7DRL 2011 Reviews - "PM" the RL

PM:theRL has a weird name. And a weird plot. But pretty soon after you start playing it, you figure out what is going on.

Look familiar? 

Needless to say, PM the RL is a roguelike version of a certain classic arcade game. It is short and to the point. I actually had a lot of fun playing this game. It is pretty nerve-wracking to not be able to see the enemy ghosts at all times. You never know when you are going to turn a corner and run into one of them. Then again, the turn-based nature of roguelikes makes avoiding the ghosts somewhat easier. It’s also pretty excruciating in that often you can KNOW beforehand that you are screwed: e.g. if you are trapped in a corridor with two ghosts and can see that one of them will get to you in less than the number of steps you need to take to get to a side-corridor.

But that is the kind of excruciating that is fun! (Roguelikes might be the only genre where this is an acceptable statement.)

I also like that the author included the right-to-left-side level teleport as in the original game; that was a nice touch.


PM:theRL is an experimental take on a classic game. In this case, the experiment is a success. Short, fun, and mildly terrifying.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Dwarftown

Dwarftown is the 2011 7DRL entry by hmp.

The game is a fairly traditional dungeon diver roguelike. Except without any actual diving. Instead, progress is made by progressing further and further into the more difficult areas of the world. You start out in a peaceful wood, with bears and squirrels running about and not bothering you. Eventually you will find the rat caves (rats, bats) and from there Dwarftown (goblins, ogres) and the Dwarftown Market (mimics!).

Don’t poke the bear.

Like many entrants in this year’s 7DRL challenge, Dwarftown uses the libtcod library. However, just using the library does not mean that a game automatically looks good. Dwarftown has a ton of polish in this regard. The colors are nicely done, and the lighting is both nice to look at and tactical. For example, when you first get to the rat caves it is hard to see what is going on and rats kept sneaking up on me. Your character starts with a torch (there are also torches to find in the dungeon) that can be lit. Once lit, the dungeon becomes much more manageable, but only until your lighting lasts!

Dynamic lighting. Also glowing fungus!

Dwarftown itself especially makes good use of the dynamic lighting engine.

The gameplay in Dwarftown feels solid. The monsters seem to take an appropriate amount of bashing to kill, and I was not surprised to be killed by the various things that killed me. (e.g. I would not expect to do well against a level 5 Ogre with my meager 1d6 sword)

The game itself is smooth and had no lag or errant pixels or anything on my windows XP machine. I know from experience that designing a scrolling map is a pain in the ass. Coupled with tons of bears and squirrels running around each step I expected some sort of slow down, but never saw any. Kudos to hmp for creating such a fine experience.

I never did make it out of Dwarftown alive, but I did find lots of cool stuff in the abandoned markets. (Just watch out for mimics).

“O” shit, indeed.

Dwarftown is a simple but polished classic roguelike. Certainly an awesome achievement for a 7DRL. Go play it for yourself!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Mad Mage

Mad Mage is a fun concept. I was curious to try it out after reading the initially summary. Here’s the gist: you (the wizard) are slowly (or rather quickly in some cases) going mad. This means the reverse of the standard roguelike identification system. All of your items (scrolls, potions) are identified to begin with, but become unidentified over time.

The great thing about this is that it sort of becomes a meta-game outside of the game. You start thinking to yourself: did I put that scroll of murder in my sash or in my robe. Was it slot a or slot b? Oh well, I’ll just toss this random potion and see what happens!

It’s a mad world

Mad World has a nice old-school look to it. I personally like my roguelikes to look like roguelikes. I didn’t have any problems running the game on Windows XP. It also does a nice job of mixing up the scenery, which is strangely not done very often in roguelikes. Your mad mage travels through grassy plains, caves, dungeons, deserts, and swamps on his quest to find the… something? In particularly mad fashion, I never was able to end the game by finding the ossuary.

Scroll of Mass Death. Why don’t more games have that?
Deserts look like deserts

The various potion/scroll effects are great. The randomized enemy names are very charming. As is the inventory system. When I first looked at it I was annoyed: WTF… I have to put stuff into 9 different slots?? After playing the game for a while I figured out why. It’s a great way to organize your items and help you remember things. Like I said, it’s charming too. It’s fun to think about a wizard wandering around with random scrolls in his hat and potions in his boots.

I put on my wizard hat and robe. And boots.

The charm comes out in the random messages your wizard says as well: now where did I put that…? What did I have for breakfast this morning? Excellent stuff.

I’ve seen other reviews of the game talking about the map generation. Personally, I found it to be a little annoying. I ran into way too many dead ends. But hey… maybe it is just part of going mad right? The levels are also huge; I never really got that feeling of “everything is explored” that you do in other roguelikes. I always felt like I was missing something, but really there was nothing leading me in any particular direction, so it was a little frustrating to me, personally. Now, I am the kind of guy who has a label on his label maker so it could just be me. 🙂

Mad Mage has a lot of charm and I am hoping to have time to go back and beat it once I’ve played the rest of the games. Great job!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Monster Slayer Show


Awesome name? Check.

Amazing title screen? Check.

Love a good title screen

Unique gimmick? Check.

Tight leather pants? Check!

Extra tight please.




Does your game have a lazer megacannon? Didn’t think so.

So, yeah. I had a blast playing this game. This is the kind of game you play and look at all of the blood and dead monsters, turn towards the spectators and say “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!?“. This is the kind of game that you play and then hang your head in shame because your own 7DRL is pretty lame in comparison.

I would review this game more but I really need to change out of these tight leather pants and go fix my rocket launcher. Meanwhile, I suggest you play this game, yesterday.

5 out of 5 @s. TO THE EXTREME!!

EDIT: I guess I should include a link to the actual game! Go play it.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Light

Ok, 13 out of 45  7DRLs reviewed. Almost 30%!

If the rest of these games are as good and complete as the ones I have played so far I am in some serious trouble.

On to the next game: Light, by Kaw.

This is another libtcod game! Man, this thing is everywhere. Maybe I should actually sit down and look at using it? Nahhhhh.

First off, Light looks great. As expected from a game called light, it handles lighting really well. The diffusion is great and the independent light sources are amazing. It’s rare to see actual lighted MONSTERS wandering around, casting light as they go. I had to keep from running into the glowbugs because I didn’t want to actually kill them.

All of the lights.

It has a very limited inventory, which normally forces some interesting tactical decisions. However, in Light I didn’t feel like I could give up my light source, and I couldn’t figure out how to drop my tinderbox, so I really only had one ‘spare’ slot for one of the many potions I came across.

The dungeon features were cool. I like pulling switches and jumping down holes and all that.

Unfortunately that is about all I can say about Light. It crashed a few times on my windows machine and I never got past level 3. (I did let the author know, since that is what I would want someone to do for me.)

But finishing any sort of 7DRL that runs is considered an accomplishment in my book, so kudos!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.