Come on, guys. It's like you're not even trying.
What do you get when you stick a thief, a knight, and a pointy-hat wearing wizard in a less-than-spectacular dungeon crawler? The 18th Gate. Circle Entertainment’s attempt at a puzzle/strategy RPG is hard to control, confusing and not very fun in the least. In each of the, you guessed it, 18 levels, players simultaneously take control of all three characters as they try not to die. The goal of each level sounds pretty simple: at least one character must reach the level’s portal exit within a certain number of turns. Unfortunately I can assure you, it’s not so simple.
The opening level alone can divert players from logging even 15 minutes into the game. The tutorial is too long and confusing. The text scrolls along so slowly, I was able to read the entire thing twice on my first try. Unfortunately, that didn’t really help my actual understanding of how to play the game. The tutorial failed to explain half of the buttons on the touch screen. Each of the characters is equipped with four unique abilities, though I couldn’t tell you their names or effects if I tried. I just selected them when the opportunity arose. After making it through the first level the following two or three levels are pretty fun. Manageable enemies and obstacles separate the characters from a portal and it’s easy enough to slash through in a few minutes. After level 4 the game takes a nose dive.
The game randomly generates the maps you play on, and sometimes creates some pretty intricate areas. None of that really matters when the characters can only see one square in front of them on a board that has easily over 200 squares. These characters can barely see ahead, let alone defend themselves. With higher leveled monsters, and less turns to reach your goal, the difficulty of the game increases greatly with each round, and not in a good way. With most level-based RPGs, players can train certain units more so they can keep up with the increasing difficulty of the game. In The 18th Gate, you barely have enough time to trek across the field, let alone spend 5 turns battling a walking skeleton.
Masquerading as an RPG, this puzzle/strategy game makes me want to never play a dungeon crawler ever again. With only 18 stages, the game wastes little time before throwing you into the deep end. I had to sacrifice a few rounds each level to learn what a button did or why the screen was moving all over the place. Also, not letting units wait out a turn or two instead of throwing them into a pit full of monsters kind of irked me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge. This just wasn’t any fun at all. With lackluster gameplay, grueling maps accompanied by enemies that are just cheap, and no real replay value, this game will not appeal to many.