In most fantasy games, the player gives little thought to the low-level monsters that creep around every derelict tomb or haunted dungeon. These basic baddies are barely worth the sweep of a sword, awarding the player little in the way of loot or experience. Not every character is as overpowered as a typical RPG protagonist, however. In Dungeon Pest Control, a young wizard must use every trick in his spellbook to defeat wave after wave of aggressive, tiny enemies, where a single miscast spell could result in his demise. Created for the DiscRoom jam, this free little puzzler does a great deal with a small amount of assets and time.
Dungeon Pest Control is a game made up of 10 chambers, each of which is filled with an increasingly large array of pests. The wizard casts spells in randomized groups of four symbols, each of which is especially effective against a certain enemy. Green daggers deal extra damage against rats and goblins, whereas a blue staff will make quick work of slimes. The collection of attacks can be rotated before launching onto the field, making the focus of the game sending out the magic missiles in the most optimal configuration. As the wizard casts his spells, the vermin inch ever closer, with the game ending if they manage to get past him.
Gameplay is easy to pick up and immediately engaging, borrowing ideas from Space Invaders and Columns while adding its own twists. The game has no time limits, leaving the player free to examine the board as they plan their next move. Each room contains an optional chest to collect — an objective that makes clearing each level tricker, but it opens up a fantastic final boss fight if all of them are obtained.
As someone who plays a lot of tile-matching games, I did find the overall difficulty a little too easy: The boss fight added some nice variation, but at the end of the game I was left wanting more. The addition of some harder post-game maps would have been a nice bonus, perhaps an endless mode where the enemies get bigger and faster as time goes on. That being said, the game does fit nicely into a short play session, each level ramping up in difficulty without getting frustrating.
Dungeon Pest Control uses simple pixel graphics with a lot of character. Each monster is a solid block of color but is instantly recognizable with distinctive features cut out in negative space. The simplicity works well to aid in the puzzling; matching the green dagger with a green rat is instantly readable. I also liked that each symbol was distinctly different, so colorblind players are not put at a disadvantage. Controller support is flawless, which is an unexpected bonus for a browser game, giving the game further accessibility.
A cold, windy soundtrack gives the feeling of exploring a dungeon, but given the cute aesthetic, a more upbeat background music style might fit the game better. The ending credit music, on the other hand, is surprisingly epic, befitting the end of a grand adventure.
Dungeon Pest Control is a charming little puzzler that would fit perfectly into a lunch break. Featuring intuitive and addictive gameplay, the game is a lovely distraction from the troubles of the day. If you enjoy the game, developer Ottobit has made several other quirky puzzlers.
Next week we will be playing Vecter, a high-speed racer in a technicolor world. The game can be downloaded from Steam. If you would like to share your thoughts, discussions will be happening in the Discord server.