I’m going to get this out of the way right now: Dungeon Hunter is Gameloft’s version of Diablo for the iPhone. No need to insult anyone’s intelligence by dancing around it. Now, does that mean I enjoy playing it any less? It does not.
In fact, Gameloft was very wise in porting this game to the iPhone platform. As far as traditional-style games on Apple (s aapl) portables go, control issues can tend to muddy an otherwise well-developed user experience. Innovative platform-targeted titles like Rolando escape these nagging issues, but a straight-up hack-and-slash RPG is a different fish.
Graphics and Audio
The look and sound of this game are exactly what you would expect if you’ve played previous Gameloft offerings like Hero of Sparta or Assassin’s Creed. You view things from a third-person, three-quarters perspective, which is right in line with the Diablo games it so liberally borrows from.
Your character’s look changes depending upon what class you choose, and what items you have equipped. It doesn’t display quite the level of detail and variety that you get from Diablo 2, but it does do a fair job of keeping things interesting for those easily bored by their character’s avatar.
Monsters and NPCs on the other hand get recycled quite a bit, but let’s be honest, all we’re looking for here is a point-and-click experience fest, and for those purposes, the baddies serve well enough.
In terms of sound, Dungeon Hunter doesn’t offend, but the score also won’t be claiming any awards any time soon. If you tire of vaguely ominous orchestral music, however, there is the nice feature of a built-in music player complete with unfettered access to your iPhone’s music library in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, tucked away nicely where it doesn’t get in the way of anything.
Classes, Attributes and Skills
You can choose from three different classes in Dungeon Hunter. There’s the basic Warrior, the more lightly clad Rogue, and finally the Mage, who is obviously the chief magic user in the bunch. I like the simplicity of class choice, since you don’t get all muddled up trying to choose between shades of difference, like those that exist between a Warrior and a Barbarian. I chose a Warrior as my first character, as I always do, because magic is girly and lame.
Speaking of girly, ladies are out of luck with avatar choices, since there aren’t any heroes of the female persuasion to choose from. That might be story-driven, since you take on the role of the recently deceased king of the land, but I suspect it has more to do with making game design and coding easier.
Each class will assign your attribute points according to their strengths. You can later assign two points per level as you progress in the game towards the attribute of your choosing. I’ve been throwing mine around with abandon, and so far it hasn’t negatively affected gameplay.
Skills are class-specific, and include both active attacks and spells and passive buffs. There is not very much variety here, but each skill has a number of levels so you won’t soon run out of places to put the points you acquire when you level up. In addition to these, you get a Fairy spell that changes depending on which Fairy you currently have equipped. You find these creatures throughout the game.
In Dungeon Hunter, the controls shine, so long as you have click-where-you-want-to-go mode enabled, which is off by default. You can use the virtual stick if you want, as has been the standard for Gameloft’s other action-adventure titles, but tapping where you want to move just feels natural in a Diablo-esque title, and it works well on the iPhone. Spellcasting isn’t as smooth. You have to flick through your available skills to change which you want to use, so I just basically stick with one and put all my skill points into it.
As in Diablo, you travel from town to town and to various dungeons in between, following your central quest arc. You can also pick up a number of side quests along the way, many of which yield items, experience, or both. I wouldn’t call any of the side quests complex or overly detailed, but they also don’t feel tedious, so it works well.
Once you’ve cleared an area, you can either just quit to the map or fight your way back to the entrance to exit. You can also return any time you like to pick up items and defeat more enemies, which respawn. Helps with the occasional grinding that’s required to beat a boss.
I paid $7 for this game, and I would gladly do so again. It may only provide a fraction of the addictive, life-ruining enjoyment that I derive from the Diablo series, but it provides it anywhere, any time via my iPhone, and it does this all with sound design and a certain amount of style to boot.