Title: Delver
Platform: Steam, Windows, Linux, OSX

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Roguelite
Players: Single player

Written by Bad Demoman 10th January 2015

Delver is a game I've been watching for a fair while now. It started development around about 2012, partially inspired by a Ludum Dare game made by Notch called Prelude of the Chambered, and also by Ultima Underworld and various Roguelikes. What results is a first-person Roguelite.
It's come a very long way since then – hell, it looks like an entirely different game! And it's still in development to this day. I'm usually fairly wary of getting a game before its fully released – I often find that I'll be bored of the game by the time it's finished, which sucks. I feel like I never got the full experience. But I felt like now was the right time for me to finally give Delver a shot, and the devs were kind enough to send over a code.

The first thing a lot of people will notice about Delver is the distinctive style and graphics. In an industry where voxel games and pixel art are commonplace, Delver really sets itself apart from the others. The dungeon is dark and moody, which makes the exceptionally pretty lighting effects even more appreciable. While the enemy types are far from inspired (Your average skeleton, zombie, mages etc.) they still feel quite unique due to the beautiful pixel art that they are comprised of.  Even if you (somehow) find yourself tiring of the pleasing pixel aesthetics, Delver is heavily modifiable in terms of graphics. Various texture packs are available, with everything from NES-style to a more realistic approach available. Personally though, I can't bring myself to rid the game of its charming art style. It just seems to fit the game so well, made even more impressive by how ridiculously far Delver has come in terms of graphics.

Gameplay revolves around fighting off the denizens of the various subterranean areas you will explore. There’s 3 kinds of weapons available – Melee weapons, Bows and Wands. Melee and Bows are fairly self-explanatory, but Wands run on a system similar to what I've seen in some Roguelikes – they have a certain amount of charges, and the amount of charges in a rod can be increased by having a higher Magic stat. You can't really say at the start of a run “This time I'm going to do a mage playthrough!” however, as what you find in your adventure is highly randomized. You end up generally going for a mix between all three. Bows and wands that you find will usually be pretty similar to other bows and wands, but the variety of Melee weapon types is quite extensive to suit your preference. Each Melee weapon has different damage values and speeds, so you can go quick and stabby with a dagger or slow and crushing with a two-handed mace. Best of all, both seem to be about as viable of an option as the other, and it all depends on what you prefer. The only issue I've found with this way of doing things is how dependant you are on the random drops. You might find great armour, but not find a single decent weapon or vice versa. You might find a great bow, but not a single arrow. It's an issue that's slightly placated by the shop system, where gold found in your run is carried over across all lives and can be used to purchase something at the shop before you enter the dungeon, which can give you a nice boost and insurance against the random drops. Your equipment isn't the only thing that dictates your effectiveness in battle. You also level up every now and then by defeating enemies, at which point you can put a point into one of three random stats. The game doesn't do a great job of explaining the stats. Most are self-explanatory, but I had to google Agility, and I didn't know Magic increased the amount of charges in a wand till someone told me online either. I recommend and even spread of stats, bar one. Health is by far, the most useful stat. Armour will not protect you from magic attacks, which will always deal max damage to you. Lots of health is a nice buffer between you and your imminent death.

In order to attack, you can either do a swift hit that will do less damage and have less accuracy, or you can charge up (which can take quite a while with the heavier weapons) to deal more damage and get a guaranteed hit. Fairly simple, and one-on-one battles may seem a tad dull after a while as a result. The complicated part comes when you get mobbed by a horde of enemies who want nothing more than to end your run, which becomes more common as your adventure goes on. It can be quite tense when you need to deal with enemies both far and near, so you need to switch quickly between melee and ranged. It's easy to get panicked and swing wildly, which is far from recommended, but its a sure sign that the combat system is working as intended. Sometimes flight can be a much better idea than fighting, especially on the return journey from the deepest level where you are chased down. As you get closer to the surface, it feels more and more like you are being hunted down as your health dips lower and lower.

For a game that's not even fully released, Delver has a lot to offer. The re-playability is impressive, even for a Roguelite and it's a very unique experience. It leaves me extremely excited for what the game will have to offer in the future!


Lots of re-playability

Unique and pleasing aesthetics

Great combat system


Not much explanation for stats

Random drops can sometimes be annoying

Written by,
Bad Demoman

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