Dungeon Gambit Boy is an indie 8-bit arcade “live-die-repeat” platformer. Taking its aesthetics from the 80’s arcade, Dungeon Gambit Boy follows the example of recent similar releases such as Super Meat Boy or Trap Adventure 2. However, unlike Trap Adventure 2, there are no funny explanations for deaths. You just die, over and over again, with each death leading you further and further away from your humanity and leaving you a shell of the person you once were. Like any addiction, though, it keeps you coming back for more, and not in a good way.
The game offers three chapters, each with more than 30 short levels to navigate. All things considered, it sounds like a pretty easy proposition, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You will play levels 19 and 30 of Chapter One far too many times before you get to the point where you pull out your fingernails in frustration. The rest of the levels range from a handful of attempts to 18 years in real time. The titular Gambit Boy plays like an ice-skating sleepwalker, almost sliding of his own free will, which is an added concern when you arrive at the levels containing ice floors. The character must jump over fiery pits and turrets firing at intervals to save the village prisoners and make it to the end of the stage. Unfortunately, and stupidly, Gambit Boy often either doesn’t react to the key input or slips off the edge of a platform through no fault of my own. I found myself pouring almost an hour into the game before I wanted to rip my hair out and smash my keyboard over my knee. The obstacles are a mixture of fire, lasers, turrets and unstable platforms; just add brimstone and you’ve got a picturesque reimagining of Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell.
When restarting after a death, the camera quickly sweeps from where you died to the beginning of the stage. After 30 continuous deaths, the gut-wrenching feeling of motion sickness completely envelops your being. The color palette is washed out, with rare use of primary and complementary colors, exchanged for brown, green and dark purple. The music is rather forgettable (by no fault of its own), as this game’s biggest issue is the sound/sound design. The sounds from the turrets, the sound effects when you jump, and the atmospheric sound design are all completely subpar, from a creative and game design point of view. I tend to play games like this with the sound off after a while as it doesn’t add much to the overall experience, so when I heard jumping sound effects even though I’d turned the sound off in the game’s settings, the violent, psychopathic rage began to erupt. Whether it was lazy programming or a bug in the SFX code, that was the final straw for a game that has really destroyed every part of my sanity.
Dungeon Gambit Boy will cost you US$5. If you are a masochist who likes to be driven to the brink of insanity, then by all means. Otherwise, I’d skip this one if you wish to remain a mentally and physically healthy human being.
This article was originally published on Doublejump.