Ever since the Tangledeep Kickstarter went live in 2017, I’ve had my eye on the game. I was burned by a few crowdfunded games in earlier years, so I’ve been wary about backing untested games that make a lot of promises.

Thankfully, the devs behind Tangledeep delivered on their promise of a traditional roguelike dungeon crawler in homage to the bygone era of 16-bit RPGs. Continue reading our Tangledeep review for our thoughts on this masterful roguelike experience.

Name: Tangledeep
Developer: Impact Gameworks
Publisher: Impact Gameworks
Genre: True Roguelike
Price: $19.99
Availability: Nintendo eShop

Gameplay

Tangledeep at its heart is a classic dungeon crawling roguelike experience. The game is meant to be played on heroic mode, where characters can be killed permanently and the player starts over. There’s also a forgiving adventure mode that makes the game more like a tactical, turn-based RPG than a traditional roguelike.

Players choose a class to start with, but you can change this at any time in Riverstone Camp by speaking with the turtle monk that heals you.

No matter which mode you choose for your adventure, a wide variety of systems and deep tactical decisions await you. You can choose from one of nine classes when starting, with three more that can be unlocked as you adventure throughout Tangledeep.

Your job class can be changed at will by visiting the turtle NPC in camp. Riverstone Camp is your primary base of operations and one you will return to frequently. Two vendor NPCs will offer fresh stock here upon each new day changing. You can also pay for healing, job changes, and deposit items for future characters here.

Job System

Tangledeep has 12 jobs to master, each with their own collection of active and passive skills.

The job system in Tangledeep resembles Octopath Traveler and how you can mix-and-match jobs between characters. Rather than leading a team of adventurers into battle, players can learn all job skills on a single character.

Each job class has a separate job point (JP) pool that is leveled up by playing as that job. Earning JP for jobs allows players to unlock both active and passive skills. Active skills learned can be used even if you switch away from that job later.

However, only the job that the player has currently active will retain passive skills and bonuses. This unique system lets players mix and match skills to build a character that matches their play-style. Two skill bars of five slots each provide easy access to your favorite skills. Other skills can be swapped in at any time.

Taming and Breeding Pets

Digging the antlers on that Bog Frog? Whack it over the head with a Monster Mallet and take it back to camp with you. Every type of monster you encounter can be tamed so you never have to explore the Tangledeep alone.

You’ll want to make sure you take a moment to buy Pet Insurance before you leave, though; while your pets won’t completely disappear if they die in combat, the amount of food you have to feed them to make them happy enough to accompany you again can be completely avoided for a few hundred gold. Even without Pet Insurance, pets you’ve tamed will persist in your next life, so don’t be afraid to use those Monster Mallets.

Your corral can hold up to 12 monsters at a time, but you won’t want to fill up all of them right off the bat. Get two monsters of the same species to eat a few romantic meals together, and you’ll get them to breed, giving you a chance at an offspring that carries skills from both of its parents. Particularly once you acquire some of the rarer pets, you can end up breeding some pretty formidable companions.

Item Leveling

The turn-based gameplay is enhanced by the fact that you can level your items in random dungeons to keep them relevant. If you find a weapon that complements your play style well, you can keep it and make it more powerful by exploring it in an item dream.

Different traits like toxicity can be added to items through the use of lucid orbs, which are created from extracting shards from items the player doesn’t need.

All of these systems work well to give a player plenty of choice when playing the game. There are so many combinations for weapons, jobs, and skills that Tangledeep offers near infinite replayability. It’s a true roguelike in every sense of the word and its astounding that it feels so good to play on Switch.

Controls

The control scheme for mastering all eight directions in a roguelike usually doesn’t translate well to a controller. However, Tangledeep is a blast to play thanks to a unique control scheme that gives the player full control over their movement.

The skill, inventory, and information menus feel designed for a mouse interface rather than a controller. Sometimes it’s hard to know what you have selected until you move the cursor around to find it again. It’s a small complaint about a game that is very dense in the information it has to convey to players.

Graphics

The game itself is a masterful throwback to 16-bit graphics and games like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. Fans of those SNES games will feel right at home with Tangledeep, even though it a turn-based affair. Scan lines make the game look nice and retro, but you can remove them if you find them annoying.

The environments are varied and the enemies are interesting to encounter. The denizens of Riverstone Camp are thoughtfully crafted and the bosses in the game have been enjoyable enough to encounter.

Music

The soundtrack for Tangledeep was composed by the developer, but several big names helped out on some of the tracks. Perhaps the most recognizable is Hiroki Kikuta, who is famous for his work composing music for Secret of Mana. The soothing tones are a direct throwback to that 16-bit era, making the music one of the best parts about the game.

Grant Kirkhope and Norihiko Hibino also contributed to the soundtrack. If you have games like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Lufia 2 you will instantly recognize the influences within the soundtrack. There are 32 different tracks available and each one is a masterpiece.

The Good
  • 12 jobs gives plenty of variety to how characters are built
  • Forgiving Adventure Mode for those who hate permadeath
  • Guest composers Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana) and Grant Kirkhope (Donkey Kong Country, Banjo Kazooie)
  • Controls feel intuitive to use after getting used to them
  • Variety of supportive tasks like breeding, tree farming, and cooking
The Not So Good
  • Sometimes a save file can get corrupted (being addressed)
  • Not clear if the game will be getting DLC on Switch

Publisher provided the key for our review.

Verdict – Buy & Enjoy
Tangledeep is a true roguelike experience that has something for everyone. Even if you dislike permadeath in games, the Adventure Mode turns the game into a tactical roguelike with a job system very similar to Octopath Traveler.


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