Dungeon Crash is another iOS “RPG” game similar to Heroes Charge, Summoner War, Heroes of Dragon Age, and countless others. I use the term “RPG” lightly, as my gaming experience calls Boulder's Gate, Mass Effect, and Diablo RPGs. It really feels we need a new term for these type of games other than “RPG” as they all pull the same elements as eachother, though each tries to have its all special nuance. But for the sake of simplicity, I'll just use RPG here.
Mobile RPG mechanics all center around gathering your 3 to 6 heroes battle increasingly more difficult waves of enemies. Typically, you have “worlds,” each consisting of a number of battles and each battle containing 1-3 waves of enemies. Dungeon Crash is no different: It has the same core mechanic of gathering your heroes (in this case, 5 per battle) and fighting 1-3 waves of monsters. Like most the other games, you collect heroes and items which need to be broken down to create new ones and get the ones you like. Similarly to most RPG games, Dungeon Crash does indeed throw in its own little twists. Some of it is good and actually had me hooked, but some of the user interface choices are extremely frustrating.
*The Battles: These are like most other RPGs. If you've played one, you've played Dungeon Crash. The little nuance is you have 3 classes: Melee DPS, Range DPS, and Healer. Little floaty icons for each class appears on the screen as you hit enemies. Tap the icons and then click you hero to do an extra attack. Even though the battles have nothing new, they're still enjoyable and fast paced enough to leave me bored.
*The Grind – The Good: This is partly where the name gets its name from. You have a little village and underneath it, there's a dungeon starting at level 1. You'll unlock more dungeons as the game goes on. You can assign up to 3 heroes to each of the dungeon levels to automatically take care of business. Like most mobile games, this automation takes some period of time which can be sped up through in game currency. At the end, you get prizes like treasure chests and crystals. I like the dungeon element because 1) It's easy to assign everyone in like 2 minutes, 2) it gives something for all those extra, useless heroes you pick up and 3) you can still fight battles with heroes at the same time they're assigned to dungeon tasks. Basically, the dungeon element gives a parallel method of grinding items & materials which I can appreciate because, lets face it: All RPGs have an element of grinding.
I also appreciate that at you castle a random visitor appears every so often, which stacks up to 10 so you don't have to always be logged in. The visitor will give you something useful like a quest, crystals, or treasure chest. This is an easy way to insensitive players to log in just to check their visitors, even if it's for a few minutes. I much prefer it to the typical, “Login every day for progressively better gifts,” method mobile games tend to employ as the sole means of free stuff. Dungeon Crash does give out a decent amount of free stuff to help you feel like you're progressing.
*The Grind – The Bad. Like most RPGs, you'll end up salvaging heroes and gear to enhance or get better stuff. But here's the annoying thing for gear: You salvage green & blue gear to get Magic Dust. But as far as I can tell, the only thing I can purchase with Magic Dust is more blue gear. And considering there's only 2 sets of blue gear – most of which I've already randomly found – then salvaging gear for materials is a pointless feedback loop. Add to that something I find very obnoxious: You cannot salvage gear you've leveled up. You must pay with crystals to Rebirth and item back to level 1 so it can be salvaged. I just find that an irritating method to get players to pay for crystals. At least when I salvage heroes and get Soul Gems, those can be purchase for all kind of higher-level heroes and materials. That, I can enjoy.
Another complaint is that it seems that the only way to grind for better gear via the Gear Shop is by grinding the Labyrinth, a one-a-day dungeon where you try and beat as many waves as you can. While I don't mind the Labyrinth, it does create a single point of grinding that I was hoping to avoid.
*The user interface – The Positives: The home screen is useful in that you're guided on what to do next. Have an open gear slot? Here's a red dot! Don't know what to do next? Oh look, there's the quest dot! How are my dungeons doing? Just click on the treasure chest icon to collect them all and reassign heroes. The interface aspect of figuring out where your progress in terms of grinding is at and what to do next is friendly.
*The user interface – The Frustrating: Managing your gear and heroes. The first time you get gear a hero in your lineup can use, you get the magic red dot designating they have an open slot for it. Great! The issue is anytime you get better gear. I must first go to the Lineup screen, click on my individual hero, select 1 of the 6 item slots, click change, and then try and find a better piece of gear. I find this frustrating for two reasons: 1) Knowing when you've actually found better gear (a lot of games will give you that magic red dot when where's better gear to equip – not just for an empty slot to be filled) 2) Stat comparison. When I go to look at different gear, the gear I'm looking to change goes off screen so I have no idea what I'm comparing it to. You briefly see a +/- of numbers if you change gear, but it is so brief you don't really know what the change is unless you write it down.
This issue also goes for heroes. When looking at the list of all your heroes, all I see if the list of their level, fate (alignment), class, and if they're in your lineup. Their stats are noticeably missing. Do different characters within the same tier (eg, Unique, Epic, Legendary) have better or worse stats at the same level? Hell if I know! Short of writing stats down or finding a wiki, I have no easy way to tell. The other major interface issue: when looking to grind shards (eg, needing 20 hero shards to recruit a hero), I have no idea what their class is. No contextual clue or ability to click on that hero to see what the deal is. Same thing with gear. In a game where you can spend days collecting enough shards to recruit a hero, you're probably looking for a certain class. But I'm unable to even tell what class the hero I'm grinding is is for or what the item's optimal class is. This is extremely frustrating to me and takes away a lot of desire to grind.
Dungeon Heroes does actually have a lot going for it. I like the multiple paths to grind. I love the dungeon aspect to put your crappy heroes to use. The gameplay itself is solid. But then there are the user interface aspects that are just terrible. However, my issues are fixable, and if they do change, I will most likely come back. Even a simple patch to allow me to click on a hero shard to see their level 1 stats, fate, and class would go a long ways to improving my experience. If you like RPGs, it's worth giving Dungeon Heroes a whirl and may find yourself hooked. But if you've never liked the genre, I'm not sure it brings enough to the table to bring in a new audience.