Delver Review (Steam Early Access)

     Delver.  A simple first-person, roguelike dungeon crawler that I've had in my Steam watch list for some time, and picked up during the big summer sale.  Because it's in the Early Access state, there is still a few kinks to work out, and in the time it sat in my watch list is has made major leaps forward.

     Take the role of an adventurer that tries their fate in the dark dungeons (and probably dies horribly). Fight monsters, grab loot, hoard potions, and level up!  
     Quest for the Yithidian orb at the darkest depths of the dungeon and attempt to bring it back to the surface - getting to it may be the easy part. 
     I'm actually glad I waited for this, the graphics got a huge bump up from their original blocky to a more original cartoony look.  When it comes to roguelikes, we have had been inundated with them lately, only a few are greatly notable such as Rogue LegacyWayward Souls, and Eldritch - and I think we can add Delver to that list.
     What appears to be merely another generic dungeon crawler is actually a very rich roguelike that has loads of danger and enemies to cut swathes through.  Really, this is almost exactly what I wanted out of the NES version of Might & Magic.

An earlier version of the game.
     Delver contains plenty of light RPG elements such as a small leveling system,  mini-map, and an inventory that due to the never leaving the dungeon with equipment format- requires you to just toss out anything you've used or don't need any more.  Simple art, decent play, and good controls. Having the map and inventory buttons be I and M keys is a poor decision with the WASD directional controls. They should be placed near those keys for quick and easy access.

     With the randomly generated dungeons, you can run into some tough problems- I had a run with 6 Beholders all in one small area in an early level with nothing for long range battle- but for the most part it remains interesting enough to keep you playing after each death.  The gold you gain carries into the next life (for use in the stores at the camp) because once you enter a dungeon, you stay until you die and lose everything else.  That isn't too bothersome though because you never really gain enough health through leveling up or weapons and armor that are too good, so it isn't as detrimental as it sounds.  The cost of death here isn't very high, which only becomes an issue after you beat the boss and start to make your way back to the top floor exit and get rushed by large mobs of freshly spawned enemies.

     For all that Delver offers, it seems to lack that something to reward any progression, because each death results in having to start over.  What really bothers me about this is that the potions change what each one does for each run, so you have to use at least one of each color right away to make sure you won't poison yourself when you desperately need to heal later.  It wouldn't be too awful, but you don't find many as it is.  On one of my earlier trips into the dungeon, I got a poison potion right away and died within minutes of entering, simply to see what kind it was.

All the essentials: a broadsword, potions, a scroll, an ice wand, and most importantly- cheese.
     Roaming the atmospheric levels is a remarkable experience.  The lighting and sound keep you invested in the game and the randomized nature keeps you wanting more.  Even with the small amount of issues the game has tons of replay value.  Each run through is about a half hour of fun and gives you another chance to find a little bit more of the story which is strewn throughout the levels in the form of notes that are occasionally in hidden areas.  While I'd like the game to contain more story, there is something very appealing about how players stumble across small bits of story that fills out the world in the game.

     With a few minor adjustments Delver could easily come to be one of the most addictive and fantastic roguelikes out there, but until then it's just hours of entertainment.  Even making the potions stay the same for all playthroughs would improve the game significantly.  I sincerely hope the developers really hone whatever makes this game so wonderful, it contains a special something that keeps bringing me back.

     With Update #5 comes an interesting fix: The Yithidian Orb is Orbier now.  What else could we want?

     In reality, Delver is still a lot of fun even if you aren't much for roguelike games and worth the price.

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