This Nintendo 3DS eShop RPG is an old-school dungeon crawler that delights and frustrates.
Despite the genre’s age, dungeon crawlers are still popular in this day and age, mostly thanks to games like Etrian Odyssey. However, not all dungeon crawlers are as friendly, especially games like Dungeon Master that focused more on menus and item organization. The Keep, a new Nintendo 3DS eShop game, is more like Dungeon Master and pushes that style as far as it can.
If you’re unfamiliar with dungeon crawlers, the primary controls might seem obtuse. Fortunately, different control schemes alleviate this issue. You can use the Circle Pad, D-pad, or touch screen, all depending on your style, while you explore the environments looking for items and attacking enemies. It’s tough at first, but fortunately the mechanics are explained well. There is a great deal of action in The Keep, but the pacing is more akin to a strategy game in spots, making for a nice change of pace.
The biggest challenge is the way you attack. You perform attacks on a grid-based field on the touch screen and swipe at various angles to attack enemies. You can only do this within certain borders because you also have to keep an eye on a stamina bar that drains quite fast. The room for error is tiny and if you don't have of an idea of what you’re doing, you can quickly get lost. It’s integral to plan ahead with the right equipment when you’re exploring dungeons. The Keep keeps you on your toes throughout and making it to the end is a challenging test of patience and strategy.
Part of that challenge comes from equipping the right gear and stocking up on the correct items. This can prove irritating because equipping anything using the menu system is confusing and time consuming. While the menus are inoffensive on their own, they aren’t very helpful when changes are needed on the fly. Elements of the HUD are too small and it’s just not intuitive to make quick switches.
The Keep features a crisp and clear presentation with a story guided by genuinely good voice acting. It is gritty, putting you in the right mindset for this dark adventure. The story features a silly cliché here and there, but it moves forward at a nice pace.
Even with its difficulty, The Keep is insanely well put together and really requires you to think about your every move. It has enough tricks up its sleeve for the seven hours that it lasts and your only true friend is the save button. While you can level up your character as much as you want, you’ll just keep getting stomped until you expertly manage the strategy and quirks of The Keep. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re hankering for a good old-fashioned dungeon crawler, it’s a Nintendo 3DS eShop game worth checking out.