Tactical Role Playing Games are an odd little genre. They don't have the storytelling scope of a traditional RPG, but there's a greater emphasis on fighting, looting and pillaging. Dungeon Crawlers is one such game, but there also happens to be an unhealthy obsession with Ghostbusters. Confused? You will be.
How does it play?
Players assume command of a trio of fantasy stereotypes – a barbarian, a wizard and a healer. As mercenaries for hire, they make a living by hacking and slashing their way through goblin-infested dungeons, essentially a form of medieval pest control. Take a closer a look at these characters, however, and you might notice a startling similarity.
The barbarian is called "Payter", the wizard is called "Aegon", and the healer is called "Roy". Hmmmmmm. That's rather close to a gang of ghoul-hunting New Yorkers who haunted the cineplexes of our youth, don't you think? And before we forget, there's also a recurring slime character who keeps flinging gunge about.
Aside from the quirky window dressing, the game itself plays just like a tactical RPG should. That is to say, the combat is turn based, is finely balanced, and each character has their own set of strengths and weaknesses to take into account. The wizard, for example, is especially powerful, but he's also the most vulnerable to attack.
A niggling issue is the in-game camera. This is a 3D space with cel-shaded graphics, which do the job admirably, but the camera often needs manual adjustment so as to get a proper perspective on the action. An automatic solution would be greatly appreciated here.
Why do we like it?
We like the jokes, and not just the references to Ghostbusters. Other gaming conventions and cliches are playfully lampooned, most obviously the "your princess is in another castle" scenario. The design of the monsters are decent also, a suitably ugly bestiary to test your mettle against.
In addition, we can appreciate the ambition on display here. It wasn't so long ago that this type of game was limited to games consoles. Certainly, flat 2D variations have appeared on the iPhone and iPad in the past, but it's not often you see a tactical RPG on a touchscreen in glorious 3D. And an original property, to boot.
Hopefully the niggles with the game camera will be resolved in a future update. Despite that, Dungeon Crawlers is a great technical achievement, and also a clever experiment in transposing familiar characters from one medium to another. All together now; "Who ya gonna crawl?"
Dungeon Crawlers is available now on the App Store (£1.49)