Normally rogue-lite games become very boring, very quickly for me. I often find that I’ve seen most of the game in the first hour of playing, and so have little drive to keep playing the same areas, or enemies over and over again. Whilst the same can be said for this Early Access title, Legend of Keepers still managed to hold my attention longer than most.
Developer Goblinz Studio has taken a different approach when it comes to dungeon management and rogue-lite games with Legend of Keepers, starting with a simple enough question.
What if you play the dungeon master and not the hero?
Legend of Keepers has you control a dungeon master hired by the dungeon company. Your mission? Guard the company’s treasure against heroes and adventurers. It has layers of depth for you to uncover with each passing battle and activities for you to do from unique units, spells, traps, and encounters through and a whole array of other aspects to manage. All while also not becoming oversaturated.
With that said, let’s take things one at a time. Firstly there are currently two dungeon masters to choose with a third releasing in the future, each having a different set of stats and skill trees which determine the kinds of dungeons they are best suited for. These dungeon masters will level up after each playthrough is finished, with their skill trees and abilities expanding and allowing you to mould them into a more personalized master. You might do that through using brute force to outright kill all heroes or carefully calculated magic to crush their morale until they run away in fear — Maybe a mix of the two. But what’s a dungeon master without a dungeon?
At the beginning of each encounter, you enter in a preparation phase. During this time you’ll go through each randomly assigned room and organise your arsenal with the hopes of drawing out the best of their destructive capabilities. Deciding the placement of traps and units as well as which spell to use can shift the odds in your favour just as much as it can bring your career to a grinding halt.
As far as progression is concerned, Legend of Keepers has got more than enough to keep things interesting and rewarding. When you’re not fending off pesky adventurers or earning one of the three currencies the game has to offer you’ll be spending time upgrading, acquiring, and managing your employees, with each monster having their own benefits and downsides. You’ll do this as each week progresses, with a randomized selection of activities being available each week for you to choose, such as training to level up units, plundering a town for loot, or letting a random event unfold onto you, for better or worse. In addition, you’ll earn special units and promotions the longer you last in a single playthrough, giving you the chance to unlock mini-bosses that can turn the odds in your favour and artefacts that affect different aspects of gameplay, like merchant prices or spell effectiveness. Not to mention the great pixel art gives detail to all the enemies and environments designs you’ll see.
But this isn’t just for show.
As the difficulty of heroes and their abilities begin to ramp up, making these upgrades and managing your placements becomes more and more essential. You’ll have to balance elemental resistances and weaknesses, the positions and motivation of your monsters, how you use your attacks as well as a whole host of other aspects, but it somehow doesn’t feel overwhelming or too messy, partially thanks to UI that’s detailed, albeit a bit clunky, filled with all the necessary information to plan effectively.
Learning the ins and outs of each mechanic came more naturally than I anticipated, making it easier for me to adapt and adjust as I progressed without feeling like an onslaught of numbers and information. On top of that, the difficulty is completely customizable. From enemy strength to the amount of gold you earn. All of this can be tailored to give you the exact amount of challenge you want, making for huge accessibility and replayability if you can deal with the repetitive nature that comes with a game in this genre.For anyone looking for something a bit different within the rogue-lite genre, Legend of Keepers is a great choice. While it still suffers from some of the trappings of rogue-lite games with its repetition, it still provided me with plenty of enjoyment during my roughly six to seven hours of playtime. The great sense of progress and customization in difficulty makes it easy for anyone to play at their own skill level, whilst also giving a satisfying sense of accomplishment. Coupled with its variety of units, activities and gameplay options, Legend of Keepers will keep you coming back for more, and with new content to be released I’ve no doubt it’s going to get bigger and better.
Now the next load of heroes are on their way, so I better get back to work.
Legend of Keepers is currently in Early Access on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux. Check out the developer’s Website or Twitter for more details.