Skullstone is a dungeon crawling RPG

Skullstone is a 3D grid-based dungeon crawler where you, and your enemies, hop along the dungeon floor and attempt to obliterate each other through the use of weapons, magic, and deadly traps, all the while resisting the urge to succumb to the most unholy of temptations, moving diagonally.

Its currently still in development so expect to see some placeholder art, but the brief gameplay video the developers posted oozes that old school RPG charm that first drew me to the genre. Have a look, and skip to 55 seconds if you want to get to the gameplay directly:

 

After watching the video for even a few seconds it should be obvious that Skullstone is drawing inspiration from both older classics such as Stonekeep, and more modern games like the rather excellent Legend of Grimrock. However, while Skullstone might be similar in theme, its take on the gameplay mechanics is wildly different.

First of all, you don't get to customize your character, or party members. Instead, you will be able to chose from a big group (20-30) of unlucky sods that got sent to the dungeon, each with their own unique set of abilities, skills, and playstyle. While this might sound limiting at first, it does provide an easy way to balance out each character so that you don't end up with a scenario where you either completely trivialize the game, or make it next to impossible to beat, as I've foolishly managed to do on my first run through Grimrock.

Skullstone enemies tend to have lots of blades

Meet the friendly locals

You will still gain ability points, spells and equipment with which you can perk up your characters, but each one will excel at a certain aspect of dungeon crawling, be that crafting, fighting, taking hits to the noggin, or whatever else one might do in a cold stony prison. However, just because you start with a well balanced and pre-built team doesn't mean you should take things easy as Skullstone promises enemies that are both numerous, and actually able to use skills of their own rather than simply relying on chasing you around, square by square.

As far as spells and abilities are concerned, they come in three distinct flavors: timed effects which last, believe it or not, for a fixed amount of time after which you will need to recast the spell; toggle abilities that can be turned on/off at any time and will drain your character's mana/hp when active; and finally the idle abilities which will provide you with a bonus on your next swing, whenever that happens, after which the spell will enter its cooldown period.

Skullstone wasp enemy

Everyone's favorite... giant bloody wasps

Skullstone's aim with all of these changes is to provide a dungeon crawling experience that cannot be so easily figured out, especially through the use of simplistic tactics such as walking in a blocky-circle that made the difficulty in some of the older games a complete joke. Whether it will succeed in its goals or not, its too early to say, but Skullstone is shaping up to be quite interesting regardless.

The expected release date it sometime in 2016, and if you're looking for more info head over to the Skullstone Facebook page.

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