SNAP Review – Adventure Games: The Dungeon
“How did we get here? And how do we get out?”
“You wake up from an uneasy sleep and search around in the dark… ‘How did I even end up here?’ you ask yourself. Trying to remember makes your head hurt though, so you decide to look around you first… You’re lying on the stone floor of a dirty cell. A dungeon?”
So begins your adventure to escape The Dungeon, part of the Adventure Games series from KOSMOS. A cooperative game that plays out in three chapters, it was created by Phil Walker-Harding and Matthew Dunstan. Up to four players can cooperate to solve the mystery and escape. Each chapter takes between an hour and 90 minutes to complete.
Learn about our experiences in The Dungeon in less than 10 minutes. Listen in, or read on below.
How to Play
To begin, each player chooses a character and receives health cards. Put your colored pawn on the room card that represents the cell you woke up in.
On your turn, you’ll move your character pawn to any location on an available room, then take an action. Actions include investigating a location or combining cards. To combine a card with another card or with a location number, you simply squish the numbers together (smaller number first) and look up the combination in the Adventure Book. Find the number you’re looking for? Read out the text and find out what happens next!
You may also exchange cards with other team members at any time during your turn.
Plenty of actions will cost you health – this is a dangerous mission, after all. Every time you lose a health point, flip over one of your health cards so the gray side faces up. If you get an opportunity to heal, you can flip cards back over to their colored side.
If you need to lose health and cannot flip any more cards to gray, you begin to *permanently* lose health. Return a gray card to the box.
Thankfully, you can’t be killed if your teammates are still healthy – they’ll lose health points instead, throwing themselves in harm’s way to protect you from peril.
Ending the Game and Saving
At the end of each chapter, you’ll score points for valuable items you found. You’ll also get a new goal for the next chapter. Do you want to keep going, or save the game for another time?
To save, you’ll need to take notes of health levels and the room cards that have been revealed. Then pack up the revealed room cards, your characters, and any items you’ve obtained into one bag, and all the cards that have not yet been revealed into another bag.
At the end of the third chapter, you’ll find out how the story ends – with one of five possible endings.
The Adventure Games series look like an EXIT box, but they’re non-destructible. You can play with your family and friends, and when you’re done, you can pack everything back up and play with a different group, or give it away!
It feels very much like the old point-and-click PC adventure games (King’s Quest, etc.), only in tabletop form. We really enjoyed navigating through the different rooms, investigating locations, and trying to solve the problems. Just like a PC game, you can play The Dungeon solo; simply pick two characters to use. Unlike other games, this solo mode feels perfectly fine; you won’t miss out.
The Dungeon rewards thorough examination of locations, but it is risky! Sometimes you’ll get items, sometimes you’ll lose health and get nothing.
Playing The Dungeon with Kids
We had our kids try The Dungeon. They enjoyed it, but it didn’t reward working together enough to be truly cooperative for them. They did lots of individual exploring, but did cooperate for some puzzles. There’s a lot of reading (obviously) and it was helpful to have an adult around.
The Dungeon is marked 12+, but our experience shows you can definitely play it with kids who are much younger. Be aware of themes of violence (there’s a skeleton chained up, and there are things trying to kill your characters) and drinking alcohol.
Some narrative elements aren’t always clear, or make little sense in hindsight. (We met a person “for the first time” who should have recognized us.) Doesn’t ruin the story, but did take us out of character for a bit.
Overall, the story was engaging and the narrative element sucked us in. After we played the second chapter, we really wanted to see what happens next, so we immediately launched into chapter 3.
Can We Play Again?
The characters you pick do matter. Decision points will come up that reveal different information depending on which character is investigating.
In addition to being reusable, the game encourages replay. Many items can only be used once but there are many options available. So maybe you’ll want to play again and try for different options or a different ending!
We’d judge that The Dungeon is generally approachable for kids. The only other Adventure Games entry currently available, Monochrome Inc, probably isn’t. There are other Adventure Games coming out this year, and we look forward to seeing them!
The Dungeon doesn’t feel like a board game, it feels like an interactive story.Anitra
Considering that it is less than $20 for up to 6 hours of fun, and you can pass it on to a friend or “run” for your family, we’d give The Dungeon 4 out of 5 health points for a family audience. We’d bump that rating up further for an all-adult audience. Find it on Amazon or at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Adventure Games: The Dungeon from KOSMOS for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Adventure Games: The Dungeon
Age Range: 12+ (troubling themes and long playtime means not great for younger kids)
Playtime: 60-90 minutes per chapter (3-5 hours total)