No Budget Gaming: Medieval Madness

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Do you find your coin pouch short on shillings? Does Steam’s Five Dollar Section beckon with a siren’s song? Fear not, No Budget Gaming is here to show you the masterpieces amidst the white noise. Today I’ll be looking at three medieval themed games – fantasy item shop simulation, Shoppe Keep,  online party game, Town of Salem, and roguelike dungeon crawler, Dungeons of Dredmor, to answer one simple question–are these games worth five dollars?

Photo Credit: Excalibur/ Steam

In Shoppe Keep, you play as a shopkeeper in a store for fantasy adventurers. Within a first person view you must manage inventory, keep the shop clean, and protect it from bandits and barbarians.  While it’s definitely a unique (though not original) idea, Shoppe Keep is still in early access and it shows. My biggest issue with the game was that its structure does not sync with the gameplay style Shoppe Keep was going for.  A fast paced management/multitasking game requires that you be able to notice a lot of information at once and quickly. With flat visuals that make it hard to distinguish important details, a first person view that limits what you can see, and a clunky interface, I found myself frustrated where I should’ve been challenged.

My second issue was that the game got boring quickly–progression was slow, upgrades infrequent, goals unclear, and other than needing to pay attention to what customers said, very few twists or surprises were thrown my way–at least in the early levels. While the final version of the game may improve these issues, in its current state, this author would not pay five dollars for Shoppe Keep. It’s just not polished enough yet.

Photo Credit: BlankMediaGames/ Steam 

Town of Salem is an online version of the popular party game Mafia/Werewolf. Players are assigned the roles of townsfolk or Mafia members, with each side trying to kill the other off. Town of Salem’s interface is able to replicate the feel of Mafia well: all the different phases of the game function smoothly, the chat can handle 10+ people, and the game even throws in some cutesy, yet morbid death animations. In terms of emulating a fun, well known real-life game,  Town of Salem does its job well.  

The biggest issue I had with Town of Salem was the lack of an in-depth tutorial and the fact that a huge amount of the game’s challenge comes from whether you and a team of strangers at different skill levels can work together. This isn’t a flaw so much as a matter of personal preference. I tend to prefer games that have a stronger introductions and less chaos for new players like Hearthstone, but since there are plenty of players who enjoy being thrown into the lion’s den, and the game plays fine, I’m not going to hold this against Town of Salem. It is well worth your jar of 500 pennies.

Photo Credit: Gaslamp Games

Dungeons of Dredmor is a fairly straightforward game–you pick a name, a set of 7 skills (like Swordplay or Vampirism), and then get thrown into a merciless Roguelike RPG dungeon that plays akin to the Legend of Zelda or Mystery Dungeon series. Dungeons of Dredmor may be far from original, but its style and execution are excellent. The game lets you tailor the experience to your liking–want a true hard mode roguelike, permadeath experience? You can have that. Want a faster, simpler dungeon crawl with no permadeath? You can have that. Picking up the game is a breeze, dungeons have some great twists and turns, and the interface makes jumping between different menus a cinch.

On top of this, there was a ton of replay value. There are a number of unique (and funny) skills to choose from and each combination makes your run a unique experience. Even amidst all the hardcore elements, the game has a fun, lighthearted sense of humor. I loved reading the propaganda posters I’d find in the dungeon, or seeing the little asides enemies would make. The only strike I could hold against the game is that, per being a rogue-like RPG, the status screen got a little cluttered. That said, the game gave clear, in-depth descriptions of what each stat did so I couldn’t complain too much. Overall, if you’re looking for a great dungeon crawl that will show you a good time as often as a game over screen, pick up Dungeons of Dredmor for five easy payments of a dollar (all due at the same time).

That’s all for this week. Do you have a request for what genre or category of games I should look at next week? Leave it in the comments below. Until next time.

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