by Jason Van Horn
In Dungeon Empires, players start by naming and picking their character, which amounts mostly to picking whether they're going to be a warrior type character or a magic wielding mage. The general gist is that the game is evenly split between the two actions of dungeon crawling and dungeon crafting. The world of Dungeon Empires is separated into several layers, each one more difficult than the last, so characters up to level 15 are expected to quest and crawl through the first level, players within a certain range are safe to start exploring the next, and so on. The game does have dungeons created by the developers, but the real meat of the game is choosing to adventure through dungeon masters just like yourself in order to take their dungeon down.
Once you've gained enough experience points your character will automatically level-up in a few categories - such as how much health they have - but you'll then have two attribute points you can use to put towards your character's strength, dexterity, and magic. Each character only starts with a basic attack and a special attack which consumes mana, but eventually you'll be able to learn new skills upon reaching level ten, and you can further enhance your character by equipping them with the best armor you can buy or earn through drops in your own dungeon.
Dungeon crawling is easy too thanks to several of the game's features. As you explore the dungeon a mini-map in the top right corner will start to reveal itself and show you everywhere you've been and what doors are still available to you that you haven't gone through yet. The mini-map is especially helpful when you find yourself moving farther and farther away from the exit as you're trying to find that last monster to kill. Instead of having to manually walk, however, players can click on any location within the map and if it's far enough away your character will break into a sprint and quickly make their way to your marker like the Flash as the rooms and corridors speed past them in a blur.
Building dungeons is slightly complicated at first, but it's a lot easier to use than some other systems out there. Players are basically given a map and they're free to do with it as they wish, but they're limited based on items they've found and how much gold they have at their disposal. The only real rule is that each room must somehow make a connection to some other room on the map, so you can't have an empty room set to the side and no way to reach it. You'll find different room layouts from looting chests, as some are larger than others, some only allow for small monsters, some only have one door, others have multiple places for fixtures, etc. The challenge comes in properly utilizing everything you have so that your dungeon is as deadly as possible.
The main way to spice up your dungeon is by adding monsters. Each room has size restrictions, so if a room only allows the placement of small creatures you can't put something like a golem or dragon into that slot. Players can further enhance the monsters of a certain room by adding fixtures, which are tied into different groups of monsters, so some creeping ivy might help improve the effectiveness of any ant-based creatures placed in there while a shrunken head would improve how a mummy performs. Players can also change a room's style and add magical shards to give a room special effects such as an increase to fire damage sustained to the player. The creatures won't blindly follow you, however, as they expect compensation for the work they do for you. The dungeon as a whole is represented as a satisfaction level, which slowly declines over time. As you let this meter drop further and further, you'll find that your monsters will start hording your earned gold for themselves and not giving you all the profit they've earned by killing people. In order to raise this meter up and keep your monsters happy, you'll have to take the time to pay the monsters with gold from your own pocket so they can keep turning around a profit for you.
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