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A jam submission

The House 2019 7DRLView game page

You enter a haunted mansion where you believe some friends recently went missing.
Submitted by blockerz — 10 hours, 27 minutes before the deadline
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The House 2019 7DRL's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Roguelikeness#14.0004.000
Aesthetics#83.6673.667
Completeness#113.6673.667
Scope#263.0003.000
Overall#333.2783.278
Fun#582.6672.667
Innovation#622.6672.667

Ranked from 3 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Judge feedback

Judge feedback is anonymous and shown in a random order.

  • The procedural generation with the hand-drawn tiles, and the deterministic combat system were highlights of this game for me.  The numpad controls were really awkward for me, there should be an option to invert the diagonals.  Good, easy to read UI.  Exploring the floors becomes a little repetitive and leaves the player wanting.  Gameplay itself is somewhat average but the aesthetics really do it for me.

  • The most notable thing about The House is its hand drawn graphics. And these are very cool. The black and white Victorian house art has a real Edward Gorey vibe which nicely matches with the framing story. I also think that there are some interesting attempts at innovative UI design, for instance the on-character circles denoting stats like HP and ATTACK, however, they were not always successful to me. I often found myself having a hard time tracking my HP because of its small size and position on screen, and the different corner / different shade of grey scheme for differentiating HP from attack from moves was not the easiest to remember. It was very cool to see the hand-drawn tiles work together to make all sorts of different creepy rooms and hallways.

    I found the gameplay too limited to really suck me in. Rooms are mostly large and empty, monsters encountered are attacked by running into them, and there is no real strategy other than attack or run (and wait to heal). In fact, I think that having “heal over time” with no “food clock” or other time limiting element eliminates a lot of fun tension, because the best strategy becomes – kill one monster, wait for 10 turns, move on. Also, while the art for the rooms is super evocative, I didn’t feel like I encountered meaningful differences between the different levels (I made it to level 3 in my playing…despite the difficulty slider I found it difficult to make it further than that). This sameness made exploration feel less exciting than it could have. The author has made an attempt to wrap the combat and movement around a system of multiple actions – but I was never QUITE sure how this ended up working in practice. Some enemies seemed to display always having 0 moves, other enemies seemed to always have 1 move remaining, even after moving. I think the system was likely working, just that it wasn’t clear to me in what way. I also don’t know if it added the kind of strategic complexity that would have made the combat more fun. 

     My biggest wish for this game is that everything about it would have been smaller, tighter, and presented to the player more slowly. I would have loved a version of this game where the first floor had only 4 rooms, the rooms were half the size as they are now, and the only enemies encountered were bats. Then let the next floor be 5 rooms and introduce the dolls or demons. Dribble the content out, rather than dropping almost all of that in the first rooms. Finally, a note that when I played the numpad keys had reflected verticals – meaning that up went down and down went up. This made it very hard to simply play through the game.

  • Completeness - 4

    It might be that the keyboard layout is different for the dev but the diagonals on the numpad were for the opposite direction. Not sure if it is intentional or not but when going back up a floor the previous level has been reset. Everything worked as expected with no unusual results. 

    Aesthetics -  4
    Unique setting and the scribbled design is very distinct. There are lots of little touches throughout, like a table and chairs or a statue.

    Fun -  3
    I didn't really understand how the creepy dolls worked but otherwise it was quite fun to explore and see what else the levels had to offer.  The lack of randommess was a nice dynamic and allowed for some clear interactions and a lot of up front decision making. 

    Innovative -  4
    The dungeon generation was quite the stand out and felt very unique. Whilst the combat was simple it was also done in its own way and that gave the game a definable identity. 

    Scope -  3
    Having a help option is very appreciated even if it isn't particularly necessary as the game is quite intuitive.

    Roguelike - 4
    The core elements of a roguelike are all there, but the new polish and style make it feel fresh, even with the otherwise traditional approach. 

Successful or Incomplete?

Success

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Comments

Jam Judge(+1)

I really enjoyed this game.  The whole aesthetic with the grayscale hand-drawn tiles is fantastic!  Really clever way to handle the tile art and level generation.  Combat was also nice with the deterministic system, allowing the player to really strategize with no interference of that cruel RNG.  It also made stat upgrades interesting, because each one meant a concrete difference toward how the player could approach each encounter (e.g. a damage upgrade can cut the health lost to certain enemies in half by killing them a turn sooner).  Once you memorize which number applies to each stat, the UI is very easy to read at a glance.  The simple stat system works great with the deterministic combat system.  

The number pad controls were awkward for me, it's the first game I've played that uses a "telephone keypad" orientation instead of what I'm used to using on a computer keyboard or calculator.  I wasn't able to play with the number pad on my keyboard due to this.  Fortunately the expanded WASD controls were usable, but not ideal.  

When you re-enter a floor, all enemies respawn -- I don't know if this is intended or not (could very well be the spooky house you're in).  Either way, it does allow the player to re-roll the enemy layout by going back and forth between two floors (and I didn't check, but does this reset treasure chests?  could be used to farm if so).

So the biggest issue I came across is that monsters aren't visible on stairs (you can see their damage number but that's it).  I actually lost my game on level 8 because I thought combat was over and I started mashing the "wait" command to heal, but instead a bat that was hiding under the adjacent downstair poked me to death before I realized what was going on.

Overall this game was a very pleasant experience due to the hand-drawn aesthetic and the deterministic combat system  :)

Developer

Thanks for the detailed feedback. It is really appreciated! 

I added a fix for the numpad to the Post 7 DRL version. It was implemented incorrectly. I also adjusted the z-order for the enemies to try to prevent any unnecessary deaths in the future. I know how annoying it is to lose progress in a case like you described. That's too bad as I would have loved for you to see the final boss I implemented on level 10. 

I was very happy you liked the way the dungeon came together and the art style. That was a major part of my vision for the challenge. I wanted to do so much more with it but I felt I got far enough to give a feel for what I had imagined. 

You are right about the floor enemy reappearing when you move back up. This could be used in unintended ways. I did put a check in to prevent acquiring more items than your current depth allows.   

It is good to hear the deterministic combat system was well received. I thought it was fun but was looking forward to more feedback from people on it. This was also an area that I had more plans for with temporary stats buffs or debuffs but ran out of time. 

Thanks again for taking the time to review some of the completed entries for the challenge.