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The RPG Files: Tangledeep Review - Living In A Retro World

By Scott Jeslis on February 01, 2018 | Columns | Comments

Tangledeep Review - Living In A Retro World

In an age when retro-gaming seems to be the craze (e.g. the SNES Classic Edition) the time seems right for Impact Gameworks’ roguelike PC RPG that harkens back to the age of 16-bit SNES RPG classics. Does this swashbuckling, dungeon crawler pull us in “deep” or will it leave us “tangled” in a quagmire of 16-bit flashbacks we’d rather forget? This is our review of Tangledeep on the PC.

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As soon as the opening screen pops up you feel a sense of nostalgia overcome you as the opening screen scrolls vertically from the top down, displaying a beam of light in a dim lit forest. This game is set and based on a somewhat familiar theme. You, the female heroine, are the warrior and savior for a group of people who want to learn more. These villagers are different from the norm, in that they have lived in the safety of underground settlements and villages, for hundreds of years. The only way to the surface is through “Tangledeep,” an ever-changing labyrinth. With memories of the surface world long forgotten, you set out to discover what lies above, floor by grueling floor.

The game plays in an isometric view and graphically looks like a 16-bit game all replete with vibrant colors, upbeat music, and lots of scrolling text. The game plays in a lot of resolutions. I played in the native 1920 x 1080 resolution, full screen mode quite well. Thankfully the game’s settings allow you to zoom in to make the characters and landscape look a lot larger on bigger screens at the cost of seeming more pixeled.

Tangledeep allows for a customizable “roguelike” experience in that you can choose, when you start a new game, one of three modes you’d like to play in. There’s the “Heroic Mode” which is permadeath where only banked goods and town progress will be saved. “Adventure Mode”, you die, return to town, and lose half of your money, unspent job progress points, and HP progress. Then there is the “Hardcore Mode” you die, you’re “erased”, game over. This non-risk-taking gamer went the wimpy way of the Adventure Mode.

You start of by selecting one of nine available jobs (classes). Three more jobs unlock later in the game, which brings the total to twelve, for those counting along. The nine initial classes represent the basic well-known classes, though using the game’s own terms, e.g. Floramancer which is akin to a Druid. There also are jobs that reflect the paladin, warrior, martial arts, magic type classes to choose from as well. Each class has three tiers of passive bonuses that you unlock as you level. I chose a Floramancer so my Tier 2 passive is available after spending 1000+ job progress points (JP) for example. Each class also has nine job abilities. Abilities are learned (i.e. bought for JP) and when used in battle are on a turn-based cooldown timer. Your current job can also be changed in town, for a modest price.

The game is turn-based but not in a traditional, “freeze the action, show a timer, take your turn” kind of way but more of a real-time turn-based implementation. Essentially, you have as much time as you need to perform an action, which a lot of times is moving to another square. When you move, the enemy does as well. This makes for an interesting dichotomy for a pet wielding job, such as the Floramancer. If not planned properly you could end up going one way while your pet takes a different turn. Several times in dungeons I somehow ended up at opposite ends of the dungeon, several moves across from my damaging dealing floral tank pet. Not a complaint, more of an observation on how challenging the real-time turn-based movement can be.

While we’re on the topic of “movement”, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that movement was perhaps the game’s biggest frustration. Movement occurs on a grid via X-axis / Y-axis like the 16-bit games of olde. WASD and Numpad keys worked relatively well for this but if you’re a point-and-click guy like me then you’re in for some frustration. It’s not the point-and-click we’re used to in games like Diablo III. In Tangledeep clicking in one spot doesn’t mean your avatar continues until she meets your cursor. Several times it seemed like she would take a few steps and stop. It ends up turning into a multiple click scenario to get from point A to point B on a straight line. I often found myself fumbling between mouse and keyboard.

Content wise the game is, for the most part, open world without quest hubs, quest icons, gathering quests, “kill ‘x’ number of these” quests and the like. It’s just you, the heroine, pursuing to reach the surface world. The game does have a goals system (which is discussed below) that provides some foresight.

The game has many pluses and enjoyable features. One such example is the “Monster Corral”. You can catch, tame and level beasts to act as pets. You capture them by hitting them with a purchasable mallet when their health is below 15%. Then you raise them by feeding them and paying to have them groomed to increase their happiness. You can also plant magic seeds which can bloom into magic trees. Trees provide different foods, if you get tired of a tree, chop it down and gain XP and JP!

Another noteworthy feature is the “rumor system” which are tasks with conditions that once completed provide cool rewards. One early rumor I received was “Discover Spiny Maze”, seek out the maze on the second floor and discovery what lies within it, all without using any potions. The reward? A green con chest guard piece and a pack of restorative items.

Overall, Tangledeep is a very nostalgic RPG, especially in its presentation. It offers a lot of things to do while also being quite challenging. Dying in this game is not something you’re happy to see, especially as you’re trying to make your way up, floor by procedurally generated floor, only to start at the bottom again. If you’re predominately a mouse user than be prepared for some frustration but if you’re an “old-school RPGer” at heart than you should find much pleasure in Tangledeep.


SCORE: 7/10


Pros

  • Challenging
  • Compelling soundtrack
  • Real-time turn-based

Cons

  • Mouse movement can be frustrating

Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam PC with a code provided by PR.

COMPARE TO: The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past