Years ago I was really into dungeon crawlers like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Nothing beats the satisfaction of exploring catacombs, slaughtering hordes of monsters and continually beefing up your character by donning the equipment you salvage from defeated foes. Sadly these days, thanks to working shifts and trying in vain to clear an ever growing unwatched anime backlog, I have insufficient time to invest in those types of games. Pocket RPG from Tasty Poison Games could however be the answer to my dungeon crawling predicament. It’s designed to satisfy loot hunting cravings via bite sized gaming sessions. Sounds good to me… unlike the flavour of sprouts. My how cruel life can be. Veggies are good for you, but taste gross whilst toxic substances like poison are apparently tasty.
The goal of Pocket RPG is to clear the game’s seven levels, which range from icy caverns to trap infested ruins. Budding adventurers have a trio of playable heroes to choose from. For my inaugural play through I opted to control the Blade Master, who I share an affinity with given that we are both lacking in the hair department. The Blade Master is a good pick for anyone who likes to dispense carnage up close, as he dual wields a range of axes and swords. The other two characters are the Dark Ranger and Battle Mage, who prefer to inflict damage from afar. The Ranger, despite lacking a quiver, is able to pelt opponents with an inexhaustible supply of arrows whilst the Battle Mage blasts enemies with spells. Out of the three heroes the Battle Mage is the most powerful, but unlike her compatriots she cannot attack indefinitely as she periodically needs to rest in order to replenish her mana reserves.
Gameplay wise, Pocket RPG feels like a casual version of Diablo. Were Pocket RPG differs is that upon clearing a dungeon your character’s levels are reset and they are also stripped off any equipment they have accrued (hopefully they get to keep their clothes because I’d rather not have to stare at the Dark Ranger’s junk.) Diablo’s philosophy is to consume your life by snaring you in a never-ending quest to upgrade your character. Pocket RPG instead wants players to start each game afresh so they can revisit completed areas with the aims of bettering their high scores. That’s not to say that the game is completely lacking in character progression though. Once you beat an end of level boss and vacate their domain you’ll be awarded skill points that can be invested in permanent boosts such as learning new special moves. In a similar fashion gold can be spent on bolstering the array of loot you’ll find in your upcoming ventures.
My rating for Pocket RPG is a three out of five. Whether you are charging headlong into danger as the Blade Master or nimbly counter attacking legions of monsters, as one of his companions, the combat is good fun. I can’t rate the game higher though as it feels a tad overpriced given the limited amount of content that is available. During my first run I managed to clear the campaign’s seven dungeons in exactly two and a half hours, which isn’t great value for money. If you are the type of player who won’t abandon a purchase until they beat a game with every character on offer the asking price does however become more palatable. Overall I would say that Pocket RPG lacks the polish and addictive qualities of something like Diablo, but it’s still worth a punt if time constraints prevent you from playing some of the meatier examples in the dungeon crawling genre.