Tangledeep (Switch) Review
Release Date: January 31, 2019
Publisher/Developer: Impact Gameworks
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Steam
Price: $19.99 ($14.99 Steam)
Tangledeep is a wonderful amalgam of many different ideas that helps anyone who's interested have easy access to exactly what they want. It feels like a straightforward action game but is actually a turn-based tactical affair. Gamers can choose to play it as a full on roguelike with permadeath that erases all trace of your progress upon being killed, have your death penalty simply be returning to home and losing half of your earnings, or hit halfway with the only thing saved being whatever you put in the bank back at town. Difficulty can be adjusted by job class: newcomers will enjoy a traditional paladin who wins through viciously smiting her enemies with a sword to a Soulkeeper who uses the spirits of her enemies to slay their former allies. At first you will succeed through traditional level ups and equipping stronger weapons, but there's a slew of information and submenus to delve through to craft the perfect fighter once you wrap your brain around it.
While Tangledeep is brand new for Switch owners, it's been out on Steam for about a year and therefore is prone to the occasional Steam sale. It's traditionally on sale for $14.99 there, $5 cheaper than the Nintendo edition, and is currently on sale for 35% off at $9.74. The Switch edition is worth the extra fees, though, making this quality game portable and giving full button and touch screen control options that can be switched on the fly. Again, another chance for gamers to get exactly what they want out of it.
Once you pick your difficulty and job class, you find yourself in a small town near a mysterious dungeon, and your hero has finally decided to make a name for herself by exploring the depths of the dungeon. Each procedurally generated floor offers a bevy of treasures, weaponry, and enemies that you need to explore in order to prepare for the next level. Back in town (and occasionally in dungeon) you come across quests to gain additional bounties or experience. As you level you gain more abilities to take down the enemies.
Tangledeep's unique gameplay appears to be a fully live action top-down Zelda clone, but in action it's very different. Action feels somewhere between Zelda and Fire Emblem. Each step you take is a "turn" where every enemy on the field gets a turn as well. Each step you take is a chance for your enemy to get closer, run away, or attack. If a large attack is coming, you get to see a grid showing area of effect and can decide whether to dodge or risk taking the hit to finish off your opponent. Each step is truly turn based, as in you can set down your system and nothing new will happen until you take another step. This allows you to get the live action feel combined with a traditional turn based RPG.
Back at the town (which you can portal to when you are overwhelmed) you get to heal up, obtain new quests, and (if you opted for the traditional difficulty) save up for the next run. You can bank credits with a townsperson that will carry over to your next play. Dying (in the harder difficulty levels) results in creating a new level one character that may have an easier time getting back to where you were if you left enough reserves for them. Again though, one of the greatest joys to this game is the adaptability. Gamers looking for a hardcore challenge will find it, whilst others who may want the experience but simply don't have the time will have a way to battle to the end without fear of losing it all.
I feel while Tangledeep may on the surface look a lot like several other outings on the Switch, it's much deeper, and the different skill levels are tangled up within each other, allowing a truly customizable experience. Fans of true randomized-level roguelikes can get exactly what they expect while those that a hardcore playstyle would overwhelm can tone it down a bit and get the same experience with no consequence. Tangledeep offers just the right amount of information to help you craft your ideal route through the game, and the randomization of the levels allows an insane amount of replayability as you begin to understand the system and go for a more punishing difficulty mode or change up your entire play style with a new job class. The game continually offers a new challenge and replayability that works wonders on the easily portable Switch that also lets you customize your control scheme to your liking. While it may be a bit cheaper on Steam, the Switch's benefits definitely make up the difference. Tangledeep's mix of....well, everything!....makes it an easy recommendation to anyone looking for a strategic action experience.
-Deeply customizable options allow for anyone to have fun
-Wonderfully unique combination of action and strategic turn-based combat
-Randomized level layout and a variety of jobs means even permadeath won't send you back to an old experience
-Extreme amount of information may overwhelm simiplistic gamers
-It can be frustrating to hit permadeath with a high-level character, your main character is designed to be disposable
Special thanks to Impact Gameworks for providing a code for review! If you want more information, Tangledeep is part of our new "Gamer's Lounge Reviews" podcast and will be broadcast live later in February!