Classic RPGs have always been my favorite. The concept of a job system, turn-based gameplay, and colorful, charming 16-bit graphics were a large part of my gaming history growing up. Tangledeep seeks to capitalize on this nostalgia while adding elements from roguelikes and procedurally generated games to craft a brand new experience. Tangledeep just found its way to Early Access on July 18th, and the developers plan to keep updating it until its full release this winter.
The concept of Tangledeep is simple. You find yourself in an underground world, where people live in the safety of settlements and villages. The only way to reach the surface is through exploring Tangledeep, an ever changing labyrinth that is never the same each time you explore it. Can you make your way to the surface and discover what has long been forgotten by your people? Or will you be lost in the depths of Tangledeep?
One thing I immediately noticed looking into Tangledeep, is that the options with which to control the game seem to be comfortable for every type of gamer. According to the Steam store page, virtually every type of controller is supported, as well as keyboard and mouse, or mouse only control-schemes. Any control option can be rebound on your controller, keyboard, or a gaming mouse of your choice. This is a particularly good selling point for me because many games are designed with one particular control scheme in mind. I personally reviewed this with a controller, but I think having additional options for other types of player is important.
Something else that caught my attention is the accessibility of the difficulty options presented to you. You have either Heroic mode (which is the intended way for Tangledeep to be experienced, and the more difficult mode) which includes permadeath like most roguelike games. In Heroic mode, you start at level 1 after dying, lose all of your money, aside from things you have put in your bank, and progress that you have made in your town. Alternatively, you can pick Adventure mode, which is an easier mode for more casual players, that only costs you current XP towards your next level, half your gold, and unspent job points. You are then returned to the town where you can continue your adventure all over again.
When you begin the game you are given a choice of 9 jobs, from Brigand (a rogue/assassin class) to the Floramancer, which relies on summoned creatures, nature, and defensive abilities. Other classes include the Sword Dancer (an elemental melee class), the Spellshaper (which serves as a traditional mage class), the classic Paladin, and a few others that provide drastically different gameplay styles. You also are able to pick two feats (similar to feats in tabletop games). Feats can give you higher defenses, higher health, make you earn JP (job points) quicker, and more.
You begin in a camp, where you have access to a banker, a store, and another NPC that helps you by blessing you, allowing you to rest, or change jobs. The bank allows you to store up to nine items, and as much money as you would like. Storing money with the banker is important on both difficulties, so you don’t lose all (or half) of your hard earned money if you die. The store provides various items from foods to potions; food usually works for health, while potions provide other effects.
You can also collect quests at camp, which allow you to go out and find treasure in return for various rewards. Tangledeep feels like so much more than just a roguelike. It feels like an adventure, a 16-bit nostalgic adventure that lets me craft a different sort of character each time I play.
Like the castle in Rogue Legacy, your town will grow as you gain knowledge and explore deeper into the labyrinth of Tangledeep. I won’t spoil too much about what your town can grow into, but there are a lot of different elements to it, like farming with special trees that give you renewable fruit every so often if you come to pick them from the tree. There is also a “monster raising” mechanic in game that allows you to tame monsters, thereby giving you bonuses against that particular family of monster out in the wilds of Tangledeep.
Like Diablo and other games of its kind, you have the ability to town portal back to the safety of your camp. The only catch is that it takes twelve turns to portal out. Since this is a turn-based game, each time that you move or attack is one turn, akin to Dungeons of Dredmor. This means that your portal cannot save you if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. It is best to assess your surroundings carefully, then portal out before you get in too deep.
While out in the wilds of Tangledeep, you may come across campfires. Campfires allow you to cook, crafting items by mixing food ingredients together such as fish, bananas, grains, and more. This is essential to provide yourself with additional healing supplies to accompany your flask (which has limited uses and must be refilled at magic fountains). As you progress further into Tangledeep, you will unlock something that may sound familiar to players of the Disgaea series. Something called the “Item Dream” mechanic.
The Item Dream mechanic is inspired by the Item World in the Disgaea series. Essentially the Item Dream is a dungeon that, upon completion, will upgrade the item that created the Item Dream. Unlike the Item World in Disgaea, the Item Dream is covered in poisonous water that will lower your health over time. In order to mitigate this issue, you can use items called Planks, to walk on and avoid the poison effect of the water.
It is important to note that Tangledeep is still in early access. There are new content updates happening all the time for things like new jobs, dungeon sections, story content, and bug fixes. Tangledeep is a very fun experience, and as far as Early Access games go, it has very few problems. Particularly the only problem that I had with Tangledeep was with its difficulty, but that is intentional for most games like this, so I really can’t complain too much.
If you enjoy roguelike games, like Chocobo’s Dungeon or Dungeons of Dredmor, then you will definitely enjoy Tangledeep. The music is great and the environments and scenery are fantastic 16-bit creations. I am excited to see how it grows and changes as Tangledeep is updated.
A Steam Review Copy of Tangledeep was provided by Impact Gameworks for the Purpose of this Review