The eighties first-person dungeon crawler is back — this time in form of a neat little hand-drawn game. Developed and published by DarkDes, Paper & Ink Dungeon delivers dungeon crawling with a unique graphical style.
To be fair, the first-person dungeon crawler was never truly gone. It primarily transitioned into the actual third dimension, even if titles such as the Legend of Grimrock games deliberately include limitations to hark back to the days of endless identical-looking walls.
Paper & Ink Dungeon is a bit friendlier in this regard. You movement is locked to tiles, but the game uses a 3D engine, so that movement is somewhat fluent and turning is less jarring — you can actually move your character without immediately losing orientation.
Speaking of which: Paper & Ink Dungeon offers three classes — fighter, wizard and… zhulien — based on its three character attributes — strength, intelligence and dexterity. You can pick whether you want to be male or female, but that is about it for character customisation.
Once you have your choice, Paper & Ink Dungeon unceremoniously drops you into its world. You start in a village right next to the dungeon. The village has no shops or inns, but some spider-infested houses as well as an adjacent forest with plenty of edible mushrooms. Nobody but the blacksmith seems to be around, so you are free to loot all the houses. Equipped with some random items, it is time to enter the dungeon, which houses monsters that get progressively more powerful as you delve deeper into it.
The loot from all the chests you stumble across is randomised. You could find a vampire sword, a frost axe, maybe a diadem that raises your intelligence or possibly a Longbow of the Rogue. Your inventory space is fairly limited — a battleaxe takes about half of it — but you probably do not need most of the loot anyway.
Instead, extra loot can be used as consumables — literally. Munching on Daggers of the Wizard or Gloves of the Fool is your principal method of restoring hit points. This is Paper & Ink Dungeon’s gameplay cycle: kill monsters, take loot, eat loot to restore hit points. Occasionally, you gain a new level for slaying enough foes.
This is pretty much all that Paper & Ink Dungeon has to offer. Most of its loot is unfortunately not that interesting and after a hour of dungeon delving, you have probably seen everything the game has to offer. However, for the price of free, Paper & Ink Dungeons gives you an aesthetically interesting nostalgia trip.
Paper & Ink Dungeon is available for PC via Itch.io.