Dungeon Hunter 4 by Gameloft icon

Dungeon Hunter 4 (Free) by Gameloft is the fourth installment of the popular Dungeon Hunter franchise. While the first two games were fantastic must-haves for any dungeon crawler fan, the third one took a dip into arena-based combat, tarnishing what the game was known for. Does it redeem itself with the latest installment?

I was a big fan of the original Dungeon Hunter and the sequel, so understandably, I was disappointed when I saw that DH3 was arena-based, a la Gun Bros style. The story-driven dungeon crawler that I loved was gutted, and replaced with something completely out of character. Now, with DH4, I am pleased to report that there is an actual story in the game, though it is centered around the cliché demons-are-released-and-are-destroying-the-castle plot. However, it’s nice to see a story somewhere in the game. It’s also going back to the dungeon crawling roots, like in Diablo, but there are still some arena-based elements, such as in the multiplayer.

Dungeon Hunter 4 by Gameloft screenshot

First and foremost, the graphics in this game are really quite impressive. It’s almost like having Diablo 3 on your iOS device. The dungeons are rich with detail, character movements are smooth and fluid, and the text in menus are legible (there are games out there with text that is definitely hard to read at times). All of your weapons and armor are displayed as they look in your inventory, so every character will look different as you progress further in the game. The soundtrack is your typical action-adventure RPG fare, and there’s actually some decent voice acting going on in this game.

Players are able to choose from four different classes: a hefty knight, dual-wielding blademaster, mage, and a sentinel marksman. You can also pick your gender, just like in Diablo. Once pick the character you want, you’ll go straight into a cinematic cutscene and learn about the demons who broke free and are now wreaking havoc across the land. Then you are in the battlefield, fending off the demons that approach you with malicious intent.

Controls follow the dual-stick shooter format. The left joystick allows your character to move around the screen, and the right joystick will allow you to aim and attack. There are also three skill buttons that are placed around the joysticks for easy access. Your standard attack won’t cost any mana or energy, but special attacks, skills, and spells will. Your health and mana/energy are displayed at the top left corner. The gold and crystals you have are shown at the top, and you can see a mini-map in the top right corner. This is helpful for navigating the area, and you can see allies/NPCs as green dots, and enemies as red.

When you want to access your character inventory, skills, and crafting, just tap on your character information in the top left. When you gain experience points and level up, you earn a skill point to assign to a skill ability or passive. The more points a skill has, the more powerful it is. Of course, like all other RPG or dungeon crawler games, you will only have a certain amount of skill points over time, so you should choose to spend them wisely.

Dungeon Hunter 4 by Gameloft screenshot

You can craft stronger equipment, items, and also find them as drops from bosses and in treasure chests in the dungeons. There is only so much space in your bag, though, so make sure you keep only what is necessary and sell off the rest.

There are achievements to obtain in the game, though they are not done through Game Center, oddly enough. Instead, they are done through Gameloft’s own game network, which I find to be a bit annoying — I want the achievements through Game Center, so I can continue to hoard points.

While I really wanted to like Dungeon Hunter 4, I just cannot get on board the ridiculous freemium model that Gameloft decided to go with for the Dungeon Hunter franchise. When you go through the tutorial, you will soon discover that everything will have a timer that is not just for minutes, but hours. And if you have no patience for this, the game wants you to bypass it by using premium crystal currency. In fact, I don’t believe you can even purchase health potions with the gold you collect, and the game gets aggressively difficult very quickly, trying to force you to buy crystals through in-app purchases.

Seriously, Gameloft. This would have been a great title that is worth at least $6 in my eyes, but it’s all ruined by ridiculous IAPs. There’s not even a way to do a one-time purchase to get rid of the freemium model. I’d rather just play Diablo 3 on my computer if I want a dungeon crawler, in all honesty.

Unless you like to be nickel-and-dimed to death, I don’t recommend this game at all. But if you like the pain, then you can get Dungeon Hunter 4 in the App Store here.