Review: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

I haven’t done a video game review in a while, and this review is long overdue. It is a game anyone can play, because it is open-source and will work on practically any computer since it has almost no graphics to speak of and is only about 20 to 30 MB. But it also has one of the deepest gameplays of games you can get for free.

I first started playing this game back in June (when I was supposed to be studying for exams!) and stopped playing for a while but recently got back to it. It really is a game you can never see the end of, because there’s a surprise around any corner.

The goal of the game is to delve into the deep Dungeon and find the fabled Orb of Zot and return to the surface with it. To do this, you will first have to find at least 3 runes in different branches of the dungeon. But the devs advise you not to get too worried about this, as it is extremely difficult to do. To start off, they tell you to just try different things, and find different ways to play and die. In fact, a common phrase seen around the Crawl website and forums is ‘Losing is fun!’.

Now to the graphics. Probably the first thing you’ll realise is that everything in the dungeon is illustrated by ASCII characters. For example, you are represented by an @ sign, rats are r, ogres are an O, and food is %. This may seem like a really good reason not to try this game, but it is surprisingly easy to understand once you play for a while. Plus, if you really need graphics, there is a tiles version of the game available for download as well.

So enough talk, time to play! The latest version of the game, 0.11 (Wait, what‽ I’m still playing 0.10!) is ready for download at this link. Also on the website is helpful information about the game, and links to the forums and the servers where you can play, single-player, online, but where other users can watch you play.

What do you think of the game? Are there any other ASCII games you like? Tell us in the comments?