Dungeon Tiles (Free) by Iyoda is a minimalistic puzzle game that combines strategy and RPG aspects. Think of Threes! but with match-three RPG elements like Good Knight Story, and that is pretty much Dungeon Tiles. And boy, let me tell you, it’s a great combination.
I do a lot of gaming on my mobile device, despite having a New Nintendo 3DS and a PlayStation 4 on hand. This is because my iPhone is with me pretty much everywhere I go, and it’s easy and fast to launch up a game whenever I have some spare time throughout the day. For me, puzzle games are the best on-the-go, since I can keep my mind stimulated and games last a few minutes at a time. About two years ago, Threes! erupted on the market, and is still one of my all-time favorite puzzle games, despite my terrible scores compared to others. While I still love Threes!, I’m always up for something fresh and interesting with existing game concepts, which is why Dungeon Tiles caught my eye. When I saw it hit the App Store last night, I downloaded it immediately and I’ll be honest, I’m finding it very hard to put down.
As mentioned already, Dungeon Tiles carries a minimalistic aesthetic that I enjoy. The background is a dark purple most of the time, which means that the vibrant colored tiles on the board stand out nicely against it. Simple icons are used to represent life (heart), attack (sword), gold (bars of gold), and enemy dragons. Animations are smooth and fluid as all of the game pieces slide along as you move them, and there are some fun, flashy effects that happen when you make matches and add to the cumulative totals. The game also has an ambient soundtrack that I found rather soothing, and definitely adds to the overall game.
So what is Dungeon Tiles? If you’ve played Threes!, then the gameplay should be familiar to you. In Dungeon Tiles, you will have a board that is full of colored tiles that represent swords, dragons, lives, and gold. You collect these by matching two or more of the same tile, and to move them, you swipe on the screen in the direction you want the tiles to move. Each swipe will move all of the tiles at once, and a new tile comes in after you swipe as well. To better plan your strategy, pay attention to the upcoming tile, which is shown in the preview in the upper right corner. The total combined value of tile matches gets added to the cumulative totals at the top, and this is when things get tricky. And when you match three or four tiles at once, you get more points for the combo and the tiles get cleared from the board.
The gameplay is more than just making matches, since you have to survive too. The numbers at the top represent the power of your attack to eliminate the dragons, and the dragons indicate how much health they will take away from your life score when the next match is made. Your swords total will decrease as it is used to eliminate dragons, but as long as you continue to match sword tiles, it will accumulate again. Don’t let the dragon value get too high, because it is super easy to not notice and then you match dragons and get destroyed. Replenish your health constantly by matching up heart tiles to recover from the dragons. The game ends when you are either out of moves on the board or you run out of lives.
As you slay dragons, you’ll gain “experience points,” which is gauged by the bar on the left side of the grid. When you “level up,” the game gets more difficult, but eventually you’ll find stronger tiles that have special attacks or abilities to help you get even further and rack up the points. The gold tiles let you obtain coins that can be spent on power-up items, like doubling your life or getting rid of all dragons from the arena. However, be warned — these items can only be used once per game, so if you are going to use them, make sure they count.
Another thing that makes Dungeon Tiles interesting is the Two-Player Mode. With this, two people can play against each other on the same device, and the rules are changed a bit. Since it’s based on turns, when one player slides all of their tiles, the opponent’s tiles are moved in that direction as well. And when three sword tiles get combined, one dragon tile is sent to the opponent. Both of these additions mean it is possible to ruin your opponent’s arena layout, and it’s a unique twist to the game. The only problem is that the two-player mode is local-only, so there is no multiplayer option online. I can understand why, since online asynchronous turn-based games can take forever to complete.
I’ve been playing Dungeon Tiles a lot since I downloaded it to my iPhone last night, and it’s definitely going to stay on my device for a long time. I enjoy the minimalist look and feel, the atmospheric music is relaxing to listen to and helps you focus, and the gameplay itself is challenging and refreshing. It truly is a mashup of Threes! and match-three RPG games, which ends up being an awesome combination. Plus, the local two-player mode is great for passing time in line (think Disneyland) or when you want to best your friends in another game. I love this game so much I did not hesitate at all to get the in-app purchase to remove the occasional video ads between rounds.
I highly recommend checking out Dungeon Tiles, especially if you like strategic puzzle games. You can find Dungeon Tiles on the App Store as a universal app for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV for free with in-app purchases.