Retro indie titles are a dime a dozen nowadays, and Steam is the hub of almost all of them, releasing thousands of titles annually, many of which follow themes from past video game history. PC game developer – Joan Ginard Mateo from the one-man studio, Indie Brain – has created the next Zelda-esque title, leaving vague memories of nostalgic adventure and familiar gaming mechanics found throughout Scarlett’s Dungeon.
Waking up in a similar fashion to the original pixellated adventure title found in the NES cartridge library, Scarlett exits her house and ventures into the small village of Palette Town (yes, you read that correctly Pokémon fans). An all-powerful God has kidnapped a number of the town’s villagers, including Scarlett’s parents. Claiming that the ultimate being is waiting on the 15th floor, you’ll make your way through the procedurally generated dungeon levels, which ultimately ends abruptly and rather quickly.
Equipped with your sword, Dash ability, money bag and infinite escape ladder, you’ll head below to the dungeon area filled with monstrous robots that await ahead. A basic sword swipe and the helpful dash skill is all Scarlett needs to fend off the terror that awaits her beloved family. After receiving the necessary items from the kind townsfolk, you’re set to journey forth into the treacherous dungeons that lie below.
In Zelda-like style, the player proceeds to run around procedurally generated, maze-like dungeons, fighting off unique monsters while gathering valuable coin to help increase your weaponry. The gameplay – much like the storyline – is simple. Swift strikes from your sword, a very helpful dash ability to get you out of hairy situations and a levelling up system which essentially only adds to your strength and a dash of health upon gaining a new level.
Keeping your trusty Infinity Rope, you’re able to return to town while traversing any part of the dungeon, except of course, for the boss rooms. When in town and your coin bag is nice and full, you are able to purchase a new sword, ability or health items to help prepare yourself for the increasing dangers in the dungeons. This proves crucial as the game continues because every time you perish you restart from the beginning of whatever floor you died on; with the same amount of health you had when you originally entered the floor. This is especially dangerous when entering boss areas with extremely low health, since returning to town – or even previous floors for that matter – are not available when facing bosses.
Every fifth floor a boss appears – and by doing the simple math – the final boss is waiting on floor 15. There are only 2 bosses to fight through before the end… Keep in mind this title was created by one solo college student, working through the trials of developing their first title. Though short and quirky in its own right, the action of dash-dodging and sword-swinging against diverse enemies creates enough of a challenge to keep most gamers entertained, even if it’s only for a short session.
Scarlett’s Dungeon Review: The Bottom Line
There’s not much in store for story and gameplay in Scarlett’s Dungeon – and what is there bares major resemblances to our beloved Hylian hero. Still, there’s a certain quality of simple comfort for a game that lasts all of an hour (or more if you explore every dungeon to the last pixel). If you’re looking for a quick fix of old school Zelda-like action, pick up Scarlett’s Dungeon on PC. It’s out this September 2017.