VR has no shortage of dungeon crawlers to slash through, but Ancient Dungeon definitely warrants a look.
Solo-developed by Eric Thullen, you can try out this procedurally-generated title for free over on Itch.io. The best way to describe Ancient Dungeon is essentially Rogue Legacy or Dead Cells, just for VR. Every time you boot up the game you can tackle a run of dungeons, each generated at random, building your character up with better equipment as you go. Fall victim to one of the many traps or monsters and you’ll have to start over, though you can use some of the spoils from previous runs to give you a heads up. Check out some gameplay below.
All of that sounds pretty standard so far, right? But what impressed me most about Ancient Dungeon was just how solid its physics-driven gameplay is. You have two weapons, one being a standard sword that takes a welcome amount of heft to swing and a sleek set of throwing knives you can summon back to your hand wherever they are in the world by holding the trigger. Crucially, enemies run the gamut of zombies, slimes (a nice nod to Dragon Quest) and other mythical creatures; only a few carry blades and, even then, Ancient Dungeon isn’t about complicated, intricate mechanics. You’re free to simply swing, and enemies will react accordingly. Knocking enemies back is an important part of the strategy; a mighty uppercut will send a slime flying towards the ceiling, whereas besting a zombie over a bridge will cause them to topple down into the abyss below.
We’re not talking Boneworks levels of simulation, but it’s enough to make Ancient Dungeon’s dungeon exploring a bit of a breath of fresh air compared to other recent entries in the genre. Plus swords, knives and your own abilities will upgrade as you go with unique attributes. You could make bigger, more deadly throwing knives that set foes on fire, for example, or find a lightning sword that shoots jolts to nearby baddies.
Plus there are some wonderful touches to the surrounding world. Thick, leafy vines can be slashed away for a better view, and Ancient Dungeon is very fond of the ‘item chest that’s not really an item chest’ trick. This feels fully fleshed out and properly considered, which isn’t something you can often say about VR gaming at the moment.
Thullen is currently running a small Kickstarter campaign to get the rest of the game made, seeking €4,000 (about $4,315), of which nearly half has been raised at the time of writing. If the game gets funded he hopes to have it out in July of this year, and a $20 pledge will get you a digital copy of the game for Steam.