Tuesday, 20 March 2012

7DRL reviews: The Challenge

The Challenge by Xlambda

Available here

OK The premise for this game is amazing and apparently came out of a lively forum discussion. I'll let the author explain it:

"Play a young and hopeful programmer trying to write a 7DRL as he faces certain doom in the Dungeons of Development! Get through the dungeon before the Seven Days of Magic are over! Wield powerful weapons such as vi and emacs! Run from bugs and segfaults! Drink massive amounts of coffee to increase your laziness! And other stuff."

So, the game is written in Java with the help of a ui library and an fov library. It's a great premise as I said, the ascii presentation is good. There are objects to pick up, ranged and mêlée combat and everything fits in nicely and sometimes humorously with the theme.

Unfortunately there is a big problem with the game in my eyes. Despite the author promising: " Lots of fast-paced dungeon-crawling fun." the game is actually very tedious and slow when it comes to combat.

1. There is no diagonal movement.
2. It takes quite a lot of hits to kill a single creature with mêlée (like 5 or 6) and there's no visible indication on screen that anything is happening (like letters could have flashed or something) so you end up getting bored of spamming the key to attack and hold it down until something happens. That isn't good or fun.
3. Even worse, if more than one monster is attacking you you can't even hold the attack button down because you get a promt "more" and you have to press space each turn, which means you have to get into a direction-space key spamming cycle. Awful.

I'll be honest, I got so frustrated I didn't finish my first game and exited the game on the 2nd level.

With a couple of simple changes to make this combat not tedious this could have maybe been a really good and fun game. If anything it stands as a warning to test your game for playability before releasing.


 I have gone back to the game and persevered. The combat becomes a lot less tedious when you get updated weapons (text editors). The ranged combat (via "patches") is fun and aoe kills multiple enemies. So I solved the game as seen below. (It's easy to solve really, I suppose the challenge would be getting the best score).
Another criticism I would have though, is that while the inventory system lets you feel like you are doing something, it would be more convenient if lesser weapons were dropped when you got a better one, buff type items were used immediately etc. There's no actual need for an inventory system in this game.


  1. Yeah, melee pretty much sucks when you start, I personally try to find a better editor asap. It's a reflection of programmers not knowing the best way to work with code when they start their career. (Yes, you CAN write a 7DRL with notepad. It's about as tedious as completing the game with notepad. Meaning, it sucks.)

    The combat log sucks, but multi-monster combat is dangerous anyway, especially with powerful monsters. The AI is really stupid, which allows you to avoid that situation by carefully navigating. (This would have worked better with 8-directional movement, but meh. Post-challenge patch.) My intention was that people would try to kill monsters one-by-one, which is how I play it.

    And yes, the game is horribly easy. But trying to get a score above 4k (or even better, 5k) can be challenging.

    1. I guess I should add that it was my first 7DRL (and my first playable RL at all), so basically everything was written from scratch. Having some reusable code available would have added at least a day or two to the time I spent actually working on the gameplay.

  2. Thanks for commenting. I'm glad I persevered with the game. The combat at the start is bad though and with so many roguelikes coming out this week to try out it's easy to give up at the first hint of tedium.