Picdun is a first-person dungeon-crawler with RPG elements and picross puzzle elements. Get it? Picture Dungeon. Yeah, it's definitely an ambitious game, and though there are a few annoyances overall the game's ambition is the catalyst for something special.
You start off trapped in a dungeon, and you need to find the exit. It should be said that there is not much story to speak of in this game. It's very gameplay-focused, though there are a few spots where you will come across some vague and philosophical text about a man who was once trapped in the Picdun.
Anyways, as you move from tile to tile with the d-pad, you will randomly encounter enemies and enter an action-RPG style battle. There are three types of attacks you can perform by swiping your stylus, as well as a block which can counter if timed properly. Enemies have various attack and defense patterns. You get EXP for defeating enemies and can level up periodically, increasing your HP and attack/defense. The combat is quite satisfying actually. There is a 'POW' meter which depletes every time you attack, but it refills on its own, and even faster if you give it some quick taps with the stylus. This is a solid mechanic, and adds to the strategy in battle. If you know what you're doing you can take down enemies quite handily.
Every tile you step on contributes to the picture of the dungeon. Now, it's possible to find the exit before you complete the picture, but I found it more satisfying to complete the puzzle and then grab the exit to the next floor. It gives a feeling similar to completing a Picross puzzle. There is an item somehwere in the dungeon that will tell you how many spaces left before completing the puzzle. I suggest deciding early on whether or not you'll go for completion because it is a real pain to backtrack in this game. Only every five floors is there an elevator that brings you back five floors, but then you have to find the exit again for every dungeon you've already traversed. A "floor select" option would have been very welcome.
Dungeons get more and more complex as you progress. The number of tiles increases, and the type of floor tiles gets more varied. There will be puzzles where you have to hit a switch to reveal a hidden room, or walk in a certain direction to unlock a door. Some of the hints for these puzzles are quite vague though, and I had to resort the internet for help. I think better wording in the puzzles could have gone a long way, but they are fun and satisfying for the most part. There are stronger swords and shields to discover, and these are completely optional. There is also an item that can be used to restore your health at any time.
The graphics are good, though there could be more variety in the locales. The dungeon's visual patterns don't change very often. Enemy design is solid. The music is quite peppy, but ultimately nothing special.
There is a surprising amount of content in this game. To be completely honest, I haven't finished the game - but it's taking me longer because I'm going for puzzle completion. I know I'll finish this someday because it's always fun to jump in for a floor, but getting towards the end of the game, the dungeons are tough and complex in their patterns so it takes a while to fully complete.
Overall, it's a unique little game that I quite enjoyed. It's ambitious, and at 500 Nintendo points, I think it's a great value. The gameplay is solid and the puzzle elements are satisfying. It's not a game that will blow you away, but it's enjoyable and it's a slow burn that will last you quite a while.
Yes, 10-Second Run is annoying. I don't think Escapee GO is actually part of the series. The title has to start with GO or GG, I believe. And be published by whomever publishes them, unlike Go Go Kokopolo (which looks cool).
Good review, and what an interesting game concept! It's too bad it's so difficult to backtrack, but otherwise it sounds like a cool game, especially at the price. The combat seems satisfying, and who doesn't like Picross puzzle elements?
I'll probably pick this one up later on, gotta get that massive backlog down!