StorylineAs far as story goes, it fundamentally doesn't venture too far beyond your typical storyline, although in fairness, doesn't have too much of a storyline at all. Beneath the village church is an enormous dungeon network leading further and further down to hell. Your job is to clear through the three main sections of the dungeons, make your way to hell, and kill the Archdemon as he plays with his rubber duck. As you progress through the first little bit of the tutorial, you'll unlock each of the main NPCs that will help you out by offering you their services. Aside from that we don't get much. Occasionally, the playable character will make quips about the section bosses when you get to them, but that's it.
GameplayThe main title menu is rather ominous and features a dozen or so pedestals, only one of which begins the game proper. One has to wonder if more features are to come and take their places on these empty pedestals. Each game begins with choosing one of three heroes—the iconic warrior, rogue, or mage. The latter two are only unlocked after reaching level 5 with the warrior, which serves as a useful way to squirrel the player into the tutorials for the first few levels of the game. Because of the game's level construction, all of the characters are technically ranged; however, the mage's fireball, for example, is an actual projectile. You start off with two card slots, which can be unlocked to fill the entire lower line of the screen, and you'll be provided with some simple skills and a health potion to take up these slots. Each character has a surprisingly large library of cards they can discover throughout the game, not to mention that each card can have a magical rarity which will provide the card with a bonus; for example, a magical-grade teleport skill card might heal HP when used.
This aspect of the game goes even further since the card system is the primary form of progression. Once you've found and identified cards with the sage, you can upgrade them with rune cards. Each upgrade will require a concoction of the game's dozen or so rune cards as well as some gold, and increases the card's effectiveness and stats up to three times. A lot of the time, higher-level cards require a higher level character, so you'll find yourself prevented from "twinking" early on until you've cleared some more of the main dungeon. Because items like armor and health potions are represented as cards, they can also be upgraded, increasing their effectiveness as well as their charges. Potions work the same as in Path of Exile and have a specific number of charges in them which can either be restored by picking up potion charge items in dungeons or spending gold at the card upgrade lady.
Other NPCs include the Sage, who is a Knockoff Nigel of the dearly departed Deckard Cain. He identifies cards for you and increases your card bar slots for an enormous sum of gold. He also serves as the game's bestiary and gives you tips and tricks for dealing with certain monsters if you're struggling. Once you've spotted or killed a new monster, it'll show up in the Sage's dialogue menu. There's also the innkeeper who serves the game's second unique function by way of a magical cauldron. Whenever you discover unknown items or treasure, or even level up in a dungeon and spend a skillpoint on, for example, HP, the opposite skillpoint will get dumped into the cauldron along with random items. Give the dear lady an enormous tip and you'll get your extra skill point and all those shiny items. Each time you use the cauldron, the cost of emptying it goes up, so sometimes, it's best to leave it for a while if you can afford to.
The game's only two level-up stats are HP and MP, one serving as health and the other as a pool to dip into to cast spell cards and equip item cards, sealing away a certain amount of your MP pool. It's simple but works exceedingly well. Once you've finished faffing with all of these systems, you dive into the church dungeon and begin to configure your adventure. The game's primary unique feature is the dungeon crawling duration selection. You can either make a short dive for ten minutes or select a much longer hour-long experience; it all depends on how much time you have to spare. Once you select a duration, the game will generate a few levels of varying size for you to crawl through before the quest ends and you get the rewards. The length you choose will determine how far down in the game's overall completion level you get, with 100% obviously being the final level where the Archdemon lies. Before the big boss are three smaller bosses at the end of each section, closely resembling favorites from other RPGs. Each of these three sections has a small overlap with the other two in monster types, but is largely with its own visual style and monster types.
Levels are randomly generated and usually show outlines of what kind of monsters to expect. The maps themselves put your character on rails, sort of like a Scalelextric track for you to follow. The levels have no shortage of urns to smash and chests to open, as well as a set amount of monsters to kill and items to pick up. To progress to the next level down, you need to kill all monsters in the level, but its advantageous to also collect every item and interact with the numerous shrines strewn about. Some will provide items or gold, as well as cards and scrolls to return to town. Once you've cleared a level entirely, or nearly cleared it, a small number will appear at the top, either revealing the number of things left to pick up or turning into a green check mark to show 100% completion. Once done, you can go down to the next level of your dungeon by clicking on the stairs anywhere on the map.
Enemies abound in an utterly enormous variety and are really one of the game's best features. To be blunt, there are far too many to number, but they're all utterly unique and incredibly interesting. The sheer level of interacting with enemies goes beyond just hitting them with big skills. Some enemies have armor which needs to be chipped away by clicking at it, some have spells which can be dispelled by clicking off the buff above their head, some can charge and stun you, activating a little mini game to collect all the stars. They can even knock your card belt so you have to adjust your spell and item cards to make them work again. Mini bosses go one step further by adding two or three phases where you have to deal with certain enemies or tasks before you can damage the boss, and the variety is so great, you rarely feel like you're dealing with the same thing over and over again. It adds a heap of complexity and depth to what would otherwise be a very casual and boring game and really makes the game transform.
No amount of describing it can really do the game justice, so I'd strongly recommend taking a look at a ten minute snippet of gameplay to see just how varied and interesting the gameplay and design gets.