We Slay Monsters – The Academy for Dungeoneering – Preview

ATTENTION! This is an early access game, which means that as of time of writing, the game is unfinished and lacking in features. Make sure you are fully aware of this before purchasing, should you intend to do so.

In the words of the developers: “We Slay Monsters streamlines traditional roguelike RPG gameplay and introduces a unique poker-esque card based combat mechanic. Each class (Wizard, Rogue, Warrior, or Cleric) has a unique deck of cards; using this deck you will guide your hero through the dungeon. Each dungeon is designed to play in short bursts, with a single dungeon taking 15-25 minutes to complete (or even less if your hero dies). “

As it stands the game is unfinished, and that is extremely obvious, but the core mechanics are there; and there is enough content for us to have a sneak peak at it, and hopefully help out the developers in completing their game with our suggestions and critique.

THE MAIN MENU

There is nothing much I can personally say about it as there is not much there: Play – Options -Quit. Those are pretty self-explanatory however the Options menu is disappointing to say the least: It contains one button (which incidentally is not really an option):

This needs some work

This needs some work

Granted this is a Unity game, so you can rebind keys and change graphics settings from the Unity launcher, however there is no way to adjust the volume of anything within the game which is a big minus. Good thing it’s not a finished product as the developers can always add this feature in at a later time.

GAMEPLAY

There is a map, which you can see in the background of the main menu. From the map you can select a dungeon and then a hero to send to their demise based on pure luck, as there are no stats shown on the heroes in order to make an informed decision:

WSM character pick

After which you are thrown into the dungeon with no explanation on how the combat system works or what your goal is:

Capture

If you search a little online there is a video made by the developers explaining the mechanic and the rules of the game, but these rules should really be included under a help menu or in the form of a tutorial as otherwise you’re left scratching your head.

The art style is not bad. The monsters have a cutesy look to them and for a game that is developed on a tight budget I think they made a very good job of the aesthetics (graphical and visual). Yes there are no animations to the characters apart from very basic spell animations but there is nothing inherently wrong with the visuals themselves and the game is overall not a stress on the eyes or ears, the music being especially well crafted for this title.

The whole gameplay is turned-based. In a turn you can choose to either move or attack. The monsters do the same which can be a flow breaker. Taking the screenshot above as an example, if I wanted to move from the current position all the way through that narrow corridor, each time i’d move I have o wait for every monster on the screen to do an action as well, which takes some time. This breaks the game flow a lot as now I’m stuck doing a boring, time-consuming task until my next encounter with a monster.

Two of a kind seems to boost damage significantly

Two of a kind seems to boost damage significantly

You use the deck of cards bellow your character to determine your attack. These cards can be combined in poker configurations in order to increase the damage of your spells. Without a poker combination you can only do one attack per turn, thus making the combat a little chance-based. After you’ve used 1, 2, 3, 4 or even all 5 cards these get replaced with new ones from the deck.

Overall the core mechanic is solid, which makes the game fun to play, but the menu system is what drags it down the most due to its lack of information:

Surely these two windows could have fitted side by side instead of me having to press a button to see my stats and compare them to the item I've just found

Surely these two windows could have fitted side by side instead of me having to press a button to see my stats and compare them to the item I’ve just found

Leveling up feels a little meaningless. Getting to a new Level doesn’t take much effort and it happens so often that it gives you no satisfaction for your achievements. Once you player has leveled up, you’re presented with a menu and forced to select in which trait you would like to put in your extra skill point, breaking the flow of the game and giving you no option to postpone your decision for a later time so that you can adapt to a more difficult situation and make an intelligent decision:

Yes I'll put 1 point in Intelligence... whatever that means...

Yes I’ll put 1 point in Intelligence… whatever that means…

Plus there is no way of knowing which spells these new stats affect, bringing me back to my previous point: lack of information. In a game where death is permanent, it is important to know as much as possible  in order to avoid a tragic mistake, that coud punish a player for no reason at all and force them to restart the whole dungeon with a new character causing a lot of frustration.

CONCLUSION

It’s not bad, you can certainly tell that some attention to detail went into the development of We Slay Monsters but it is certainly unfinished. Aesthetics are great and the core mechanic is interesting and satisfying but it’s the details that take the fun out of the experience. Fortunately it is still in early access and there is still plenty of time left to address these small problems and make it into a great little game to play in your free time.

Should there be no more issues at release, the game would be well worth it’s $4.99 asking price.

Right now the game in in the process of being greenlight on steam: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=279434323

If you wish to support the development of the game you can do so on their website: http://weslaymonsters.com/


Howdy y'all! I'm a Systems Engineer working day (and sometimes night) to fix all of your VoIP communications problems but my heart resides with the over-captivating world of gaming. Although I can't say too much about gaming engines and raw usage of the GPU, when it comes to multiplayer LAN, WAN, MMO or CO-OP (local or otherwise) I'm your guy. Follow me on : Google + , Twitter, Facebook

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