Happy Dungeons is a simplistic dungeon crawling hack and slasher which also happens to be a free-to-play title. It's got both online and offline co-op, loot, and a load of different upgrade systems. It'll keep you busy if you find the combat sufficiently entertaining, but as is the case with many a free-to-play release, proceedings can become a grind if you're unwilling to dish out some real world dosh.
After a brief tutorial section that covers the basics of gameplay, Happy Dungeons ushers you into its story-based set of missions. There's a daft overarching narrative here which deals with kidnapped princesses and goblins, but as you'd expect, it's secondary to the action. That said, the plot does have its charming moments, usually when its style of bumbling comedy is enough to make you crack a smile.
The title wastes no time in introducing you to its combat, which mostly sees you take on waves of foes. With three playable character classes to choose from, there is a little bit of depth here -- especially when you consider customisable skill sets -- but for the most part, you won't have to dig too deep to find success on the battlefield. Generally speaking, Happy Dungeons isn't a difficult game: generic opponents go down in a couple of clean hits, while bosses can be dispatched with relative ease as long as you stay away from their clearly telegraphed attacks.
This is where the harder difficulty settings enter the equation. A dungeon crawler at its core, the title wants you to grind, acquire better equipment, level up, and repeat. When things get too easy, you crank the difficulty up and keep pushing. As such, there's no defined end to Happy Dungeons, even after you've seen the main story through, but that doesn't stop repetition from seeping into the experience over time.
The main issue here is that the dungeons themselves aren't all that engaging. Many consist of small environments that are pieced together by loading screens, and although some do throw a few extras into the mix -- traps, mazes, dead ends full of loot, that sort of thing -- they're still dull when you're not knee-deep in battle.
Fortunately, adventuring as a party does add some much needed spice to proceedings. The game automatically hooks you up with other players before each mission, and barrelling through dungeons as a group keeps things feeling a lot more lively. This is partly down to skills and abilities that can be used cooperatively, paving the way for some clever team-based play. Again, it's pretty simplistic stuff, but it's fun with the right people fighting by your side.
Of course, where there's success there's loot, and Happy Dungeons is, er, happy to reward those who invest their time. New weapons and armour drop on a regular basis, and you can sacrifice unwanted equipment to power up the gear that you're using. It's a progression system that loops back into itself, but thanks to bloated menus, the process of actually enhancing your equipment can feel unnecessarily convoluted.
Indeed, the game's quirky presentation does come undone at times. The main menu is packed with information, with inventories, character profiles, mission logs, daily developer announcements, and storefronts all vying for your attention on a single screen. In contrast to the accessible gameplay, it's all incredibly overbearing.
Speaking of storefronts, Happy Dungeons offers what are essentially loot boxes for real world cash. These boxes carry a good chance of granting rare gear, meaning that if you're willing to spend, you can quickly and significantly boost the power of your characters. Does this make the game pay-to-win? Not quite -- you can still grind your way through every challenge that the title throws at you, but if you want to tackle the game's toughest missions, you will, unsurprisingly. need to invest a lot of time, all while butting heads with repetitive dungeon design.
Happy Dungeons is worth a download. Its quirky style and accessibility make it a good on-and-off experience -- especially with a few friends by your side -- but weak dungeon design and poor presentation holds it back from being anything more than that.