Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By Dr. Anthony Betrus
FCE Contributing Writer 

Dungeon Crawling on the iPad: Butt Kicking for Goodness

The Game Connoisseur


Last updated 11/4/2016 at 5:30am | View PDF

Some games are designed for and play well on your phone, and some games really shine on a tablet´s larger screen. For the past few months I have tinkered with some of this year´s top rated iPad games, in a deliberate move away from the deluge of freemium time-sucking clones that I warned you about last May (Phoning it in). I wanted a game that was legitimately fun, and one that had not fallen into the shallowly addictive gameplay trap that many (most?) mobile games seem to have fallen into. My first stop was to browse this year's top-rated iOS games on MetaCritic. As I perused, Guild of Dungeoneering stuck out, especially in terms of art style, as it reminded me of the quirky online RPG Kingdom of Loathing that I grew fond of a few years ago. So I ponied up the $4.99, downloaded the game, and started playing. Dungeoneering was similarly clever and quirky, but with a twist: instead of playing the hero, you play the role of the Dungeon Master, placing rooms and treasures around the hero, coaxing him (or her) toward your objectives. Once a hero encounters a monster, you engage in combat via a simple deck-based card game. The game also has an end, which can be reached after a little under 10 hours of gameplay. This was refreshing, as the designer´s goal was not to keep you coming back to view ads or to pay for microtransactions, but to provide a fun and enjoyable (and finite) game experience.

Buoyed by this experience, I pushed my price point up a bit ($9.99) and went after a game that I knew to be fantastic on the PC (originally released in 1998), and that had been ported to iOS: Baldur´s Gate. At the time of purchase I was at the airport, and about to embark on a cross-country plane trip, and was ready to begin downloading. Unfortunately using the airport's wifi was a no-go (large downloads were blocked), so I needed to tether to my iPhone and download via the cell towers. Later, on the plane, on the runway, wIth seconds to spare, the download completed, and I was good to go (pro-tip, download via home or work wifi network ahead of time). Baldur´s Gate itself is an extremely in-depth game, based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition rules. For those of you not familiar with AD&D, not to worry, there is a simple tutorial that runs you through the game basics, it really is not that complicated. It has a rich story that involves slow and deliberate planning for turn based exploration and combat. The core-story is complimented by a wide variety of Non-Player-Character (NPC) and their associated side-quests. By far my favorite NPC is Minsc, a barbarian that carries around a hamster companion named Boo, whom he converses with and calls upon for inspiration during battle. In general, the writing and dialogue is top notch, so whatever path you take (good or evil), you will find it to be rich and rewarding. So fast forward just under five hours, and I finally looked up, having brought my band of travellers through a number of towns and dungeons on the Sword Coast, only to realize that we were landing. What I hoped for was a simple and pleasurable old school, in-depth RPG experience on my iPad with no countdown timers, no pay for play, and no internet connection required, and that is exactly what I got. Quest complete.

Dr. Anthony Betrus

The Game Connoisseur


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