store.  More releases like Dungeon Village could definitely legitimize mobile gaming and move it out the realm of inconsistency and gimmicks, and into an era of well-designed and competently made titles worth more than something to pass the time with in a waiting room.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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