Popup Dungeon comes from Triple-B studios, developer of the excellent Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages. Ring Runner was a bit of an odd duck, as it was a spaceship game with these amazing controls and the combat all felt great to play and there was a ton of customization, but it would also make the player sit through a ton of dialog and exposition every few minutes. Popup Dungeon is a completely different game, in that it makes it clear that its story is non-vital. Popup Dungeon practically says to the player “I’ll bring the tools, if you can do a little research into using them, you can write your own story and do some really cool things!”
Of course, I am reminded of something Popup Dungeon sorely needs to succeed if it wants to be a truly good ‘build your own adventure’ game – some sort of guide or wiki dedicated to helping players and creators understand all the labels and variables on all of its tools. As of now it’s kind of in the hands of the experts who built the game, which is a bummer because I’d have loved to see more custom adventures from my fellow reviewers leading up to release.
If one was playing the game with no internet connection, only playing the basic campaign with vanilla characters, I think there’s a decent shot they would be satisfied with their time spent. There are a lot of characters, from things as basic as Warrior and Cleric, all the way to Internet Troll. Each has unique weapons with their own appearance, stats, and voice effects. Players messing about with the editors can even create entire new characters with all of their own attributes.
There’s something about Popup Dungeon’s unique boxy art style and the fact I can do whatever I want if I put the time and research in, it just charms the heck out of me. It feels like literally every stat on every creature on potion and spell can be edited and fine-tuned. So sure, you can have a level 1 character take down a megadragon in one hit with a super-rad spell, or you can create a balanced campaign that actually progresses in a meaningful way.
Unfortunately I do have an issue! It seems that on the Steam Workshop, Popup Dungeon automatically manages all your items for you. This means if you download an item, Popup Dungeon will ‘Upvote’, ‘Subscribe’, and ‘Favorite’ this item for you. There’s no real explanation of this in-game, other than a simple “We manage this,” which is kind of frustrating. Personally I highly value my Steam account and I don’t ‘Upvote’ or ‘Favorite’ things lightly, so this is a major offense to me. Hopefully Triple-B can figure out some way to allow players to opt out of this system while still participating.
I feel like Popup Dungeon is really special. It’s not every day that games come along with such potential for modding and customization, and I genuinely hope that the game finds a playerbase to love and cherish it. I know I’ll be keeping an eye on its Steam Community page! I absolutely recommend Popup Dungeon.