Genre: Browser MMORPG
Release Date: March 26, 2012
Developer: Blue Mammoth Games
Publisher: Blue Mammoth Games
Platform: Flash-based internet browser MMO
Dungeon Blitz is a casual browser MMORPG that borrows elements from many different genres to create an interesting and engrossing experience. Developed by Blue Mammoth Games and free-to-play, the entire game takes place within the browser of your choice. Despite several shortcomings, Dungeon Blitz is an addictive, fun game with a lot of personality that eliminates the uncomfortable commitment that many other MMOs demand.
At its core, Dungeon Blitz is a side-scrolling beat-em-up with very simple and intuitive controls. Account creation takes seconds, as only an email account is required. Once completed, players are given the choice of how to vanquish evil in the kingdom of Ellyria; as a Paladin, a Rogue, or a Mage. After a brief and streamlined tutorial, they will set out and receive quests that send them into instanced dungeons and deeper into the world. Gameplay is not limited to dungeons, however. There are several sidequests to complete and areas to explore that hold rewards for the more adventurous and completionist players.
Although Dungeon Blitz is primarily marketed as a casual game, there are a good number of things that more ‘hardcore’ players can enjoy as well. Purchasing passive skills is a considerable money sink that prevents all but the most dedicated from having them all. Mounts that speed up movement in the world are even more expensive. Obtained gear is stored in a collection screen, providing players who entertain an obsessive streak a compulsion to collect them. Despite the wonderful item design, however, gear is very similar to each other and no one piece feels really unique or worth having over another.
Combat mechanics are very simple. Basic melee and ranged attacks recharge the players mana, a resource which is used to unleash powerful skills and abilities. Players also have to dodge frequent enemy attacks and deadly traps requiring attentiveness to the game as well as some tactical assessment before engaging foes. In this way, Dungeon Blitz attempts to strike a balance between RPG style character and gear improvement with the skill and finesse that comes from player input. On paper, this sounds like a great idea. But in reality, players benefit disproportionately more from random gear drops and experience grinding than skill and planning which is something of a disappointment. Attacks by enemies don’t always match their visual animations and they becomes nearly impossible to dodge. Players may have to begrudgingly spend time grinding to strengthen their characters, which detracts from the fun aspects of the game.
As for the combat difficulty itself, the game is not a mindless cakewalk. Once players leave the starting area, they may be surprised to learn that rushing into groups of enemies while mashing attacks lead to their own deaths more than their foes. Bosses summon weaker monsters to aid them quite liberally, making for some intense moments at the end of dungeons. Thankfully, the game offers no real penalty for dying. Fallen players regain their health in a matter of seconds and then can jump right back in when they hit the respawn button (although nearby enemies take this time to regenerate all their health as well). Dungeon Blitz has a lot of entertainment value for being a Free-to-Play MMO (and such a recent one at that).
Of course, every game has to find a way to make money, and this is where we see parallels to the casual game market. With real money, players can purchase tokens that can be used for to make cosmetic appearance changes, or save them time. This is very similar to the economic model that mobile and facebook games use. Cosmetics and convenience are the only things that can be purchased this way, which is reassuring to poor players like myself.
Sadly, as endearing as this game is, it is held back by one recurring flaw: Repetitiveness. To some extent, all MMO’s suffer from this. In terms of gameplay, pretty much every MMO has dungeons that players enter and reenter continually to progress their characters. Developers moderate this by having a large variety of such areas, making them as distinct as possible. In this way, the experience stays fresh for the players. Unfortunately, the dungeons in this game fail to capture that dynamic. Layouts are fairly linear, enemy packs await to be dispatched, and although they can be quite intense, boss fights follow the same “kill the boss before it overwhelms you with minions” design that every other boss fight utilizes.
The audio suffers from repetitiveness as well. Aside from the usual ambient fare, quick-paced battle theme music loops at annoyingly short intervals. When it’s paired with the steady stream of battle and monster sounds, muting the sound and playing your own music seems like a better idea with each passing second. Gear is also normalized such that different pieces of equipment vary only slightly within each area.
Despite these shortcomings, the developers are working hard to continually add new content and improve their game constantly. They have many features planned for the future and, if they properly address some concerns, I can see this being a strong entry both into the casual and the MMORPG markets. As a ‘hardcore’ gamer who typically plays highly-competitive and difficult games, I found Dungeon Blitz to be an enjoyable and refreshing change of pace. If you can handle some of the less savory parts, Dungeon Blitz may be the same for you.