Don’t let the name fool you. Dungeon Hunter has you hunting more than just dungeons. In fact, you’re not hunting dungeons at all, instead you’ll be hunting various enemies that just happened to be in a dungeon. I know, I know, that idea just probably blew your mind, but trust me when I say it’s for the best.
Dungeon Hunter is Gameloft’s attempt at the hack-n-slash RPG genre that has gone nearly untouched in the iPhone gaming market. The question is: Does the hack-n-slash RPG genre work on the iPhone platform and how well did Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter?
In Dungeon Hunter, you play a prince who single-handedly brings evil to his land when he attempts to resurrect his dead wife, who in the process of resurrection, kills him. Since he’s responsible for all the evil running rampant in the kingdom, he has been resurrected to clean up his mess. As the prince, you’ll play as one of three classes: Knight, Rogue, or Mage. Each character class has its own strengths and weaknesses such as the Knight can take and dish a lot of damage due to his strength and ability to wear heavy armor, while the Mage may lack defensive skill, but he makes up for it with the ability to cast a protective energy shield around him and his great offensive magic power.
As you progress through the game, you’ll meet various people who will give you quests and side-quests to perform. Some of these quests will actually progress the main story of Dungeon Hunter, while the side-quests will just be a mission or two from some guy who needs you to clear out his basement that’s full of monsters or something along those lines. For the most part, quests should be taken whether they’re important or not as the higher your character’s level, the better he’ll perform in later levels, especially during boss battles.
The controls on-screen are simple and nicely placed so your thumbs won’t have to run around to access the appropriate command. For you point-n-clickers, you’ll be happy to know there’s an option in the game to control your character’s movements through poking on the screen, although I found the virtual joystick to be more than adequate. Most PC and console hack-n-slash RPG games tend to have a high number of inputs for your character to perform various moves, but Dungeon Hunter keeps it simple: Attack, Special Attack, and Fairy Magic. You can have three special attacks at the ready while you’re playing which can be swapped with other special attacks through the game’s character menu system. You can also equip different fairies through the same system. Fairy magic and their effects vary depending on the fairy you have equipped (fire magic, earth magic, air magic, etc.). The fairies also give you a boost in defense in the element they use.
The character menu system shows your character’s stats, inventory, abilities, fairies, and quest log. The stats tab gives you information concerning your characters defense, damage, energy, and other various items of interest. The inventory shows any weapons and armor your character has picked up along the way. Abilities tab shows all of the abilities you can update your character with, both passive and non-passive. And finally the quest log which displays what quests you’re currently working on and a brief description as to what you should be doing.
One of the driving points of Dungeon Hunter is leveling up your character through killing enemies as well as upgrading weapons and armor. When your character levels up, you can visit the character menu to upgrade your stats and abilities. Weapons and armor can be found littered throughout the game world through various places such as enemies dropping loot after they are defeated or from the various chests and barrels that are placed in every map. Merchants are also available in various towns in the kingdom, but their merchandise usually aren’t so great. Each weapon and armor has a color attached to it, which indicates how rare the item is. The higher the items rarity, the better its boosts will be for your character. There are quite a lot of weapons and armor to be discovered, so a handy “transmute” button is available in the weapons tab to transmute your weapon or armor into cold hard gold! This feature can be quite useful when you find the ultimate weapon, only to be told you don’t have room for it in your inventory.
Graphically, Dungeon Hunter is one of the best looking iPhone games out right now. Character and enemy models look great and have a high amount of detail for it being on the iPhone platform. There have been times through playing I noticed the speed of the game drop, but that was due to a large amount of enemies being on screen at once (I also played on an iPhone 3G, which might have been the culprit as well). Sound effects are also top notch as each spell, attack, and enemy make their own unique sounds. If you decide to play your own music while playing Dungeon Hunters, the song information shows up in the top-right corner of the screen to which you can also change tracks on the fly.
During your adventure, you’ll be visiting a number of different locales. Each location has it’s own unique look and enemies. The game’s map menu acts as a central hub to which you can simply point on a location and be teleported there after a short loading screen. Speaking of loading screens, load times on an iPhone 3G were well under 30 seconds, which really surprised me. I should also mention through your adventure, you will unlock achievements through Gameloft LIVE! (yes, I know, very original). Gameloft LIVE! allows you to create a (free) account which keeps track of your achievements in Dungeon Hunter as well as other select titles from Gameloft. The achievements aren’t on the difficult side to achieve, but instead they’ll take some time to actually unlock (ex. completing the game as a Knight, Rogue and Mage)
My only concern with Dungeon Hunter was how easy the game is. With no way to change the game’s difficulty, the default difficulty wasn’t quite challenging enough. Regular enemies can easily be taken out with a couple of attacks. Boss battles posed more of a challenge, but still didn’t make me break a sweat as I could take them down in 1 or 2 minutes. As I mentioned earlier, there was a noticable bit of lag, but since I played the game on an iPhone 3G, I wasn’t able to distinguish if it was a game issue or a hardware issue.
FINAL THOUGHT: Dungeon Hunter is an iPhone title that should not be missed. It will keep a lot of players entertained for hours with its addictive gameplay and amazing graphics. This is $6.99 that is absolutely worth every penny.