Dungeon Hunter in Review – The hunt for Diablo on the iPhone is over!

dungeon-hunter-review-mainYou know, when Diablo first came out on the PC in 1996 it not only started a revolution in the industry, but in many lives as well. I had to go to extreme, and I do mean EXTREME lengths to play it since my home computer bailed out, screaming something about video card incompatibility (yep, those were the days before DirectX was a standard). So I had to go to a nearby computer shack and cut a deal with them. I did some minor work and in return I was allowed to play the game on one of their demo machines. How’s that for a legendary game! Honestly, looking at the overall quality of games on the “Jesus” phone I never really expected to see even a decent incarnation of Diablo-style gameplay for at least a couple more years. But Dungeon Hunter swept away my doubt…

Dungeon Hunter is a classic iteration of the Hack & Slash RPG games. As most of you probably know, these are the games where you directly control one hero and go through levels decimating enemies with weapons and spells/skills.  Some typical characteristics of this game type include: simple base stats and loads of items and skills. Does Dungeon Hunter have all this?

dungeon-hunter-review-heroesWe’ll start with the basics: characters. Dungeon Hunter features three classic characters: Warrior, Rogue and Mage. The good thing is that they not only differ in base stats, but also have completely different skill trees. Unfortunately, and probably due to platform limitations, the Rogue is not the ranged specialist s/he is in many other similar games, rather this class is a dextrous snoop. The Warrior is the classic tank who decimates multiple opponents with ease and who is capable of wearing the best armour in the game. Finally, the Mage is naturally gifted with magic and spells, relying on them to bring mayhem to the battlefield.

The base stats feature the common Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, and Energy found in some iteration or another in most RPGs. What I liked about the game is that all of the derived modifiers, like chance to dodge, resistances, and a few other stats are readily understandable.

dungeon-hunter-review-statsClosely related to the stats are the items, which come in flavours ranging from plain (white) to unique (gold). The rareness of the item defines the amount of modifiers it has; gold stats, for instance, have four. Loot gathering is very important in Hack & Slash RPGs and Dungeon Hunter is no exception. While the items have clear class specialisation (defined by the required stat), modifiers are random, so no one will stop you from equipping a mage with a dagger instead of a wand if it has better modifiers and you fulfil the requirements.

dungeon-hunter-review-itemsGood implementation of skills too are vital to a Hack ‘n Slash RPG. As I said earlier, each class has it’s own set of skills, suited for its intended style of play. Skills come in two flavours: Active and Passive. Let’s start with the Passive. These skills usually give a bonus to some derived modifier, specific to the class and will always work. Active skills on the other hand, require equipping in one of the three slots and will use mana when called upon. Active skills range from common attack skills to stealth (invisibility) for the rogue. The overall selection of 15 unique skills is broken down into batches 3 which are unlockable at every skill raise and should be enough for any critic.

dungeon-hunter-review-skillsLast but not least are the Fairies, which a little pixy dust to the mixture. You obtain them throughout the storyline and they follow you around, presenting special skills for your disposal. Any one can be called on at any time and switched. This is important since they give elemental bonuses against specific enemies. Their skills are also useful at the beginning, though I found them too weak to be effective about halfway through the game and even a boost which is given near the end did nothing to fix this. But choosing the right one to accompany you on a specific level is often the only way to survive.

dungeon-hunter-review-fairiesThe storyline is also very good, with a beautiful (and uncommon) cutscene at the beginning. The plot is logical and well played out. In order to spark some replayability it would help to have more side quests since Dungeon Hunter’s dungeons are NOT randomly generated. An additional difficulty setting would be nice as well at the end, when you are a powerful level 40, enemies die way too easily. Not sure if this is a nagging point, but when you kill a boss enemy, it is gone, even if you replay the level – kinda sad actually.

Dungeon Hunter looks amazing and on my 3G is completely lag free. One thing though: I would recommend you to restart your phone before playing, otherwise you may encounter memory related freezes. Even so, if the app freezes, you can still exit to your device’s home screen without need for a complete reboot. While the game does not get you back to the EXACT spot you were before exiting, it retains ALL exp. and items you had on exit, but will reset you to the beginning of a level. The soundtrack is great, and if you really want to, you can listen to your own music, iPod music controls included.

dungeon-hunter-review-mage-1The control scheme in Dungeon Hunter is well above par. You can choose either Hero of Sparta-like controls with an analogue stick and one attack button, or a tap-to-move-and-attack scheme. The skill buttons can also be spread out around the attack button, or bundled together and scrollable. To each his own, but I found that the analogue stick + spread out skills buttons worked best for me. One thing I really missed in the interface is the minimap. With the rather large levels, I got lost on multiple occasions and had to double back. The inventory and stats screens are very easy to navigate. Even for those who don’t enjoy the meticulous job of comparing modifiers, an auto-equip button for best items is available. Another great addition to the experience is the achievement system with on-line rankings at Gameloft Live, featuring everything from reaching a specific character level to completing a level without using skills or without killing anyone.

Starting from the character selection screen, up until the dying breath of the Queen, Dungeon Hunter is perfect. The heroes, the loot, the skills – everything is so excellent. In my opinion, Dungeon Hunter is the best game I have played at the App Store. The only thing that could make it better would be the addition of random dungeons and of course, multiplayer. Thank you Gameloft for allowing me to relive my Diablo experience on the “Jesus” phone!

With this I declare Dungeon Hunter officially touched.


App Summary
Title: Dungeon Hunter (v.1.4.0) Developer: Gameloft
Price: 6.99$ App Size: 227 MB
  • 3 characters with unique skills
  • Mountains of loot
  • Fantastic replayability
  • Splendid graphics
  • The Diablo experience
  • No minimap
  • No random dungeons
  • No multiplayer


A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well): http://twitter.com/ChiffaNe

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