Solomon’s Keep in review – The Keep just keeps on going…

There are times where you are looking for a deep, rewarding experience that requires a lot of dedication and play time. Then, there are times where you just want to run around and kill things, but you still want to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Solomon’s Keep fits that bill. It’s rougelike-lite, and that’s in no way a put down. The game is challenging, fun, and has lots of replayability given the random level generation and user driven skill selection. Don’t let the good but cute graphics fool you – this is a game for dungeon crawlers of all ages.

You are a wizard in training, and your final task before graduating is to infiltrate Solomon’s Keep, destroy the evil wizard that resides within, and free all his enslaved minions. It might be a good idea for you to pillage all his treasure while you’re at it. This won’t be an easy task, however, as every level of his tower is filled with nasty creatures that want nothing more than to rip you apart. You start off with some basic skeletons, but soon you’ll be fighting zombies, imps, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. And there are always variations on the theme as well. For instance, in addition to the basic skeletons you have skeletons with armor that are harder to kill, archer skeletons, skeletons that shoot blue bolts that slow you down if you get hit… and so on. There’s definitely enough variety to keep you busy.

The tower itself is divided into a series of levels whose layouts are randomly generated each time you start a new game. Some rooms contain treasure chests, almost all of them contain monsters, and several are locked once you enter and must be cleansed of monsters before you can escape. To get around the world you have two virtual joysticks – one for moving and one for shooting. This setup should feel pretty familiar to a lot of you that play action games on the iPhone, and it works quite well for this game. You pick up items and open chests just by running into them, and any special skills like teleport can be activated via a small icon on the right side of the screen. The top icon is your current attack spell, and if you have multiple you can click on it to select the one you want to use.

For stats your character simply has health and mana. You also start the game with one attack type of your choosing. As you kill creatures you’ll level up, and for each level you get to choose one skill out of a randomly selected choice of three. You can build a completely different character every time depending on the skills you choose. You’ll also collect gold from creatures and treasure chests that you can use to buy rings, staffs, and potions from the starting village. You can also upgrade skills for a cost. Killing monsters also scores you health and mana boosts sometimes, and even though both stats fill back up over time, you often can’t wait for that in the midst of battle. Pick up the boosts whenever possible.

The graphics in Solomon’s Keep are great. They have a cartoon like quality about them, yet at the same time there are some very nice details. The spell effects are wonderful, as is the lighting (which in a neat fashion comes from your staff). The coolest thing, however, is that when you have the map showing, there is no little marker showing your location. Instead, your character is that marker. Pretty creative way to intertwine the map with the game play.

The sound effects are decent as well. Some creatures like the ghosts sound really cool when they scream. My favorite part, however, is the voiceovers by Solomon as he taunts you. Even though it’s the oldest gag in the villain handbook, it always cracks me up when he goes to laugh evilly and ends up coughing. The music is well done, but it would be nice if there were a couple of different tracks that switched every few levels.

I was expecting (hoping) this would be fun, but I got a lot more than I bargained for. The combination of a dual stick shooter and a dungeon crawl is genius anyway, as proved by Catacombs, but the additional elements of randomly generated levels and variable skill trees puts the game over the top. Sure there’s no deep meaning to leveling up or complicated stats page to look at, nor are there tons of cool rare items to collect, but for what the game has it does everything pretty much right. This is one game that just keeps on giving.

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App Summary
Title: Solomon’s KeepDeveloper: Raptisoft
Reviewed Ver:1.2Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$0.99App Size:7.2 MB
  • Simple yet challenging game play
  • Randomly generated levels
  • Great graphics
  • Save system is inconvenient
  • Have to visit village to buy things
  • Not much to collect besides gold on the actual levels

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