Review: Pangeon – Nostalgia Crawl

Let’s pick up our starting equipment, gear up and head into the dungeon filled with goblins and ghosts! That’s a nostalgic start to a lot of classic dungeon crawler RPGs of the 90s. But today we are talking about Pangeon, a roguelike single player dungeon crawler inspired by classic 90s games of the genre.

Pangeon is developed by Skrypious and published by Ultimate Games S.A. In Pangeon, you choose from four different classes with unique play styles, adjust your stats and delve into the creepy dungeons to kill any monster that crosses your path. Pangeon has a short gameplay, but thanks to the different classes and harder difficulties, it is a repeatable and fun game. Pangeon relies heavily on the nostalgic nature of the genre, but nostalgia alone isn’t enough to motivate players to play the game. Pangeon tries to introduce a few new elements like random world generation and arena mode, but they don’t have a recognizable impact on the gameplay experience.

Pangeon doesn’t have much of a story. We start in a dungeon, kill monsters and go forward. We see some people and merchants on our way who tell us a little about where we are and what evil lurks in these dungeons, but it doesn’t tell us who we are, the setting of the world or why these dungeons are filled with different types of monsters. A bit of story and flavor added to the world would make the experience way more meaningful.

Pangeon NPC and Traders
NPCs and traders at the starting location of a new level

While there isn’t a strong story to back the game up, the gameplay is definitely fun. There are four different classes in Pangeon; warrior, archer, wizard and thief. Each class has a unique play style and your stats can affect your gameplay as you start and level up. There are a variety of different weapons like daggers, swords, bows and magic staves, as well as different armors and potions in the game that you can loot off enemies or buy from traders at the start of each level. Although Pangeon is short, the different options make it a repeatable experience. Harder difficulties help this repeatability as well, since they are really challenging. You need to improve your fighting skills in these difficulties to avoid enemy attacks as much as possible since they deal devastating damage.

The variety of enemies and bosses are proportionate to the duration of the game. You encounter melee and range enemies with different mechanics, and boss encounters are engaging and different in each level. Resource management is an important factor in combat as well, especially for archer and wizard classes since they can run out of arrows or mana.

There are a few mechanics of Pangeon that doesn’t seem clear and since there are no tooltips or hints explaining them. You only understand them when you play the game one or two times. For example, there are some stats on the character that might seem trivial like luck. But after a few playthroughs I realized luck affects the amount of items you might find on defeated enemies and around the world. A few small tooltips would help players understand how the game works a lot faster, but we are left to our own devices.

Pangeon Enemies
Skeleton enemies that you will encounter in Pangeon

Through multiple playthroughs, you might also notice some rooms look different in each run. It seems like there are some random world generation elements in the game, but they aren’t frequent enough to impact the whole experience. This is one of the new elements that Pangeon tries to include in the game, but it doesn’t commit to it. There are only a handful of rooms that can change in each run and it doesn’t seem significant in the gameplay.

There is also an arena mode where you will fight increasingly harder waves of enemies in a small room. You can buy equipment and potions between each wave to help you survive. This is another missed opportunity for Pangeon. The arena seems boring and not challenging enough if you know how to fight safely. There also seems to be a bug in the class selection for arena that gives you a different class from the one you chose.

In addition to its gameplay, Pangeon also recreates the graphics and music of classic dungeon crawlers. Pangeon looks and sounds like a game from early 90s and it scratches the nostalgia itch of the fans of this genre pretty nicely. The pixelated world design, twodimensional enemies that rotate with the camera, minimal but funny sound effects and nostalgic theme of the music, all add up to a nice recreation of the classic dungeon crawlers.

Overall, Pangeon would be a great game if it was released in the 90s. But for a modern game, it doesn’t have anything new to offer. Even though revisiting old classics can be fun from time to time, but nostalgia isn’t enough for these types of games. Fans of the classic dungeon crawlers could enjoy Pangeon for a few hours, but with emulators that allow us to play the original classic games, Pangeon has to compete with them too, and that’s where it falls behind.

Nima reviewed Pangeon on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.

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