I reviewed an early access version of Legend of Keepers last year and its fresh ideas and engaging gameplay made it a joy to play. Now with the full release and coming to switch, it seemed the perfect time to revisit this fresh and interesting take in the genre. Turns out it’s still a smashing game.
Legend of Keepers has a rather unique premise right off the bat; you don’t play the brave heroes, but the dungeon master bent on killing them. Yep, Goblinz Studio does the old switcheroo and puts you in control of a dungeon master. Hired by the dungeon company, you’re tasked with defending the company’s treasure and loot from those goody goody heroes trying to steal it.
That’s about as much plot as you’ll get from the game, but truthfully, it doesn’t need much more than that. The initial idea is already a fresh take on a frankly overcrowded genre, and it did more than enough to get me interested the first time I played and is still an interesting idea now.
For what it may lack in story content, the style, setting, and overall vibe of the game do a great job of making Legend of Keepers distinct. The pixel art boasts great colour and seriously impressive detail, especially with your characters and keeper, who are vibrant and visually unique. The same goes for the equally varied levels that are just as, if not more detailed than characters and looks just as good in handheld and TV mode. It makes for some awesome backdrops whilst you slaughter naive adventurer’s, which is all any dungeon keeper can ask for.
You’ll first go through a brief but detailed tutorial, which once finished sets you up with Slaveholder, one of the three keepers available in the game — with the other two being unlocked by playing. Afterwards, you’ll get a chance to familiarise yourself with each of these Keepers, who have their own strengths, styles and gameplay options that give a nice amount of variety between them. Additionally, you’ll get to see the overview map, which contains 5 chapters like segments for each Keeper that you’ll progress through as you play. This was admittedly a bit disappointing at first as I preferred the endless mode that was the game’s default during early access, letting me keep going for hours on end in a single run. Thankfully it was announced a dedicated mode will be coming very soon, so that’s a win as far as I’m concerned.
Legend of Keepers borrows elements from multiple genres like RPG’s, roguelikes, strategy, and blends them into a mixture of different gameplay that feels distinct and works together brilliantly. You can break this up into three main sections, so I’ll break it down piece by piece; Starting with planning. At the start of each mission, you’ll go through each room in your dungeon, placing your units and traps how you please to defeat the hero’s who enter your dungeon. It’s here you get the strategy elements, as you’ll want to place units in certain spots and orders to make sure you get the best out of them. Taking into account their resistances and weaknesses, attacks, abilities and usefulness to best kill or scare the living daylights out of the heroes. Next, you have the turn-based phase, which is pretty much what you expect. Heroes move through the dungeon encountering your traps and units, which is played out in turn-based combat.
Then we get to what I can only describe as the “middle management” phase. Between the killing and terrifying helpless adventurers, you still need to keep your dungeon in order and employees in line; here’s where the roguelite comes in. Random events will fill the time between each batch of helpless adventurers. These events can have both positive and negative effects on your dungeon career. You’ll have a chance to acquire new traps or units, train and upgrade current ones, spend your currencies, or a few more comedic options like sending monsters to seminars and business trips. None of these different phases overstays their welcome, each lasting for maybe 5-6 minutes before wrapping up and moving you along to the next one. It’s a simple element, but it goes a long way in keeping the game moving and engaging without anything becoming more of a chore. The very nature of the gameplay also lends well to the Nintendo Switch, as it can be enjoyed in longer sessions or quick bursts and still provide a good experience.
What I found most rewarding was the game’s progression and player choice. Almost every activity had some form of reward for the player, whether that was currency, new artefacts to buff your Keeper, or creatures to add to your arsenal. It always felt like I was getting something for my time playing as well as just the satisfaction of winning. On top of that, players are given a ton of opportunities to pick how they want to play. You can choose rewards for defeating adventurer’s, how you want to handle certain events, the style of dungeon you want to have, and so many more aspects of the game; I mean you can even create your own difficulty settings. It really gives a sense of freedom that I was grateful for, and being able to play differently each run and have so much control over that made the whole experience much more rewarding. Add on that the talent trees for the Keepers, promotions that grant special units, and a ton of other tidbits and you have a game that is both robust and gratifying that can be played for hours.
In a genre such as roguelite’s, it’s not easy to get players’ attention when there is so much competition. But with Legend of Keepers, Goblinz studio has managed to make a stellar game that stands out in an oversaturated market. It feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch and is a game I recommend to fans of the genre and anyone looking for something new in the space.
It’s unique, has good content, and you play as badass villains. Seriously, need I say more?