For hundreds of years, people have lived in the safety of underground settlements and villages – where the only route to the surface is “Tangledeep,” a mysterious and ever-changing labyrinth. With memories of the surface world long forgotten, you set out for the labyrinth to discover what lies above. With each floor – full of magical beasts, ancient automatons, bizarre environments and hybrid biomes – the mystery grows ever deeper…
Thus the player is drawn into Tangledeep, a traditional roguelike from Impact Gameworks now out for Early Access on Steam.
Tangledeep is a pretty straight forward, retro roguelike. It has procedurally generated maps, enemies that only move when you do, and, of course, permadeath. There’s a few slight tweaks to the formula, like a bank that lets you store gold and items for future characters to use. There’s also an area to grow trees and harvest food, and a monster corral to capture monsters and get bonuses to those types of creatures in the dungeon.
I kinda lied about the permadeath before. It’s still there, mind you, but the game does give you an option to play without it in Adventure Mode. It’s the same game, but you don’t lose your character when you die.
When you first start the game you’re given the choice of 10 different classes (with more on the way), each with their own set of strengths and skills that can be learned using a job point system. You’re placed in the center of town and can talk to everyone to get the lay of the land before plunging into Tangledeep in search for the surface. In the town, there’s someone to give you quests, someone who sells food, another for weapons and items, a healer, the bank, and an advanced teacher. You can also find the grove and monster corral I talked about earlier.
Once in the dungeon, you’ll have to explore, fight monsters, find weapons/items, and discover all sorts of secrets. There’s also champion monsters, bosses, legendary items, etc… to make exploration a bit more interesting. You’ll be doing all this while maneuvering over various terrain types and keeping track of your health, stamina, and energy. Thankfully you’ll have a refillable healing flask to use in a pinch and a portal back to town that can be used if you can survive long enough to cast it. You can also learn different recipes to cook restorative items at campfires that are found between certain levels. One of the most interesting features of the game is the ability to enter an Item Dream. It’s a way to beef up items by completing dungeons “inside” the item.
Tangledeep is presented in a beautifully retro 16-bit pixel art that is reminiscent of old SNES Square Soft titles. Characters are wonderfully animated and the world certainly has a level of detail that’s quite impressive to behold. The soundtrack is another retro throwback using a SNES-style sample set. Also, famed composer Hiroki Kikuta, known for his work on games like Secret of Mana, will be writing a track for the game.
Checkout this awesome sample:
Tangledeep isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s hard, has a quite of a learning curve, and can be infuriating to play when you first start out. That being said, gamers new to the genre will certainly find the game more approachable than a lot of its ASCII siblings. A little time and willingness to learn the ropes will open the game up layer by layer into an amazingly enjoyable experience. I have to admit that even I, a veteran roguelike gamer, was a bit frustrated with the game when I first started play. Now it’s hard for me to put it down. There are a few bugs here and there, but the game is in Early Access. So far there’s been nothing so bad that the game becomes unplayable.
I’m sure I’ll be enjoying Tangledeep for quite some time, and I look forward to new content being added in before the game’s official release. The developer has been really active upkeeping a development log for the game, detailing everything that goes into each update.
Tangledeep may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth it to give it a shot and find out if this awesome game is for you.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.