Dungeon Clawler is a roguelike game with a claw machine that is as frustrating and more frustrating as it sounds


Let me tell you something, dear reader – I am not a lucky person. When I play a roguelike, TTRPG or TCG, I will always be thrown into the grind by fate itself. Poor card draw, low RNG rolls, and a tendency to always roll a natural 20 on things that don’t matter before running into a small 4 when the world is at stake.

So when I took Dungeon Clawler— “rougelike claw machine” — after its appearance at Steam Next Fest last week, I expected to be frustrated, and let me tell you: yes, I was. But with that frustration came the inevitable desire to keep putting nickels into the proverbial machine.

- Advertisement -

Dungeon Clawler plays like most roguelike deck-building games, but instead of building a deck, you add to a pool of items that fall into a claw machine. Your actions in a given turn depend on what items the claw picks up.

If you’re wondering whether this means that twists and turns are possible where your intended actions cruelly slip away from your clumsy, metallic fingers, you’re absolutely right. However, you may also have corners where you get lucky and get a flood of sword swings. Pure, unashamed RNG in this case is both a major source of frustration and a dopamine hit straight to the central nervous system. In other words, it’s a solid idea for a roguelike.

There is also a counterattack. For example, the size of an object will determine how annoying it will be to pick it up – on the other hand, it will give your claws more to bite. The strength-based design I was using focused on daggers and clips, and while I sometimes hooked enough rewards to chew through my enemies, just as often I watched my claw inexplicably leak out of the trestles and shins, leaving me meekly scoring 5 block as some idiot.

Really, the biggest thing holding Dungeon Clawler back is the feel of the game. While the soundtrack is quite energetic, the demo lacks a polished sound design that would do a really good job of selling the mechanical ups and downs going on under the hood.

I’m inclined to give it a pass, though, given that this is a “super early alpha” demo – and as far as proof-of-concept goes, it shows enough of what’s fresh that I’ll be returning to the arcade for another pull soon.

Related articles