Soda Dungeon is the free mobile game now released on Steam you didn’t know you needed. Now, don’t click back just yet. I know how awful that sounds and I, too, have been burned a few times by mobile games on Steam. But publisher Armor Games and Developer Afro-Ninja got their start on Newgrounds back in the day and have consistently pumped out great games. Armor Games holds a lot of water in the indie scene, and Soda Dungeon is another testament to their production of top-quality content for free.
Soda Dungeon started on mobile, released for iOS on October 7th, 2015, and Android on November 12th, 2015. The Steam release came February 7th this year. For a free game it is impressive to see no pay walls, no ads, no annoying timers, and optional purchases that I haven’t had to use yet. While some upgrades for your in-game bar are quite high, it’s more fun to play the game the way it is meant to be played instead of just dropping a wad of cash to upgrade. You may beat the game without spending a dime, but you might be tempted to pony up for developers who have gone out of their way to create a fantastic game for their customers.
Enough gushing over the developers and producers. What about the game itself?
It plays identical to its counterpart on mobile, but I enjoy it much more on my laptop. It's one of those perfect time-waster games to distract you while at work or while busy doing other stuff. I call it a “Podcast Game”, one I can play while catching up on my favorite podcasts. The controls are simple because it only uses the mouse. You may also automate the action in the dungeons. It’s been convenient for me to load up my team of adventurers with the best gear I’ve come across and send them into a dungeon while I get up from my desk and do something else. You can play it like a regular dungeon-crawling, turn-based RPG if you wish, but that’s not the point. The main draw of the game is to upgrade your soda shop with bigger and better items and additional services so that you can attract bigger and badder fighters and adventurers to collect more loot to continue to advance your soda shop. It's a vicious cycle of satisfaction.
There is also a mode called “Arena". In this, you pick three adventures and equip them with the best possible gear, then pit them against three other adventurers for ten levels to win a specific amount of gold. It's another enjoyable but low-commitment way to pass the time in Soda Dungeon.
The graphics are every ones' favorite style: pixel art. True, this is a graphical style that has become overused and tiresome, even after the downright beauty of Fate Tectonics' visuals. But it's forgiven here, as the pixel art in Soda Dungeon is fantastic. It was designed by very talented people who clearly cared about their art.
Now, as more than half the indie titles I own on Steam are all beautifully crafted with 8 or 16-bit pixel art, there are only so many times I can comment how gorgeous the style is. For those of you who are still in love with this graphics style , Soda Dungeon has you covered - it may remind you of another pixel-art great, Overture.
The music and sound in Soda Dungeon is serviceable. There is nothing either breathtaking or grating. I’m sure most people turn it off and put on something else, anyway. There is no voice acting or heavy story lines to follow, and, like I wrote above, this is a perfect podcast game.
Overall Soda Dungeon is a great game to waste time on. From upgrading your soda shop with different types of sodas (which unlock new adventurers for you to hire), to gaining additions such as a wizard and a blacksmith, or adding beds, tables, chairs, soda casks, decorations, kitchens, or a bank vault to your shop, and then seeing all this add to your soda shop's reputation, which in turn adds more funds and items for you to equip your adventurers with, so they can get you better loot, so you can get more upgrades and add-ons for your soda shop, to everything else in the game's fun cycle, the gameplay is pure gold. It sounds repetitive - and it is - but that’s not a bad thing. Soda dungeon is a niche game I can't recommend for everyone but if what I’ve said has intrigued you you should give it a try.