Famaze is a unique, casual sort of dungeon crawler that borders on being strategy and planning. There are two halves of the game, the top and bottom. The lower half shows a 2D side view of you and everything around you. The top shows the mini map. This map is what you’ll really be paying attention to. You move north, south, east and west by moving up, down, left and right. This is why I say you’ll be paying attention tot he map, because the bottom of the screen is a 2D side view of the action. Right and left on the side view isn’t always east and west on the map. So if you’re pushing left looking at the bottom of the screen and you can’t head west on the map, you won’t go anywhere. The object of the game is to find the key and get to the locked door. There are a certain amount of randomly generated mazes to get through, where you then see your statistics and get an ending. Its not about the finish though, its about the journey. With the randomly generated mazes, every play through is different. Every death means a new dungeon to explore.
The map is a maze of hallways, with no rooms. On the map you see the halls, walls, your location, enemies in red, items in dark blue, rutabagas in sky blue, treasures in yellow and sleeping enemies are dark red. You can see these things a certain distance away from you so you can plan to avoid things accordingly. Some enemies will move, but treasures, rutabagas and items will not. Your map starts out dark, but the more you explore, the more of the map gets uncovered.
These enemies are easy, you don’t fight them so much as bump into them with you both dealing damage to one another. To fight, just walk in their direction on the map. Its that easy. You can stand in front of a foe without them attacking. There are a variety of enemies with different habits. Purple slimes will blot out some of your explored map. Skeletons will rise up after you walk by them. Ghosts will steal your items. Wizards will chase after you. Cycloptic floating heads are asleep in the dark until you light up an area near them, then they’ll wake. There are of course standard attackers like paroling spiders, goblins and the more difficult fat red trolls. You can run from most enemies without them following you.
When you start the game, you select from three classes. The knight starts with a health potion and can use a charge attack. The thief can see and disarm traps, and has a teleport potion to almost completely avoid combat. The wizard can transmute an item and has a powerful fireball. This fireball plows through enemies on your map. Even enemies that you’re not fighting, the fireball travels straight down the hallway destroying lesser foes in its path. Its effective, to make up for the wizard’s low attack power. The only problem is that the fireball counts as an item and can only get used once before its gone.
You can get XP from defeating enemies and lighting torches in order to level up and make combat easier. The torches lit are worth far more XP than enemies you defeat. After the first level, its difficult to increase XP, so it becomes worthless in my opinion.
There are no weapons or armor. You have what you have from start to finish, so this isn’t a traditional dungeon crawler. Less micro management makes it easier for casual players. Instead, it is the items that mix up the game. You can hold two items at a time, to use them, hit the number keys. Potions refill your health. Flares light up a small part of the map while killing nearby enemies and turning distant ones into rutabagas. Even if an enemy walks into the light, they will transform. A teleport potion will let you transport yourself to anywhere on the mini map in the upper half of the screen, but not the full map. The key counts as an item, so it takes up a slot in your inventory to make things more interesting. There are several items and objects littered through a maze. Dare I say almost an item for every enemy depending on the map.
Along the way through each maze, you’ll find all these items, but you’ll also find torches, lights or lanterns. Whatever they are, when you light them up, the map around the area brightens up. Much like a flare, but a larger size. So active enemies turn into rutabagas, cycloptic heads wake up and traps now show up on your map. That’s right, Famaze has traps, so if you spend your time completely avoiding enemies and running from them, eventually, you’ll find hidden traps. These traps only damage you and without the light from a stationary torch or a flare, you won’t see them.
The entire story revolves around the rutabagas, the mad king has turned them all into monsters, and you need to turn them back. So the real object is to hit lights, that turn the enemies into rutabagas and then collect them. These rutabegas give you health for touching them, so it leads me to believe, you’re actually eating them. Eating the things you’re trying to save. It is probably a lot easier to transport them in your stomach than to carry them in a sack. It doesn’t matter though, it all goes to statistics at the end of each level and the end of each game.
As for the treasures, they are nothing more than a score at the end of each level and I’m sure add up to more at the end of each play through. You’ll find standard treasures and treasure chests. Sometimes the chests contain more gold for your score, other times its spikes. Risk and reward. There are even health floor tiles that refill your energy just once and teleportation tiles that send you to a different part of the map. These all blend together to make the game more interesting and engaging beyond what I find in deeper less casual dungeon crawlers.
Also in the maze are seven collectable artifacts. I’m not sure if all seven are in each play through, but I was able to find the first two on my first play through. Then I found the rest in following play throughs. I think it is a way to extend the life of what is an hour long game. On top of that, you unlock a harder difficulty after completing the default quest.
Between each level you’ll see a random charming scene over your treasure and rutabaga score. Its a nice addition to what could have just been a score screen.
The lower half has a great 8-bit art style. Charming sprites without much animation. As the game progresses and you go maze to maze, the backgrounds and music both change. New enemies get thrown in, so I feel like there’s a good sense of progression. The music itself is good and fits into a dark chip tune feel of wandering through a dungeon. Yet, the music doesn’t loop it just stops until you find the key. Maybe less is more, but I wish the music would loop or something.
Now for the downsides. The game is vertical since it has a top and bottom half. I feel like its meant for a smart phone and not a computer screen. Double clicking the game will make it full screen windowed, but it does nothing for the resolution. Its just a black screen with the game in the center. The game has no mouse or native controller support. I’d much rather play the game with a controller especially with how simple it is.
With everything said, I can recommend it. Maybe its not for hardcore dungeon crawler fans since it feels more like a strategy, but people that want an easy little pick up and play game that strays from the norm. While its a charming, easy to play game, I don’t think there’s enough fun here to keep me in it for that long. It would be the perfect game for a phone.