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Dungeon Encounters looks like a minimalist dungeon crawler, and I'm kinda into it (Update)

De-make the dungeon

[Update: Dungeon Encounters launched today on PS4, Switch, and Steam, in case you’re eager to dive into some grids and turn-based battles.]

Square Enix’s Tokyo Game Show 2021 presence kicked off today, and the publisher brought a fair bit of news. But looking beyond the big games they’ve got on the horizon, there’s one new one that caught my eye: Dungeon Encounters, a new dungeon crawler that’s just a few weeks away.

Dungeon Encounters is a new dungeon-diving RPG with some names behind it. Final Fantasy XII game designer Hiroyuki Ito is in the director chair, with Hiroaki Kato producing, character designs from Ryoma Ito, and a soundtrack overseen by Nobuo Uematsu. It’s not just the talent, though, but the look and style that first drew me in.

The goal of Dungeon Encounters is to chart the depths of a deadly dungeon. With 100 floors filled with monsters and hazards, that’s a daunting undertaking; but the dungeon, as it’s laid out on the screen, is just a bunch of squares.

It looks like picking and choosing a route will be very important as you wander around this sparse grid. Once a battle breaks out, it flips into a slimmed-down, refined version of the Final Fantasy Active Time Battle system.

Add on some cool character designs and what looks like a wide variety of both party members and enemies, and it seems like a genuinely intriguing game. It might be easy to, at first glance, deride the sparseness of Dungeon Encounters. But this has all the right pieces to be a quiet gem, if everything clicks into place.

Dungeon Encounters looks like the kind of game that garners a small but fervent following, that gets discussed in reverence on niche-within-niche forums. You could tell me this was actually a previously released cult hit on the PlayStation Vita, and I’d believe you.

The grid-based floors of Dungeon Encounters

And the good news is, it’s not a long way off either. Square Enix announced that Dungeon Encounters is digitally coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam on Oct. 14, 2021. It’s already up on some of those platforms, where it looks like it will retail for $29.99 (currently a little less with the pre-order discount).

Between this and the also-recently announced Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, I’m down for this month of strange, interesting Square Enix shadow-drops. We’ll see how the explorers fare when Dungeon Encounters launches in a few weeks.

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