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Dungeon Hearts (PC)

May 25, 2013

BoxShotDungeon Hearts

What’s Good:
-Interesting spin on the match 3 puzzle format
-Clean and appealing art style
-Super cheap price-point

What’s Bad:
-Controls horribly with a mouse, causing the moment to moment gameplay to be more of a trial of frustration than a quick shot of enjoyment
-Player upgrade system feels far too grindy


If I were to give it a rating: 2 out of 5

Other thoughts:
In concept, Dungeon Hearts should be awesome. It does enough differently from your typical match 3 puzzler to be interesting, but it’s the execution of its concepts which holds it back from achieving its potential.
In Dungeon Hearts, four lines of randomly distributed shapes travel across the bottom of the screen. Colors correspond to each of your four party members (fighter, mage, healer, archer), and each time you drag three of one of these colors together, it creates a colored gem. When that gem is activated, it sets off a chain reaction with any existing gems on the same column or row. Any enemy attack tiles caught in the blast are nullified, and your enemy takes a chunk of damage.
If you’re able to defeat your enemy, you’ll move on, leveling your heroes and facing more difficult opponents.
It’s a fun (and potentially addictive) idea for a puzzle game, but the problem with Dungeon Hearts, or more specifically, this version of Dungeon Hearts, is that it’s blatantly obvious that this is a game designed for touch devices; and this is derived from not only the manner which you’re expected to shuffle through a jumbled board to make your matches, but also the way some of your heroes’ special attack tool tips say “touch” or “swipe”.

A port is a port though, right? It doesn’t matter where a game came from or what its original intention was if it still plays perfectly fine on whatever platform it ended up, but this is a game that simply was not meant to be played using a mouse cursor. The act of having to click and drag the colored shapes to match them, and then clicking the produced gem to actually send out an attack just can’t be performed as elegantly and as fluidly as necessary to contend with the game’s relentless difficulty. Even on the easiest setting, you’d have to be some sort of savant to be able to make it through without frustration.
High difficulty only works if the game is still fun to play despite it.
To help out a little bit, in between runs you can spend (very) slowly accrued XP to permanently upgrade your heroes in specific ways, such as more damage or health points, but with how much time you need to spend to gather this XP, the buffs that are available to unlock don’t seem worth the investment. It feels like a micro-transaction based system without the micro-transactions part.

It’s tough. It’s very tough. I honest-to-goodness want to like Dungeon Hearts, what with its charming art style and its conceptually sound mechanics, but those mechanics don’t play well with entirely mouse-driven controls; and no matter how much charm your game has, if it isn’t fun to play, why am I wasting my time with it?

There’s a perfectly functional game in Dungeon Hearts, but one that I can’t help but feel like I didn’t play on its intended platform.

From → Games

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