• Tangledeep review by Rick Moscatello





    Restless Roguelike


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    Rogue, the very first game in the “roguelike” genre, set the standards for the genre for good reason. These types of games are all about ease of play, extreme depth, and, the key component of the genre: permanent death. Usually, the games allow for some sort of win condition (eg, “find the Amulet of Yendor at the bottom of the dungeon and bring it to the surface”), but not always—sometimes you just play until you die. Granted, even if there is a win condition, that’s still how you play for the most part.

    I’ve played my share of roguelikes, and Tangledeep is packed with new ideas. Many of them are fine ideas, although often the execution leaves much to be desired.

    The game begins with you first selecting a character class from more-or-less the usual standbys of warrior, rogue, and wizardly types. There are a few classes which are unlocked as you play the game. Once you pick a class, you then have to get some “job skills” special talents your character possesses, as well as a few other special feats.

    Overall, this is one of the tougher roguelikes to start playing, as right off the bat you have sift through skill possibilities and decide what’s the best to use. It’s not a critical thing, since you’ll be able to learn skills later. It probably would have been better just to give each starting character a few skills for free (and cut down initial points to buy skills), but the “you get nothing for free” is a theme in the game, for good or ill.

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    You start in a village, again with all the basic non-player characters you expect to see in the game—a couple of merchants, a banker, a minor quest-giver (there’s a major quest here, but the game could do a better job of telling you what it is, truth be told), and others. You don’t really start with enough money to buy anything, so it’s off to the dungeon.

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    To call the various levels “dungeons” is a bit of a disservice. Many areas are more like parks than your usual dark dungeon, with rivers, trees, pools of lava, all sorts of terrain that you don’t usually see in these games. The combat is the usual “bash or shoot it until it dies” for the genre, and the magic items follow the “ridiculously random” model set by Diablo...I won’t even try to list the kind of stuff you can find, but much like Diablo, it’s usually worthless.

    Anyway, eventually you’ll get hurt and realize the big difference between Tangledeep and most every other game like this: you can’t rest. Simply standing still accomplishes nothing, if you want to heal then you must drink a healing potion, consume food, or maybe get some random “power ups” that drop off monsters or otherwise appear in game.

    You can teleport back to town easily enough but…you still can’t heal. The healer can heal you once per level for a cheap 50gp, but his prices skyrocket after that. The food dealer only gets new inventory based on your progress in the game…but if you get stuck on a monster and you don’t have food, it’s basically game over. And even if you get past that monster, you still will be out of food, and will probably die soon anyway because you. Just. Can’t. Heal.

    It’s a stressful way to play, and the game becomes more about “don’t take damage, ever” than anything else, because you’re never really in a situation of “ok, I’m rested up and ready to play.” I found Tangledeep only works in small doses.

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    This quibble aside, there’s amazing depth here, with many classes and skill combinations worth trying. You can even capture a monster from the dungeon and tame it…but doing so requires precious, precious, food, and monsters hate most everything (except monster chow, which has a 50% chance of working, as near as I can tell). Considering how scarce food is, a better hint of what to use would be nice…I tossed a huge quantity of food down monster gullets before one would begrudgingly come with me into the dungeon (and it doesn’t heal for free either, of course).

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    You can also enchant your random items by entering into special “dream” dungeons. You can pay gold for bonus random enchantments, though it’s a hard sell: most enchantments are pretty worthless.

    There’s also an orchard of magical trees you can plant, giving another source of food, and a few other neat little things I’m sure I’m missing.

    While death is permanent in the game, your character has an impact on future generations. Planted trees in the orchard, for example, still grow, and will bear fruit for your future characters. There’s a banker who will store gold/items for the next character, but he’s tough to use: it costs money to deposit, and money to withdraw, so you can’t store low level items there (the time it takes to get the gold to pay the withdrawal fees you’ll likely find something as good on your own), or high level items there (because the fees for powerful items are so high it’s hardly worth it).

    Overall, Tangledeep is definitely a hard game, completely understandable for a roguelike. If you’re looking for a different take on the genre, this one will give you a challenge…just don’t expect to rest.


    Overall Rating 79
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Tangledeep review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post
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