QCF: Dungeonland

 do not enjoy amusement parks. I know that must sound crazy but hear me out. You wait in line for hours just for a few minutes of being tossed around in a metal box that can sometimes be a tight fit for people my size. The food is always overpriced, the crowds are unbearable, and by the end of the day you wish that you would’ve spent it doing something else. Oddly enough that’s the feeling you may have after playing a few hours of Dungeonland. Although some ideas seem fun and the concept is enticing on paper, it fails to keep that excitement going for very long.

Dungeonland is a cooperative hack and slash style game from Paradox Interactive where adventurers are lured into the Dungeon Master’s evil theme park to battle hordes of medieval mascots for the chance at winning riches beyond imagining. Choosing the role of Warrior, Mage or Rogue, friends can team up and coordinate their attacks to take down enemies that seem familiar but for legal and copyright reasons are not from other famous tourist destinations. "Friends" is the key word in that description; playing with friends is what this game is made for.  Attempting to play solo or with strangers online can prove to be an absolute waste of time. The game’s difficulty almost makes playing with a full group the only acceptable way to experience it. At first when I selected the game mode and saw that the first difficulty was set at hard, I thought that maybe it was a funny joke the developer was playing. Surely the game would not put the difficulty at that starting out. Turns out I was wrong, and the game truly does start with an incredibly steep difficulty. The bots are almost always useless and will be on the ground awaiting a revival more than they contribute to the fight. This is unfortunate, seeing as how the entire group shares lives throughout the battle and once all lives have been used it's Game Over. The only real way to survive is to have a group that will plan and coordinate in order to survive the overwhelming amount of monsters thrown out from all parts of the map.

Most of the time, however, more than just the difficulty and bots are working against you. The game will freeze often, even during an offline encounter, online matches lag constantly, the audio will pop in at weird and random places and before you know it once the game catches up to what's happening on the screen the players are dead.
During all my hours of gameplay I believe I may have completed only half of the games I'd started. The other half were either dropped or forced to close with other players online. During the moments of gameplay there were some entertaining fights and the battling was enjoyable in some instances. Collecting gold from encounters will unlock new roles for each adventurer, as well as weapons, perks and costumes that will improve them. The loot grinding can be a nice distraction for a moment, it’s just unfortunate that the game is normally working against the players, preventing the fun from lasting too long. The other mode I enjoyed in between adventures was the DM Mode. This mode has you orchestrating the battles as the other players travel through the park, using pre-selected cards to summon monsters, turrets and traps to punish the combatants. The inclusion of an evil laugh button was a nice touch, always ready to ridicule and mock the players as waves of elite monsters would dominate the area with no mercy. It's also a very easy way to rack up gold to upgrade each fighter in adventure mode. Perhaps if this separate mode lasted longer, the game may have been redeemed slightly.

Playing with other members of the site was frustrating at times, sometimes because of the things in the game, and other times by the game itself. The price point is reasonable but it just seems like the game in it’s current state is not a complete product. In all honesty there have been betas that play and perform better than this “finished” game. It's a shame; the game has good ideas and would be fun if it wasn't for the constant errors and problems always presenting themselves. With other options in the genre readily available, and more importantly playable, it's not recommended to pick this one up right now. Maybe after patches, updates, and a nice sale on a four pack it may be worth the time. And just like me at an amusement park, I leave this experience sad that I put so much time into Dungeonland, only to find that the fun was not worth the wait.  

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