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Review: Catacombs

April 2, 2010


InMotion Software brought us the highly addicting and widely acclaimed I Dig It games, I Dig It, and I Dig It Expeditions. Now they try their hand at a Gaunlet-like dual-stick shooter, which is a much different concept than their previous ore mining games. With the number of dual-stick shooters on the App Store, Catacombs looks like an interesting addition to the genre.


Catacombs features four characters; a warrior, an archer, and a mage, as well as a fourth thief character than can be unlocked after obtaining a set score. In addition, characters have special attacks and can become stronger after leveling up, and you can designate which stats you want to improve. In addition there are different types of unique monsters you will combat, including skeletons, slimes, spiders, and orcs. There is also a quest system, a Survival mode, and mini-bosses.

The Good

Catacombs tries to emulate the arcade gameplay of Gauntlet, and it does an adequate job of doing so. While stalking through dungeons and gathering keys to advance to the next level, you'll frequently be met with monsters and other creatures bent on killing you. Catacombs certainly pays homage to the inspiration of its core gameplay idea. Leveling up your character and improving certain areas such as attack power, magic power, and health also brings a certain element of customization to the game. While it won't nearly be as complicated as your standard RPG, the leveling up aspect allows for some variety between players as they can concentrate on the area they think is the most important. The power-ups are also very useful, and one makes your projectiles bounce off walls, another gives you a triple shot, and another can make your character run much faster. The multiple characters have different special attacks and characteristics, so a playthrough with each of them will be different. You'll have to adjust how you play accordingly, and the variation helps keep each playthrough fresh. There is also a fourth Thief character that can be unlocked after obtaining a set amount of gold in the game, which provides incentive to keep playing.

The Bad

While the dark and gloomy dungeon certainly looks and feels realistic, walking through tens of levels of gray, drab background feels extremely repetitive and it may get boring later on in the game. If you want a more colorful, lush background, you can buy the forest map will cost you an additional $0.99. Catacombs also misses the mark on delivering an action-packed, frantic feeling as you fight monsters. At one time there will be no more than two monster portals, which spawn enemies until the portals' energy runs out. The problem with this is that the skeletons are much too easy to kill, as your character is faster than them and can pick them off one by one while strolling backwards. Faster enemies with more health would certainly make the game more frantic than it is currently, even on the hardest difficulty. The quest system is a welcome addition, but it is just too confusing and random to actually be considered something compelling in the game. In addition, the gold that you receive for finishing a quest is paltry compared to what you had to do to actually meet the requirements.

The Verdict

Catacombs will bring back memories of Gauntlet for older gamers, and will be pleasing to the younger generation also. Though there could be more enemies, faster gameplay, and more maps, what you get in the game is still a good price for the $0.99 price point. There isn't a lot a lot of content, but what's there is worth it and will keep you playing for a good while.

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