Dungeon Hearts

dungeon-hearts-poster GoPlayThat

Dungeon Hearts, broken fingers. I suspect that Devolver Digital have a secret deal with mouse manufacturers, as after playing for half an hour I realised that the standard mouse that came with my PC wasn't sensitive enough for this insane mix of RPG, match 3 games and Guitar Hero.

New mouse installed, and the sensitivity driven all the way up, I had another crack at it. I got further, but not by much, and I finally had to admit that maybe the problem was either a) the game is fiendishly hard, b) human beings are not supposed to think this fast, or c) I am rubbish. I'm leaning towards d) all of the above.

The premise initially seems fairly simple. Four RPG-type heroes jump into combat against a variety of evil monsters in an attempt to vanquish the Big Bad. Instead of controlling your party, you must instead manipulate the Fatestream, and the chargers and strikers that appear on it, to chain attacks and destroy the horrible creatures that pop up.

The Fatestream is the aforementioned Guitar Hero looking interface. Four parallel horizontal bars scroll along the screen at ever increasing speeds. Contained within these bars are orbs of the four colours that correspond to each hero. Matching three of the same colour creates a striker - a gem that can be shattered to inflict damage on whatever fell beastie is currently marauding your party.

This, friends, is where it gets complicated. Each strike can dole out extra damage if there are more orbs of its colour on the same line or directly above and below. Damage can be further multiplied if more than one colour of striker is detonated at once, allowing your party to attack at the same time. One final thing to consider: The enemy's attacks also move along the Fatestream, and must be destroyed using a striker on the same line. These attacks are varied, and some cause more problems - for example, there are some that can only be destroyed by a striker of a certain colour, or some that take two strikers before they disappear.

Between fights your heroes can level up using a similar match 3 system, and they gain access to spells that include power attacks and time altering effects. A well used spell can change the flow of the battle, or get you out of trouble when things are going truly wrong. Although powerful, the spells take quite a while to recharge, so there's no chance of spamming your way to victory.

So, if your brain is capable of reorganising the Fatestream to create strikers, line them up for maximum damage and destroy incoming enemy attacks, you'll still need a fast mouse hand to actually pull it off. It's fair to say that the pace of the game is relentless, but this keeps it interesting, and makes sure you come back for more.

I think it's a testament to the quality of the gameplay that Dungeon Hearts has kept me occupied for far longer than I would have expected (I usually dislike match 3 type games), and I really think that this has a lot to do with the bruising difficulty. Getting past just one more enemy feels like an achievement, and when you manage to string together a brutal 4 hero combo and devastate an enemy it feels really rewarding. For less than the price of a sandwich it's definitely worth getting!

Dungeon Hearts is a pleasant 2.99€ on Steam, and 2.49€ on Humble. Go grab a copy (and maybe a new mouse!)