Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager Review

Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager by developer and publisher Goblinz StudioMicrosoft Xbox Series X review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager as a roguelike with an interesting mix of additional elements. You have some RPG progression, some solid strategy baked into its gameplay and aspects of resource management that I enjoyed by and large, despite a handful of lesser flaws.

Things start just a bit rough, as there’s a lot of layers to the gameplay here, but most of them aren’t explained real well. I was tossed into a quick introductory battle that introduced me to the basics of the combat gameplay, and this part was pretty intuitive to me right out of the gates. The idea of having to either chip away at the health or the morale of the invading heroes as you hope to kill or scare them off before they reach the treasure room is simple enough. You quickly see their stats so you can get an idea how to try and fend them off, and I found this part appealing and logical enough that I was feeling pretty confident at the start.

Then Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager shifted into more of a simulation game and the overall structure was dropped into my lap. I was presented with a few weeks’ worth of decisions, most of them not really well-explained. You can choose a therapist but… why? What happens if you talk to these tax collectors? I went to the merchant first because the idea of buying more monsters made sense to me, but then I got in there and realized I didn’t understand most of the monster mechanics, so I was making some blind purchases.

It was a bit of a ‘deep end of the pool’ introduction, that thankfully didn’t kick my butt too hard. This is of course a roguelike title, which at its core expects you to die / lose, dust yourself off and then improve upon your prior attempt in incremental fashion. This part of the gameplay loop was familiar to me as a genre norm, and thankfully the more I played Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager, the more the game’s various layers became more evident to me. There was an element of trial and error here as I would sometimes pick the new, unfamiliar activity in my weekly preparation schedule just to see what it would do, and then mentally filed that information away for the next time I would inevitably see it.

Once I learned my way around the game’s framework, it became a matter of resource management. Kill heroes to collect blood. Scare them to gain tears. Earn gold to add to your stash. These three items were my core resources used to purchase new monsters and traps, or to upgrade said monsters and traps, or perhaps to increase the stats of my own character and more. Some decisions taxed my resources while others rewarded me with more. What seemed like a fairly complicated series of options early on actually boils down to something surprisingly simple later. It’s the catch-22 of making something accessible enough not to scare people off, but deep enough to remain interesting. While it was a bit confusing at the beginning for me, I actually found myself wishing for a bit more intricacy in these systems after I learned my way around them.

All of these preparations then led me to the turn-based combat sessions. Here I had a series of rooms, each one presenting a different type of obstacle to thwart the do-gooding heroes who were venturing in to steal my treasure. It is worth noting that I really enjoy these types of games where I get to play the diabolical evil warlord (Overlord, Dungeons, etc), and the theme here amused me as well.

From here I would set up traps, groups of monsters, use spells and more to try and knock out the heroes before they would make it to the final room and face off against my own character who was all that stood between them and plundering my treasure.

There’s a lot of different gameplay elements baked into Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager, and most of them are done pretty well. Once I knew what I was doing, I enjoyed the game quite a bit. I never really came away feeling like they nailed any one particular aspect of the gameplay. The randomness of the game does hinder the strategy components a bit, both in weekly planning and in combat. You never quite know what you’ll get out of your three heroes in a given week, and that can make having a select pool of traps or monsters somewhat frustrating as you might not have the ones best suited to the job. Also, sometimes there is just no right answer as you might get three characters that have no theme or rhyme and reason to them. One might have great ice resistance but terrible nature resistance, but the second one an ace with nature resistance but terrible armor while the third one is an armored tank that is really vulnerable to the ice that the others are resistant to. These encounters are a bit annoying since there seems to be no right answer.

Along the same line of thought, the weekly tasks / options seem pretty random. Maybe you get two options that impact morale of your creatures at a time when… all of their morale is really high. Another time you might have two options where all you can do is make purchases but maybe don’t really have the resources to make any from either, so there’s little value in the choice. This is more the exception than the rule in both instances. There’s usually a ‘best’ option in both the weekly tasks and in combat, but it does shine a light on some of the game’s limitations.

Quality of life deserves a bit of a callout as well, but not in a good way. While I like the overall art style and the music matches, there’s other aspects of the presentation that suffer a bit in this port. The text is small and even on my rather large television screen, there was a bit of squinting taking place. The controller support is there, but it’s a bit finicky sometimes when trying to select enemy units or your own to look at resistances. In fairness, this is more of an issue during the combat scenes than the rather binary week-by-week tasks.

Overall, I really like Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager, but what starts as a game that looks to be really deep is a bit shallower than I initially thought it would be. It’s fun to don the role of hero-slaying villain with a bit of cheesy, tongue-in-cheek dialogue and story to back it up. However, the longer I played, I continued to have fun with it, but that fun diminished as some of the rough edges began to shine through in the rough UI and heavy reliance on randomness.

Score: 7 / 10



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