Dungeon Twister for the PSN is a gaming adaptation of the popular French board game. The core concept seems deceptively simple: take a handful of fantasy characters from one part of the board to the next, or have them engage in combat. Whoever reaches the point goal first, wins. But that would be far too simplistic a way to describe this dauntingly complex game.
There are few tutorials as lengthy and frustrating as the one found in Dungeon Twister. It has twenty separate lessons that break down each individual mechanic of the game. While some of it is self-explanatory, most isn’t, so it’s difficult to jump into a match and have a strong grasp on how everything works. One of the biggest things is twisting the different sections of the dungeon in order to create a clear path or to fowl up an opponent’s strategy.
Then there are the unique abilities of each character. Goblins net two points when they cross the board, warriors can break gates, priests heal, trolls regenerate health, and so forth. It can become a bit much to remember who does what and to plan accordingly. Although the tutorial is thorough enough to teach players every trick in the game by the end of it, it’s a huge time investment and the AI is focused on winning these mock matches rather than letting players fulfill the conditions needed to move onto the next lesson.
There are plenty of strategies to consider against computer and human opponents alike. You can try to make a straight beeline to the opposite end of the board, purposefully trip up the opponent by blocking key points, and attacking and killing your opponent’s pieces. Dungeon Twister has enough depth that matches can turn into lengthy battles of wits in a game of chess-like complexity. This level of complexity is going to be what either draws or repels players to Dungeon Twister.
Some of it seems unnecessary, such as picking from a deck of cards to determine the number of moves in a turn. These moves are broken down into multiple steps that can feel like a slog, so it’s not for the impatient. Other things, like having to take a turn for jumping, feel needlessly restrictive, as does the limitation of only three jumps per game especially considering the many hazards throughout a board.
Playing against a live opponent is going to be the game’s biggest draw, but local play is curiously absent from the package. There’s online, but a number of crashes pulls things to a screeching halt. After picking up a saved match over several times, it doesn’t exactly endear the game. Other than that, online play feels responsive and at times even engaging.
Graphics and sound are bottom-of-the-barrel, with little to differentiate one board from the next or to give the characters a distinct personality or flair. The little endzone victory dances they do are cute and add a little personality, but quickly become annoying. The graphics get the job done and little else, while the music is entirely forgettable. It’s by no means a game designed to entice gamers with its visuals.
Still, Dungeon Twister is a strategy game defined entirely by its complexity and rules stacked on rules. Is it fun? Not necessarily, although it is designed to give strategy enthusiasts their money’s worth with a ridiculous amount of things to learn. But in its translation into the medium of digital gaming, Dungeon Twister would’ve benefited from some streamlining and simplification.
Six out of ten