Dungeon Runners Retail Pack Review
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium 4 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9600 or nVidia FX 5700 Ultra video card or equivalent, 1 GB HD space, internet connection, 16-bit sound card, Windows XP or more recent operating system
Someone has to hack. Or slash. Or retrieve 25 warg pelts for some idiot in town who is too lazy to get them himself, despite owning hundreds of powerful magical weapons. That's why the world needs dungeon runners – those foolhardy folk willing to risk their lives to kill tens of thousands of vicious dungeon dwellers, all for the privilege of finding the fancier weapons and armor that will allow them to kill ever more powerful creatures. And the world still needs Dungeon Runners. NCsoft has dispatched the Dungeon Runners retail pack to prove it.
Nothing from the original Dungeon Runners review has changed substantively. Dungeon Runners is still an action/role-playing game spoofing the other greats of the genre. The music is so close to that from Diablo II, that all you have to do is close your eyes while standing in the amusingly-named Townston to think you've been transported back to Tristram. But it's not Diablo. That's obvious even before you don your "Feverish Ordinary Cereal Box Ring of the Stitching Chinchilla."
While Dungeon Runners may be very much like the game that launched last year, a lot has happened over that year to polish and tweak the game for an even better experience. The Dungeon Runners team wasn't slacking off when they released a series of content updates dubbed chunks and heaves. These haven't transformed the game, but they've added a lot of new content, dramatically improved the introductory experience for new players, and added tons of new jokes and monsters that are, themselves, hilarious. A game that was funny now has an ingratiatingly irritating tutorial saurian, "squeekeasies" to raid for energy drinks, and even more silly monsters throughout. (I love the "More Cowbell" quest reward!) There is also player-vs.-player combat, now, for those of you who hold competition so near and dear. This is a game that sticks its tongue out so far at other action/RPGs that it could lick them from across the bus.
While it is free to try Dungeon Runners, as I pointed out in the original review, the free game isn't particularly compelling. You don't get important potions or most of the cool weapons, but you do get ads. For a reasonable $5 a month, you get everything that's cool about Dungeon Runners. The retail pack makes that deal even better. For $20, you get six months of play... and the "Bling Gnome."
The Bling Gnome is a little wanna-be hip-hop faerie creature, covered in bling and tattoos, and holding a shovel that says "I Can Dig It." If you value casual, or just plain lazy play, he's great – The Bling Gnome will grab all gold that drops for you, and can convert useless loot items to gold, saving you a trip back to town. To do so, he eats the items, poops them out as gold, and kindly collects his auriferous feces for you. It's gross, but in keeping with Dungeon Runners' humor, and more fun than picking everything up.
The Bling Gnome is a nice perk, exclusive to people who purchased the retail pack, but it's a very reasonable compromise. Like many such games, you have a pool of active and passive skills to use while wandering through dungeons and killing thousand of poor, not-all-that-defenseless, monsters. In the case of Dungeon Runners, you only get 10. So if you want the Bling Gnome to follow you around and pick up gold, you'll have to forego something that would make you more powerful, faster or otherwise more dangerous while running through dungeons. So players who don't pay don't need to despair that the Bling Gnome will upset some delicate balance.
So, more than a year later, is Dungeon Runners worth it? More so than ever. Playing the free version of the game will give you a taste of the humor, but the $5 per month membership fee transforms the game into something deeply absorbing, yet easy to pick up and play for moments at a time. With the retail pack, Dungeon Runners becomes an even better offer. And you get to hang out with Pope Sweet Geebus, a gnome who can turn stone into gold and a cloud of unpleasant smelling gas.