Dungeon Runners Review

Free games are pretty plentiful nowadays, especially with the Internet being close to everywhere in the world. Good free games are pretty common too, but good free online games can be a rare breed. It’s especially hard trying to capture a decently sized audience, let alone keeping the game open and running all the time and addressing any bugs that come around. But when a world-renowned company releases a free online game to the public, that’s something you can’t pass up.

So in comes NCsoft’s free hack n’ slash online game Dungeon Runners. The game is exactly what the name implies; you’re a dungeon runner, so you run through dungeons collecting loot and doing quests. But wait, haven’t we seen this…hundreds of times before? So how exactly can a company bring something new to this genre, heck, even just re-create the fun experience? Well, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s where the charm comes in. Yes, the game is a straight up hack n’ slash game and you hack through hordes of monsters to collect loot, but the game doesn’t burden itself with zany fantasy back stories or outrageous quests. Instead, it faithfully parodies all these different clichés.

There’s not much I can say about the gameplay because it’s pretty standard. You travel from town to town, take quests, gain experience, level up, acquire progressively powerful weapons and armor, and slay monsters till your fingers cramp up. Other than that, that’s about it. But to me (and certainly other fans), waddling through a sea of dropped items is half the fun. There’s something about micromanaging your overflowing backpack that makes these types of games a blast. (Do you want to use some ring that increases your agility, or one that increases strength?)

The game comes with three character classes: Fighter, Ranger, and Mage. While they have their own distinct skills, NCsoft released a relatively recent patch that allows cross-skill training. In other words, you don’t have to stay in the predestined character class if you don’t want too. Become a hybrid, became some weird zany combination, it doesn’t matter. For all sakes and purposes, I stayed within the Ranger class.

Rangers are, naturally, the ranged class and use crossbows. In addition, they also use various poison attacks (damage over time attacks) and curses. Their skills fall into a few categories: Curses, Offensive, Passive, and Self-Buff. All these just need cash to purchase (and you’ll be getting a lot of money, too). Skills such as Acidic Blight (reduces enemy defense) and Fear Shot (self-explanatory) fall under Curses while Gaseous Blast (emits a poison cloud from your position) and Putrid Penetration (a knock back and poison damage attack) fall under Offensive.

It may seem simple, but like I said, part of the charm to the game is its slight parodies of other RPG clichés. Take for example, item names. I remember running through Diablo II and just chuckling at all the different item names. Like, how many different synonyms can you come up a piece of armor that increases your health ("of the Jackal", "of the Fox", "of the Tiger", "of the Mammoth", "of the Whale", etc…)? But for Dungeon Runners, they take the item naming craze to a whole new level. The names are absolutely ludicrous and that’s what makes this game hilarious. "Hey, I want that ‘Sliced hot cardboard Timber Axe from the reactor’!" or "I definitely need to equip the ‘Divine cardboard scrap Crossbow of the Ladybug’!". Instead of players comparing their items, they should just compare who has the more insanely named items.

Along with the hilariously named items are the character names. As you progress and level up, your character class name changes. Starting from a level 1 ranger, I was dubbed a Savvy Greenhorn Poison Ranger. But soon enough, hitting the double digit levels, you’ll become, for example, an Acrobatic Seasoned Poison Ranger. Other gameplay mechanics were given funny names, like weapon speed. Instead of the usual ‘extra fast’, ‘slow’ and ‘really slow’, you get ‘freakin’ fast’, ‘slothful’ and ‘grandma’.

Another slice of charm comes from the NPCs. Many of their standard quips are just parodies of the various classic RPG quests. Talking to one guy, he exclaimed half-heartedly about how his wife was kidnapped, but then says that dungeon runners must hear of that a hundred times a day and forget about it. I have to give props to the voice acting, too; for a free game, the voice acting is pretty good. Speaking to a few of the "older" NPCs gave me the classic Cain voice from Diablo II.

There are some missing gameplay mechanics that I hope get added in soon, like a better map (it doesn’t show NPC locations) and a better quest log (you have to stop to read quests, which is annoying when you have to run from place to place; you can’t see if your pal has the quest, either). Some things are still broken after the game’s release, like the friends’ list and some problems with line of sight.

All the quests take place in their own instance (like Guild Wars) and you can repeat quests as many times as you want. I highly suggest to at least play with another person, since it’s just more fun (also, you can compare items!).

Try to overlook the graphics (hey, it’s free after all) because Dungeon Runners is your standard hack n’ slash fanfare. If you want, you can pay $5 a month to get access to extra features like stackable potions, more and better equipment, a bank to store items and priority in the login queue (no queue at peak hours, though). Still, the core game is free and small to download so there’s no harm in trying the game out.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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