The Living Dungeon Review

Looking over the library of available Xbox One games, the one genre the console lacks is the ‘board game’ game type. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of fans that would love to see their favourite board games on their Xbox One.

Well, for those of you in that camp, here’s some good news: here at Xbox One UK we recently got to go hands-on with The Living Dungeon. Will it be the board game cracker we hope for?

How does this board game based title stack up?

Living Dungeon 1

In this strategic adventure and exploration game, you find yourself on a board made up of tiles that are always changing – a living dungeon if you will. And you’re not alone in there. You have the pleasure of the company of monsters, mercenaries, traps and robots, all of which are trying to kill you off in their own unique ways.

The aim of the game here is to either make it to the goal, or kill the others on the board (the victory prerequisite is set for each level). As with the most straightforward of board game rules, each player takes their turn by rolling the dice to determine what actions can be taken. Dice rolls will offer a mixture of combat, movement, and mechanical with each roll. The combat and movement are fairly self-explanatory, mechanical requires a little more explanation.

The mechanical dice roll adds a really nice touch to The Living Dungeon. A mechanical dice roll allows you to change the board, and turn an impossible situation to your advantage. You can flip tiles, rotate sections and even make the floor vanish from under the other players – but use them wisely. It’s all too easy to play a powerful mechanical, only to find yourself boxed in by your own hand!

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to use all the dice if you don’t want to – sometimes it works to your advantage to cut your turn short rather than try to force the moves. Handy tip time – never finish your turn next to another player, this leaves you vulnerable and death means you have to start the level all over again from the beginning (frustrating to say the very least). In avoiding other players, though, make sure you actually finish your move standing on a tile – ending up over a hole or embedded in a wall also means instant death. It might sound obvious, but with other players and the other dangers all around, it’s easy to get distracted.

Living Dungeon 2

There are two modes of play in The Living Dungeon, single player and multiplayer but this is a resolutely local affair – there’s no online multiplayer.

The single player mode spends the first few levels walking new adventurers through the game learning the basic skills, before throwing you in the deep end. These tutorials are very helpful, allowing you to devise complex strategies from these simple building blocks – helpful for success on some of the later levels.  Not that careful planning and preparation is always the key – sometimes you will just want to wade straight in and sort it out as you go!

The single player mode is fun, although some poor graphical choices – everything is shrouded in a hazy brown which can make the board confusing when rotating it to identify the characters. The bland colour scheme gives few visual landmarks by which you can orient yourself.

The local multiplayer allows a massive nine players at a time – hope your sofa is big enough for that many people! As with most board games – and video game interpretations of them – more people means more fun. Board games are social events – the added banter with other players adds a degree of fun that’s only experienced in a shared group activity, like playing a board game (although in video game interpretations, the loser can’t flip the board in temper!)

There’s a huge amount of customisation in this mode as well; you really can play the way you want to – you can even play as the dungeon if you are feeling a bit twisted!

Overall, this isn’t a bad game to add to your collection. You will find yourself roaring like a barbarian when you get to use the combat dice, fretting like never before when the AI enemies start to close you down, cheering as you finish a level that has taken you a few turns and, best of all, having a laugh with a few friends. Just remember though; the dice won’t always give you what you want. It really boils down to luck at the end of the day!

You can get The Living Dungeon right now from the Xbox StoreThe Living Dungeon is a very reasonable £11.99 and will only take up 1.22 GB of space on your hard drive.

Check out the video below of some footage to get a feel for whether or not this game is for you!

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