Size Matters

HIGH A great balance between depth of details and the speed of each run.

LOW The text is microscopic and the game is not optimized for the Switch.

WTF Seriously, who approved this text size?

I absolutely love the Switch for a hundred different reasons, and one of the biggest is that many PC games that never make it to the Xbox or PlayStation can often be found on the eShop. This is a fantastic trend that I’m absolutely in favor of, but what’s not fantastic is when they’re brought to Nintendo’s handheld without the proper time and effort put into making them comfortable to play. Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager, sadly, falls into this category.

Legend of Keepers is a 2D pixel-based roguelike which puts the player in the role of a dungeon master who must defend his treasure from pillaging heroes. Each dungeon is divided into several rooms. Before a run starts, the player is given a random assortment of monsters and traps, and they must choose which ones to place in each room.

Heroes come in teams of three, and when they enter the dungeon, action happens in turn-based fashion, room by room. For example, the first room might have three monsters posted there by the player. These skeletons, orcs, harpies (and more!) will duke it out with incoming heroes using physical attacks, elemental spells and status ailments. If any of the heroes survive (and they likely will) they’ll move on to the next room which might be a trap, a giant monster, an anti-hero magic spell or something else.

Essentially, the player wants to wear the heroes down by any means necessary and eventually end them before they get to the final room holding the player’s boss character — the last line of defense — and the treasure.

After defending each dungeon, the player goes to a menu screen where they must choose between randomly-generated events before the next skirmish. Some of them are positive, some are negative, and some offer opportunities to increase the stats of the player’s monsters, traps and boss character. Many of these events are fairly humorous (should I feed my troops with questionably-sourced human thighs if it saves me a ton of cash?) and this kind of management is a good break from the fights.

After a campaign is completed (usually around 30 or 40 rounds, it’s a pretty fast play) the player can increase the stats of their boss and the next run will re-roll a fresh batch of monsters and traps to keep everything feeling fresh and interesting. Overall, this is a great formula for a roguelike. It’s simple to grasp (even though the tutorials leave much to be desired) the pixel-based artwork is well-detailed and full of character, the time commitment for a satisfying session is mercifully short, and there’s a good amount of persistence to give players meta-goals – things like earning new rooms for the dungeons or unlocking new monsters and bosses.

Based on what I’ve said about Legend of Keepers so far, it’s on track to be one of the better roguelikes to hit the Switch and I would be more than happy to give it a solid recommendation. However, there is an issue – as I alluded to in the opening paragraph, this originally-on-PC title hasn’t been effectively adapted for the Switch.

I’m sure Legend of Keepers looks just fine on a big PC monitor when a developer is sitting with their face just a few inches away, but they’ve done a miserable job of reworking the game to take best advantage of the Switch screen’s available real estate. The size of the text is more appropriate for ants than humans, and it is exhausting to the eyes to have to squint and strain to read various stats and abilities, all of which are all important. No joke, I had to get out an actual magnifying glass to be able to see the screen comfortably and that is not an exaggeration.

This isn’t a problem with the Switch itself. There have been plenty of PC ports which came out just fine, offering easily-readable text and graphics that are sized properly for the handheld. It can be done, and has been. Not in this case, though. Despite the fact that I think Legend of Keepers is quite enjoyable and generally well-designed, I find it tough to play comfortably in handheld mode and docked mode is little better. I desperately implore the developers to go back and patch in some changes because if it wasn’t for those issues, I would have no trouble recommending this title to any roguelike fan.

Honestly, this port is an absolute shame. The graphics and text are just too small, and I have a hard time imagining anyone taking an honest look at this and feeling like it was acceptable. But putting that significant issue aside? Legend of Keepers: Career Of A Dungeon Manager is a well-done roguelike that could easily rank among the genre’s best on Switch once it’s received a proper adaptation to the platform.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Goblinz Studio. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and several runs were completed, but the game was not 100% completed with all characters. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore and Violence. The official ESRB description reads as follows: This a role-playing strategy game in which players assume the role of a dungeon master protecting dungeons from invading heroes. From a side-scrolling perspective, players control traps and monsters to defeat heroes in turn-based combat. Players choose various attacks (e.g., weapon strikes, magic spells) to kill enemies. Blood-splatter effects occur as characters are killed, and blood stains appear in the environment. Some attacks result in decapitation and/or characters exploding into fragments. Dungeons may contain severed heads on pikes and dismembered corpses, often amid blood pools. Still-image sequences depict monsters consuming severed body parts; one image depicts a cook holding a severed leg, with dismembered human corpses in the background.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All information comes to the player via TINY TEXT which is difficult to read. There are no audio cues needed for play. 100% of my time was spent with the game on mute and I had no issues other than severe eyestrain.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. A is used to confirm, B to cancel. The d-pad is used to select things on screen. The shoulder and bumper buttons are used to bring up various menus.  

Brad Gallaway
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