I love mmos. It may surprise you given my opinion of Destiny 2 (click here for more on that), but if an mmo sells itself as such I’ve no problem with it. If anything they are a greatly different type of game entirely and free to play ones can be absolutely astounding. They have to get the balance right between grind and fun but if they nail it you can get some serious mileage, is Happy Dungeons one of those gems? Pretty much yes but it’s not a diamond, more a nice Pearl.
There was once a little known free to play game on the 360 called happy wars. It was fun, quirky but flawed with the microeconomics making the pvp focused game too heavily tipped to purchasing victories. That and the net code was a bit iffy, seems Toylogic learnt?
I’ve always been curious how you go about reviewing a free to play game. Reviews are typically based upon the writers own take on whether a game is good or bad but essentially they are saying “is this game worth the time and money”. A free to play game technically costs nothing but is it worth your time? Or is it just a grind for your time to take your money? Happy Dungeons is thankfully neither of these things.
Lots of questions so let’s start with the basics. Happy Dungeon is a small mmorpg in the style of Phantasy Star Online/Monster Hunter, where each instance is a separated encounter. You start with a menu, buddy up with strangers or friends and then take on either story missions, infinite dungeons or special timed events.
The story is pretty good given it’s aesthetic. Happy Dungeons doesn’t take itself too seriously with almost a despicable me feel to it’s silliness throughout and it’s sort of endearing for it. Clearly aimed at kids and a younger market but not too slapstick. From the way the bobble headed characters move to the music that sounds right out of Minions, the theme of fun runs through.
Combat is both satisfying and grating with a real mixed bag of genius and frustration. You chose from three classes; Warrior, Cleric and Mage. The warrior essentially a button masher with elements of a classic paladin thrown in at later levels easily becomes the most mindless after a few waves of enemies. The cleric is fairly standard to, buffs, heals and very little else making solo play a challenge. The mage is an overpowered juggernaut with little armour or health, this is where I found myself soloing 90% of the time. It was the most enjoyable to time spells with the groups of enemies but it felt a little lacking when stronger enemies were a harder challenge than giant boss fights.
Visually the games not amazing and sadly that’s being charitable. It’s style of almost sackboy but more cartoon works fine and the equipment design is lovely but the whole game has a sort of blur, fuzziness that doesn’t lend itself to the tiny units and detailed items. Also as much as I love the sims-esque garbled sounds the characters make the game desperately needs more music. After an hour you’ve heard all it has to offer and that’s a real shame as what it has is of a real high standard.
Surprisingly there isn’t that much benefit to paying for the currency with real money in Happy Dungeons. There’s cash which is essentially just coal for the upgrading equipment fire (where you feed equipment and minions spares and pay to level up) and Gems which you use as the premium currency to buy packs with rare loot or system benefits such as more character slots or inventory space. What’s surprised me the most about Happy Dungeon is how balanced that feels and a lot more geared to grinding than purchasing of gems. Quests change daily and daily login bonuses and events boost the basic completions to the point where purchasing seems redundant.
Essentially your reading this now trying to decide if it’s worth your time or not. Is it going to be fun? The answer is simply yes with a large But (and not the fun kind). It’s fun in short stints, it is essentially a really good mobile game but one you only really want to play for 20mins a day and then switch off. Any more than that and it’s less Happy Dungeons more Annoying Tediums.
6/10 – Not quite happy enough