Review: Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW

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Adventure Time is a show that lends itself to a video game adaptation. It’s full of amazing landscapes, funny characters, cool weapons and mysterious artefacts. It’s a shame then to see the Adventure Time name attached to a game that forgets all of that.

At first glance “Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know” is aiming for the look of 1990s nostalgia. It fits the tone of Adventure Time and it’s worked for other titles like Scott Pilgrim vs The World The Game.

adventure_time_explore_the_dungeon_headerBut something that doesn’t quite make sense is how the short cut-scenes are presented. They don’t seem to be designed to fit properly on the screen, with the boxes changing dimensions at random.

And even worse, the dialogue lacks any charm or humour making it very clear that the usual show writers are elsewhere. So in the end you might wish they’d just put in clips from the show, because you would at least be entertained for a while.

Explore the Dungeon is a dungeon crawler where you fight your way through 100 levels because Princess Bubblegum wants to know why all of her prisoners are escaping. And that’s it. No, really. Every so often there’s a boss fight but they don’t really add any story.

Every dungeon level is essentially the same and the poor design will find you running into dead ends because you mistook a wall for a section of floor. This rectifies itself once you reach the ice levels where things are a bit clearer but it’s just another skin over the same designs.

There are minor RPG elements that let you build up your characters with the usual extra health and stronger attacks but you never feel like you’re gaining anything truly valuable. Even worse is that the treasure you need to buy these upgrades get taken from you every time you re-enter the dungeon, meaning you have to collect the full amount in one go.

The punishing nature wouldn’t be so bad if the upgrades were worth it and they’re really not because in the end the game plays exactly the same. Titles like Castle Crashers knew that you can do the hack-and-slash repetitive stuff if it meant being rewarded with something cool. But here you feel very little incentive to even fight the monsters, so at times you just find yourself floating to the nearest exit.

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There is some enjoyment to be had in building up your roster of characters. Or at least until you snag your favourite. It’s nice to have Marceline from the very beginning though, as she’s the most painless choice. She can float over the large number of pits and traps that are a nuisance otherwise. Even better she can absorb certain attacks to build up her special move. It feels like a bit of a cheat though when you can float in the middle of a bunch of fairies for a couple of minutes only to blast them all in one go once your meter’s full.

It’s at least nice to see most of the voice actors are on board but after hearing the same few phrases repeated endlessly you’ll even get bored of hearing John DiMaggio. And really that sums up the game in one sentiment.

“Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know” is a game that punishes you too often for too few rewards. Any fun is sucked out by its repetitive nature and terrible level design. You’re better off watching your Adventure Time DVDs instead.

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