Does Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because IDK
fall in the same trap of other licensed video games, or does it manage to bring its cartoon charm to a new medium? Let's explore this review, because I don't know!
For those not familiar with the source material, Adventure Time
, created by Pendleton Ward, is an animated television series broadcast in America. The series revolves around the adventures of Finn, a human boy, and his adoptive brother Jake, who is his best friend and also a dog with magical powers. The setting for this duo's adventures is the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. Developer Wayforward Technologies
, who most recently released the HD remake DuckTales Remastered
, was tasked with bringing this licensed property to video game form.
Starting up the game for the first time you are met with an 8-bit homage to games from the past which does well to create a warm, fuzzy feeling and kick the game off right. For players who are not fans of the series, the game does a nice job of setting up the "story" for the adventure. Princess Bubblegum informs us that the prisoners she had been keeping in the dungeon below the castle have started to escape, and since she doesn't know why
(*wink wink, nudge nudge*) you are tasked with exploring each floor to find out.Explore the Dungeon, Because I Don't Know
is, if you haven't guessed, a dungeon crawler by nature. Your task at hand is a simple one, explore each floor of the dungeon finding loot and treasures. These floors will grow in size, making your task of finding the stairs to the next level slightly more difficult with each level. Enemies also increase in frequency and difficulty as you progress deeper into the dungeon.
Some players may find issue with the save system, as your progress is only recorded after you reach a checkpoint every five floors and after a "boss" encounter every ten floors. As you reach these breaks in exploration, you may return to the hub world to spend the treasures you have collected, as well as store any secondary weapons you would like to take with you on your next venture through the dungeon. You also have the ability to upgrade these secondary "sub-weapons" as you progress through the game.
Treasures can buy you extra equipment, upgrade your characters stats (thumps, rowdiness, focus, and imagination), and purchase items from one of the cartoon's minor characters, Choose Goose, at his item cart. You can also switch characters in the hub with Finn, Jake, Marceline, Cinnamon Bun, Ice King, Flame Princess, Lumpy Space Princess, and Lemongrab as options. These upgrade options, along with the ability to upgrade your sub-weapons, form the basis of the game's light character progression system.
The hub world is also where side-quests can be obtained (from Princess Bubblegum and other characters) and turned in. These side-quests will reward you with more treasures or items to aid in your quest, however they do not offer much more than that. These are your basic "go and collect X number of things" type of sub-quests, and offer no branching of the main story. Unfortunately, you are compelled to spend as much of your treasure as possible, because any unspent treasure will be forfeited to the Kingdom in the form of a "candy tax" before returning to the dungeon. While this mechanic probably sounded great during a meeting mapping out the game's features, in reality, it is more annoying than it should be.
Once you elect to return to the dungeon, you can equip the various tokens you have found while exploring. These tokens can give you special abilities and are lost once you return to the surface or are killed during exploration. Finn is able to equip three of these tokens, while the other characters are only allowed to equip two.
The combat system is relatively simple, "X" is bound to your basic attack and "Y" is bound to your special weapon attack. Various special weapons are found throughout the dungeon that vary from ranged weapons that require ammo, to other melee weapons that have larger arcs of attack or increased knock-back from your standard weapon. Once you gather enough "imagination" in your meter, you are able to unleash a special attack that will hit every enemy on screen by pressing "B". You can also find fairies throughout the dungeon that will instantly fill your imagination meter if you are able to collect them. Blocking and dodging are accomplished by pressing the right trigger, simply hold to block or hold and push any direction to dodge. Marceline can also absorb red projectiles while "blocking", doing so fills her imagination meter.
Collecting items is done with the "A" button, but make sure you are exactly on the item. While this may be an intentional design choice, the tight-window you need to be within to collect items can soon become a frustration to you or especially younger players. It seems this should have been a bit more forgiving than it is, and this becomes apparent on levels that require you to quickly move through them while collecting treasure or other item power-ups. While the combat system is simple, this also makes the combat very forgettable. In fact, you can often ignore the combat altogether and simply avoid enemies while collecting treasure and searching for the stairs to the next level. This becomes even easier using a character like Marceline who can hover over pits and water traps scattered around the dungeon.
You may also find yourself getting lost as you explore the levels, especially as they start to grow in size. It becomes very easy to overlook an arched doorway that leads to the next section of a floor, or completely overlook the exit itself. And with a limited mapping system, retreading large areas of the dungeon is a constant problem.
The game does feature up to four-player local co-op, that is if you have three friends, family members, or enemies you can convince to endure the game with you. Sadly, or fortunately, there is no way to bring your virtual Adventure Time
buddies into the game as no online modes are supported. Once you complete the game you are given the option of playing the story again in a New Game+ mode, or entering into a never-ending onslaught of levels in the "Nightosphere" mode.
There are several secret achievements in the game, all of which are tied to various story-related beats. You are also rewarded for upgrading each stat category for the first time, as well as for upgrading each character to their maximum level. Completing all of the side-quests from each NPC also grants you another group of achievements, as well as being rewarded for toughing it out through up to fifty levels of the Nightosphere mode. You will also be rewarded with achievements for collecting and picking-up various types of items along the way.
Overall, even the most die-hard Adventure Time
fans will be let down by this licensed game. While the game started off well and gave a modicum of hope, it was quickly apparent that it is nothing more than a collection of video game tropes with Adventure Time
costumes thrown on top. The story is very shallow and barely scratches the surface of the enormous amount of lore the cartoon series has built. The gameplay is basic, and doesn't do much to make you want to keep playing. Small annoyances quickly add up to make large annoyances, and you will soon be asking yourself why you are continuing to "explore the dungeon".
The reviewer spent ten hours exploring the dungeon, collecting treasure, paying candy tax, and still doesn't know why. Nine of the game's forty-six achievements were unlocked along the way. A review copy was supplied by the publisher.