Guild of Dungeoneering Review: Roguelike Raiders

Heroes are temporary, but dungeons last forever

Guild of Dungeoneering

Guild of Dungeoneering is an interesting beast. It's a mix of a few different influences, from roguelike adventures to tabletop card games. The end result is something fresh yet familiar, and full of replayability.

Rather than putting players in the shoes of a bumbling hero, Guild of Dungeoneering places them in the role of dungeon-builder and decision maker. Quest after quest, players will draw and place cards that build out a dungeon, place monsters, and reveal treasure. The adventurer you've picked for a mission will go about their business, motivated by the choices you've made -- and then, probably, die a horribly tragic death.

That's okay, though, because there are plenty of eager adventurers waiting to take their place.

Dungeon Master 101

At a glance, Guild of Dungeoneering might look like an indie successor to gaming classics like Dungeon Keeper -- but in execution, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than building a series of intricate traps to fell a hero, the goal here is to complete different quests in different dungeons that will reward you with fame and fortune. And those quests? They can only be completed by the heroes you've selected for the task.

The heroes themselves are unlocked by spending in-game currency to build out your own Guild Hall, with the addition of different rooms opening up new opportunities -- from fighters and mages to the equipment they can bring into battle.

And also, a graveyard. You're really going to need a graveyard.

To Battle!

That's because your adventurers love their jobs, and are eager to get into a scrap with just about any monster they come across. If you place your monsters just right, this can be of benefit to you and your little hero. Guild of Dungeoneering bolsters your heroes by leveling them up through their experiences, but you'll need to make sure they're having the right experiences.

Put your level 3 brawler up against a level 3 (or higher) enemy, and defeating them will bump you up to level 4. Put them up against something weaker, though, and all you'll have to show for it is a clearer path to your goal.

The combat itself is handled entirely through card-based play, with each hero bringing their own deck into the fray and adding new cards to it as they evolve and equip different gear. The gameplay driving these battles is incredibly simple, bordering on Rock, Paper, Scissors -- but you'll still have plenty of decisions to make if you want to come out on top.

Cards feature a few different icons representing physical attacks and defenses, magical attacks and defenses, and other perks like healing, or the ability to deal an unblockable attack. You'll always see what card your enemy is going to play against you, so it's not about guesswork so much as picking the best possible card from whatever's currently in your hand.

When you're successful and complete a dungeon quest, you'll earn a nice stack of coins to reinvest in your Guild Hall -- but you'll also lose all of the progress your hero has made. Every dungeon run starts at Level 1, so you'll never get too married to the idea of keeping any specific character around (which is good because again, graveyard).

Also, it's really funny

While everything up until now might be painting a picture of a high fantasy dungeon dive, Guild of Dungeoneering really doesn't take itself too seriously. The character classes you'll open up range from Mime to Mathemagician. The art style looks like it was literally torn from the pages of a high school notebook. Your actions are narrated by a bard who endlessly skewers the whole situation.

This is a game that will have you wearing a smile a mile wide.


At the end of the day, Guild of Dungeoneering might not be for everybody. Its mashing of genres is its greatest strength, but it also proves to be something of a double-edged sword. If the frequent failures and repetition of roguelikes turn you off, Guild of Dungeoneering will do nothing to change that. If you don't care for card-based battles or tabletop experiences, this won't be your cup of tea either.

Guild of Dungeoneering has carved a very specific niche for itself. So long as you find yourself within that niche, you'll find plenty of adventure to love here.

Guild of Dungeoneering is now available on the App Store. The game is also available on PC via Steam.