With a cute stylized look and a lot of positive reinforcement for every single thing you do, it’s hard not to feel happy while playing Dungeon Boss. But after the third time you load it up you'll realize nothing is really changing and all you are really doing is just repeating the same mundane taps.
Who’s the boss?
The main action of Dungeon Boss revolves around the turn-based combat of games like Final Fantasy or, more recently, Angry Birds Epic. You team of three characters take it in turns to hit/shot/magic/smash the opposition, then they hit/shot/magic/smash you back. Every action is simply selected from convenient and clearly marked buttons, with targets similarly selected with a quick tap.
Levels move you through a selection of stages, each offering different enemies to smash before culminating in a boss battle. You must to decide when to unleash your squad’s attacks and special abilities. Additional powers include healing spells, armor buffs, and straight out physical attacks, but need to be used with care as they have to recharge before they can be used again - do not waste one just before entering a boss fight.
While the combat is fairly simplistic, depth is added through timing, squad selection, and fighter’s elemental type. Yes, fighters all have different element affinities, so you will want your water sumo attacking their fire-type skeleton. None of this is too complicated, but on later levels it does add a little thought to the otherwise mindlessly action.
These elemental types, powers, and squad tactics drive the free-to-play elements. At your home base you can customize your squad. This has you paying one of three currency’s to acquire chests for upgrade materials, new characters, etc. At first this seems fine but after an hour or two you hit that inevitable wall to entice you to pay. Suddenly, you cannot get by with what you have as you find yourself missing elemental powers that are strong against the dungeon's beasts. This makes the only way to progress to grind earlier levels or pay.
This is part of Boss Dungeon's odd juxtaposition. It has this cute art style with every character looking adorably deformed and blocky, making it feel perfect for a younger audience. But then you are faced with seemingly dozens of currencies, things to buy, and timers. This has long been the way of free-to-play games of course, here though the game's style and business model clash more harshly than in games like Kritika.
Like a boss
It’s hard not to enjoy Dungeon Boss. The cute aesthetics, fanfares, rewards, leveling-up, victories - there is a constant satisfying loop of positive reinforcement that distracts you from the simplicity of the basic gameplay because - even when it gets hard - the solution always feels just there, providing you are happy to pay. So yes, it’s fun for a while but ultimately a forgettable game that will only serve to distract you for a few hours.