Gameloft has taken the wraps off of the fourth iteration in its Dungeon Hunter franchise, and it doesn't disappoint as a worthy successor to the first three. The franchise is a top-down hack-and-slash game, but just leaving the description at that sells it a little short. There's also an extremely expansive RPG component to the game, with character management, skills, upgradable weapons, item crafting, quests and so much more.
The depth of content available in games on mobile platforms is baffling, and the experience provided in Dungeon Hunter 4 is a great example of this. Hang with us after the break and learn more about what Dungeon Hunter 4 has to offer.
Dungeon Hunter 4 is set in a mythical land of sorcery, demons and over the top battles for entire regions of the fictional world. You start out the game with a nice cinematic introduction to give you a nice primer of the storyline, which is important for an RPG that you'll be spending lots of time in. You then select one of four classes -- Battleworn, Blademaster, Warmage or Sentinel -- as well as their gender and name. You can run multiple characters at once, going in different directions with each if you prefer. In typical RPG fashion, your character starts at level 1 with a minimal set of gear and stats.
Another nice cinematic cut scene leads you into your first level where you're instantly thrown into some action. Battling your way through some easy to defeat demons, you're given nice tutorials every time a new thing happens in the game. For example when you receive a new spell, you're guided into your character pane to enable the spell and drag it into the action bar. When you pick up a new piece of gear, you're again given steps to equip and upgrade it and sell the old item you're no longer using. Along the way you're also greeted by allies, which help lead you through the storyline with dialogue and cut scenes.
The main control scheme in Dungeon Hunter 4 is what you'd expect for this type of game. You get a single joystick on the left, along with a main attack button on the right and special ability and spell buttons around both. Across the top of the screen you have a character pane on the left showing your picture, health, mana and level, as well as a mini map on the right. Because you have no control over the camera angle in the game (with just one joystick), the map becomes extremely important to getting your bearings as you move along through levels. You get green and red dots to show allies and enemies around you, as well as indicators of loot to be picked up and waypoints for upcoming objectives. It takes a couple of levels to be completely acquainted with the controls -- and much longer to understand every function of the game -- but the hand-holding is almost necessary and we're glad it's there.
After your brief introductory period to the game, you're let off on your own to start killing the demons and protecting your allies in the search to complete your objectives. The gameplay is good -- scratch that, great -- and appropriately keeps in mind the limitations of controls on a mobile device. You are never expected to make precise attacks or individually target certain enemies, which helps keep the game moving. That's not to say that Dungeon Hunter 4 is simple, it can get quite difficult, but it is just appropriately designed keeping in mind touchscreen controls. There are still important decisions to be made about which spell to use at what time, and where to move on through the level next.
The graphics, sounds and voice acting are quite high quality for mobile devices as well, which help along the storyline and keep you feeling like you're progressing through the game. As we said, this feels like a complete RPG experience due to the depth of content available. Aside from the great single player experience, Dungeon Hunter 4 also includes multiplayer co-op and PVP both online and on local networks, right from the main menu. This gives pretty extensive replay value to the game, even if you happen to get through the single player storyline.
Being a free game with no ads, there is of course an in-app purchase situation at play here. In order to make some item purchases in the game and speed up the progress of upgrading and crafting items, gems must be used. As you progress through the game you come across gems naturally but at some point you will be faced with a situation where you would really like to have more than you do -- and this is where the store comes in. Buying bundles of 200 to 15,100 gems will set you back anywhere from $1.99 to $99.99 in-game (you get bonus gems when you purchase large amounts). Like it or not, this is the way many mobile games are going. While it may not be an issue for most playing exclusively in single player mode, it may rub some multiplayer enthusiasts the wrong way.
But there's no reason to let the in-app purchases have you down on this game in any way. Dungeon Hunter 4 provides an excellent gaming experience -- even on a phone-sized display -- that you can get hours upon hours of gameplay out of. Gameloft has made a more than worthy successor to the previous three Dungeon Hunter titles this time around, and has done it in a free-to-play model that exposes it to as many players as possible.