Legend of Keepers, kill the heroes – First Sip Review
Legend of Keepers is a dungeon manager roguelike. Both developed and published by Goblinz Studio the team behind games such as Iris and the Giant, A Long Way Down, and plenty more. Among their other titles is a game called Dungeon Rushers in which a team of heroes explored dungeons in turn-based combat. Legend of Keepers contains both dungeons and turn-based combat. But they are far from the same game.
The game is a fairly simple premise. There is a dungeon filled with treasure and guarded by an evil demon. A group of intrepid adventures will brave the horrors of the dungeon, defeat their foes and survive the traps and curses. However, where it differs from the norm. In this game, you’re the bad guys. It’s up to you to populate the dungeon with monsters and traps to guard your treasure. But more than that you’re actually luring the adventurers to you as their blood and tears are monster currencies. Well, those and standard gold which you’ll get as well.
Now, the concept of playing as the bad guys is not unique at this stage. Even monsters controlling a dungeon has been done. For instance, Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! But Legend of Keepers does do things a little bit differently. Yes, you are an evil being who controls a dungeon and places monsters. However, the dungeon is run like a business and the monsters are considered employees. It’s a somewhat silly idea and the developers embrace the absurdity of it. But it works really well overall.
Unfortunately, beyond the concept of the game, there really isn’t much in the way of story. At least at this stage in the development. There are some vague backstory and lore sprinkled throughout, but nothing really substantial. All you really know is that the monsters have stuff the adventurers want, and that’s good for the monsters because they want to kill or scare the adventurers.
This time around Goblinz Studio have opted for a detailed pixel-art style. The designs are quite nice, everything looks great and the animation is smooth. However, there comes a point fairly early in the game where things start to feel very samey. There are a few different types of dungeons and adventurer types. But mostly you’ll see the same few sort of shuffled around. Sometimes you’ll even see the same dungeon 3 times in a row with the three adventurers having a lot of commonalities each time as well. Now the game is still in the early days. In fact, it is in Early Access and has yet to hit the 1.0 iteration that will be the full release. And it seems that there are plans for a lot more future content. Hopefully, this extends to the dungeon layouts.
One other thing to note is the fact that the developers are embracing the Steam Workshop. This means that a ton of new monsters can be added to the game quite easily. However, it also means the animation and design of the characters varies greatly by the creator. It’s still something to applaud though as the world is filled with some really great pixel artists.
The music in the game is consistently fairly good. Mostly an epic sounding orchestral score, sometimes it’s fairly minimal and in the background. But other times it becomes more intense to match the situation. It’s not the most amazing score I’ve heard in a game. But it’s pretty solid overall.
The sound design, however, is another matter. Each attack that is launched carries a sound effect and an impact sound. And each of these fits quite well with the animation. There are also satisfying noises when you make selections for things like character placements.
But probably the best and most unexpected feature soundwise is the voice acting. As you play the game a representative from “the company” will provide you with updates and explain certain game aspects to you. She is a large cyclops lady and she has a pleasant voice that doesn’t really match the character, but that’s kind of the point. Unfortunately, she doesn’t talk often and neither does anyone else, which sort of goes back to the lack of a story.
The gameplay as mentioned earlier is sort of a mix of dungeon management, roguelike, and turn-based RPG. While elements of each style somewhat impact the overall game it is mostly split into three main sections.
When a battle starts it will begin with the dungeon preparation stage. In this part of the game, the dungeon will be split into various rooms that need to be set up. To begin with, you’ll have monster rooms, trap rooms, a spell room, and the boss room. But as you progress there will be new rooms added such as environment rooms, campfires and mini-boss rooms. During this preparation stage, the only rooms you can interact with are the trap and monster rooms.
In each of these rooms, you will be able to select either a trap to set or three monsters to populate the room depending on which type of room it is. The placement of these rooms are randomized on each run. However, the boss room is always at the end and I have never seen two trap or monster rooms in a row.
Next, we have the battle phase, in this phase, the adventurers will attempt to fight through each room of the dungeon to kill the boss and take the treasure. This is where the environment and spell rooms come into play. As when the adventurers reach these rooms you will have three different options to play. The fact that you select these during the run and not in the preparation phase is quite helpful. As you won’t know exactly how a fight will play out so each option will be of differing use situationally.
When the adventurers reach a monster room it will initiate a battle between the monsters and the adventurers. There are quite a few variables to take into account such as elemental resistances and which area an attack targets (front, back or area which is all three). However, it is a general rule that the adventurers will be stronger than your monsters so they will likely lose the first fight and have to rely on the traps, spells and the like and possible have the second set or even the boss clean up the remnants. But luck and skill can result in early victories.
Enemies have both a health and morale meter and draining either one of them will result in them exiting the fight. Health drain will cause them to die and morale drain will have them flee instead.
The game takes place over years, as per our year it is split into 52-week sections. But 52 battles in a row for a single promotion sounds a bit boring. So in between battles, you will have a few weeks of random events. Now again the events are randomized by RNG but you will have at least 2 options, sometimes 3 to pick from. These can be anything from a merchant to buy more traps or hire more units. To a gym that allows your dungeon boss to get stronger, or even a random event which may have positive or negative effects on your team. These events are also where you use your resources, primarily gold but you’ll also use tears and blood for things, or with the alchemist event, you can change some resources into other ones.
Also during the event weeks you’re able to move traps in and out of storage and employees in and out of the garrison. However, the garrison is far more important than storage. As when an employee falls in battle they will lose motivation, if they lose all motivation they are kept out of your roster for weeks. So generally you’ll want enough strong monsters to cycle them out to the garrison before that happens.
It’s still early days for the game and there are still elements on their roadmap to be integrated. Chiefly among them is the addition of a third dungeon boss. Once again the developers’ decision to allow Steam Workshop additions will help with increasing the content in the game. But ultimately to make this game really stand out there is some work that needs to be done. It would be nice to have a fully-fledged story mode with the chosen dungeon boss as the protagonist. Perhaps a vs mode against real players where one side can send a group of adventurers through the other’s dream dungeon.
Scaling also seems to be somewhat of an issue in the current build. To begin with, you’ll find that the adventurers are tough but can be taken down. But as you progress the adventurers will constantly improve while your team is somewhat down to luck. As you need to hope for specific events to level your team and then a bad event might sit your strongest unit on the bench. The first year (52 events including battles), seems to be ok, but beyond that you’ll run into issues where you receive a new level 1 unit that will be one-shotted by a standard adventurer.
More fine-tuning is required but it has a lot of potential. However, you should get a few hours of enjoyment out of the current build.
In Coffee Terms
To put it simply, this game in coffee terms is a mixture of two standard blends. It tastes pretty good at first but needs more time to bring out the full potential. As currently, it’s not as satisfying long-term as either of the blends used.
Legend of Keepers Links
Legend of Keepers Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.