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Dungeon of Clay Review

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Fast Facts

Dungeons of Clay
Developer: ShotX Studio
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Website: https://shotxstudio.com/
Genre(s): Platformer, Roguelite, Adventure, Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 03/06/2021
Price: £6.29

A code was provided for review purposes

Being a massive Roguelite fan, I was interested to see what Dungeon of Clay had to offer. Can it stand shoulder to shoulder with the heavyweights of the genre, such as Dead Cells, Enter the Gungeon or Neon Abyss? Let’s find out!

Finger Gun Action

As mentioned, Dungeon of Clay sees the protagonist go through procedurally generated, multi-platformed, two-dimensional dungeons. The aim is to defeat all the enemies in the room. This will also trigger a roulette which, depending on where the needle lands, will either aid or hinder the player. Carrying out these tasks will allow the player to advance to the next area.  Although there are still a few things to bear in mind. Enemies drop gold coins and keys which can be used to purchase items and open chests. There are also random doors which take you to shops, healing fountains and other paths, which all require a certain amount of keys.

man is standing in the centre of a blue room with a gun
Exploring the map

The protagonist will be able to pick up power-ups which will offer boons, as well as negative effects, and there are also specific cards that will come in handy. He will be able to aim around freely, jump to access higher platforms, and dash out of harm’s way, which requires a cooldown to take effect. Although he uses ranged weapons, such as guns, machine guns and shotguns, these are represented as hand gestures. It was a nice touch and not something I’ve seen before in gaming.

Rapidfire Aiming

Controls are simple to learn and the game offers Lock On Assist and other settings, that can be activated through the options menu. As expected, the character is moved with the left stick, whilst aiming is achieved with the right stick. The player can fire the weapon with the shoulder ZR button. Although controls are great, it would have benefited from having an auto-fire feature, instead of having to press the fire button over and over again. This is just an observation and a personal opinion.

The developers did promise that no two runs will feel the same and that is really on the money. Levels may seem repetitive at a glance until chests reward random items, different enemies habit the level and the exiting doors offer different routes.

Character standing in front of a skeleton of a shopkeeper
Multiple ways to customize a run

The gameplay can be pretty punishing, as the guns collected don’t do enough damage, but the randomness of power-ups, levels and weapons, not to mention the end level roulette, will keep the player wanting to carry out that one more run to get further. The bosses that appear after every third level could have possibly been randomised as well, but it is more of an observation on my part than a critique. Once defeated, they will drop a power stone and random items. There are also skeletal merchants, who will trade crystals for gold, needed to buy his wares.

Clay In Style

The characters have been created using simple shapes, held together to create a two-dimensional marionette animation. The levels have some stunning backdrops, littered with torches drowning out the darkness with a posterised, whimsical glare. This is also achieved via the butterflies scattered around the level and the totem-like structures. Colours really do pop out of the screen, especially when played on an OLED Switch. The soundtrack has a mixture of songs, with the Jazz tune being my favourite.

Man with gun standing in the center of a room with locked doors
Lots of locked doors

I did not encounter any stutters, frame drops or bugs whilst playing this game. I was made aware that early versions have some performance issues and game-breaking bugs, albeit chances are that reviewing the game over a year after release means that they have probably ironed out all the issues.

Permadeath One More Time

Being a Roguelite, and a tough one at that means that you’ll need to learn from your mistakes and recognize what works with your play style. The boss battles can be brutal, but fun and satisfying once defeated. I found the first boss, the three-eyed Gazooks probably the most challenging, mainly because of its homing barrage attack, which required good evasive manoeuvres. I did manage to learn from trial and error and defeat it eventually, but less patient players may find some frustrations with the difficulty spike.

Verdict

Dungeon of Clay is a simple yet satisfying roguelike platformer, which requires little in-depth experience in the genre, making it an accessible game, for long or short bursts. At first glance, Dungeons of Clay can across as an old Flash or mobile game, but there is a lot to love here. It doesn’t hold to the same calibre as others in its genre, but for under £7, or your regional equivalent, it’s an easy recommendation. If you are looking for an affordable Roguelite Platformer, this may be for you.

Rapid Reviews Rating

3 out of 5

3

You can purchase Dungeons of Clay on the Nintendo eShop here

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