Just one more click, I say. And that’s how they get you, isn’t it? “They” in this case being the clever minds behind Desktop Dungeons ($15, PC or Mac), a game that exists somewhere in the gulf between roguelike and puzzler, with a bit of kingdom-building tossed in for good measure.

Lurking behind ho-hum visuals and simplistic mechanics is a fiendishly good time, one that’ll soak up hours of your day in ten minute increments. It’s also pretty funny, which is nice.

Rogue harder

Desktop Dungeons applies standard roguelike rules: combine a race and a class to create a character and delve into a randomly-generated dungeon, wandering down corridors scooping up loot and slaying the ne’er-do-wells lurking within. Killing things nets you experience points, which in turn raises your health and attack power so you’ll live longer and hit harder.

There are a few key differences. Combat is a bit of a tactical affair: you can see an enemy’s level, the amount of damage they’ll do with their next strike, and the amount of damage you’ll do, at every point of a fight. Enemies also won’t give chase—in fact they’re generally frozen in place, attacking only when you do. The trick lies in health regeneration: the bad guys are constantly healing themselves, but you’ll only regain health and mana by using one of your limited items, or stepping into unexplored areas of a dungeon. As you reveal terrain you’ll gain a bit of health and mana—all wasted if you’re already maxed out.

Every fight leaves me at something of an impasse. Instinct demands I sate my inner worrywart and goosestep around foes, ensuring I have the supplies, health, and mana to survive that next scrap. At which point said worrywart reminds me that exploring every nook and cranny would leave me with no place to retreat when fights go awry. It’s far better to take a sort of brazenly cautious approach, zapping foes that look manageable before pulling out, healing up, and looking for the next level-appropriate target. And you’ll want to think strategically: attacking enemies that are a slightly higher level than you yields extra experience points. With the right tactics you’ll be able to climb the ranks quickly and take out a dungeon’s toughest foes.

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