It’s not too often that you run into a well-done tribute piece. Scarlett’s Dungeon is by no means perfect, however, it has enough to keep you entertained for a brief period.
You, a ten-year-old girl named Scarlett, must save the villagers of Palette Town from the ruthless God Lord of this universe. To do this, you must travel to the 15th floor of a procedurally generated dungeon and fight the creatures that dwell within.
The gameplay holds a strong semblance of the original Legend of Zelda, right down to the pot-smashing for coins. That being said, it’s rather simple. Your abilities amount to swinging a sword and dashing around the rooms of the dungeon. It’s a small selection, but for a game of this size feels just right for combat and traversing the environment. Slash and dash are the way to go, and it works well for Scarlett’s Dungeon.
As you progress and collect gold you can use your handy-dandy escape rope to return to Palette Town and upgrade your gear and take in the gorgeous pixel art scenery.
With every floor of the dungeon, the enemies get just a little harder. Every fifth floor you must put your brawn to the test and take on a boss fight. This is the only time you can’t use your escape rope, obviously.
The gameplay feels like Legend of Zelda, but the graphics hit me hard with obvious inspiration from Pokémon. I was a much bigger fan of Pokémon than I was of Zelda growing up, so the hints and nods at the Pokémon series were a good dose of nostalgia.
Adding the final piece to the throwback puzzle, the soundtrack brings the retro feel full circle. The arcade music for Scarlett’s Dungeon adds intensity and drama to the fun world of the game.
Scarlett’s Dungeon is fairly simple as a game with minimal content and not much available to develop your character. That’s not a bad thing, given the price matches the quality and measure of content. Scarlett’s Dungeon offers a lot of fun and challenge for the price of two items from a Dollar Tree. I couldn’t think of a better analogy off the cuff, my bad.
I’ve come across a couple of glitches and bugs during my time playing, some of which more game breaking than others. The town music would play in the dungeon areas, enemies would spawn in the dark areas of the map and one time the camera was fixed in one place, rending anything of Scarlett’s movements unseeable. One thing to keep in mind is that this game was created by one lone developer. A 20-year-old college student with a passion for game development. As a college student myself, I can sympathize with the struggles and how that could have affected the overall performance of Scarlett’s Dungeon.
Even though it is fun, engaging and even pretty challenging, it’s not a game that I’m dying to get back into. It comes off as more of a novelty title that I can come to when I’m bored or just need a break from another game.
Though a brief game, Scarlett’s Dungeon holds its own as a worthy homage to the humble beginnings of The Legend of Zelda.
Scarlett’s Dungeon is available on Steam with a 40% discount for its first week of being released.