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May 2021

Tunnel Of Doom

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Developer: Antti Vaihia
Release Date: Q2 2021


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Switch/XOne/PC Preview - 'Tunnel of Doom'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 4, 2021 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Tunnel Of Doom is an easy-to-pick-up action rogue-lite that combines real-time tower defense with melee and ranged combat gameplay.

In Tunnel of Doom, players take on the role of Angel, the wife of a miner. A horrible disaster occurred at the mine, causing her husband to be sealed inside. She won't stand idly by, so she breaks into the mine to discover that the "horrible disaster" was the emergence of a bunch of goblins when the miners accidentally broke into their home. Angel must fight her way through the hordes of monsters to find her husband and get him out alive.

On the surface, Tunnel of Doom looks like Binding of Isaac or similar isometric roguelikes. You move from room to room, with each room being randomly generated with its own layout, potential for battles, and loot. The biggest difference from Binding is that this isn't a twin-stick shooter. Instead, you begin with only access to a pickax and a six-shooter with limited ammo. To survive, you have to gather resources from the environment in the time-honored Minecraft method of smacking objects repeatedly with your pickax to gather wood, glass and stone. Each gathered item can be used as a weapon, but it uses up your supply. Wood is a better melee weapon than the pickax, while glass and stone can do ranged damage. However, this should be a last resort because the true purpose of these materials is building.

Tunnel of Doom adds some tower defense to its roguelike-Minecraft gameplay. Using your gathered materials, you can create traps and barriers to halt the goblins' advances. Wood and stone can be used to block enemy movement, glass can be scattered as a damaging trap, and so on. You also have cannons that automatically fire at enemies but use up your resources, so they're useful but costly methods of defense. You have time before each battle to set up the traps for maximum effectiveness, and that's a key part of success.

Each environment is randomly generated and has a variety of natural defenses that you can use — or that can be used against you. Goblins are vulnerable to light, so if you base your defenses around lamps and lanterns in the environment, you can damage goblins as they approach you. Bats, rats and spiders populate the mines, and while they aren't friendly to Angel, they're also attack the monsters when they're within proximity. Luring an enemy to a spider-nest often causes them to do your work for you, assuming you don't get hit yourself. There are also pools of water or lit braziers to which special cannons can be affixed for special attacks. Any traps that are undamaged are fully refunded, while damaged traps give a partial refund.

On the other hand, you really need to consider the enemies you're facing when you're setting up defenses. For example, if you know a lot of goblins are spawning, it is best to funnel them into tight paths where you can use a rifle to shoot multiple foes at once. If it's only a few enemies, you can use fewer resources and take them down in combat. The flying Ripper can set wooden defenses on fire, at which point it's risky to use wood as a weapon. There are also times when friendly NPCs spawn in the map and need to be defended. You get special items if they survive, but you lose a heart if they die.

There are also the usual sets of bonuses and perks to be found. By finding special alters or hidden rooms, you'll unlock random buffs to various abilities. One might cause you to gather more resources of a certain element, another can improve the damage of your attacks, and a third can cause one of the local wildlife to no longer view your character as an enemy. These are always useful to get, and like Isaac and its ilk, the bonus or perk can drastically change how you play. If spiders don't view you as a foe, you can camp in a nest of them and get a defensive stronghold for minimal resources.

Overall, Tunnel of Doom has the makings of an enjoyable roguelike. The core mechanics are simple, but it's genuinely addictive to try to find the correct combination of twitch gameplay and smart building to overcome a horde of goblins. The cute art style is appealing, although it makes the gore a bit of a surprise. While the beta still has room for polish and improvements, what we've seen so far is impressive. Tunnel of Doom is a title to keep an eye out for when it releases later this year for PC, Switch and Xbox One.

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