Pixel Dungeon is a pixel-art based, multi-platform, rogue-like adventure game and it is completely free to play. The purpose of the game is to explore the deepest, darkest, most dangerous depths and retrieve the Amulet of Yendor. There are no ads or micro-transactions, but there are ways to donate in order to support the developer. You can even use bitcoins.
The game features four heroes: warrior, mage, thief, and huntress. At first, only three of the classes are playable; the huntress can be unlocked later in the game. Each hero has different abilities and they use different weapons as well; while the warrior is equipped with a unique short sword, the mage starts with a basic melee weapon and a wand, which can shoot projectiles when it’s charged.
Pixel Dungeon has a learning curve, and it involves dying a lot. Besides the rats, skeletons, and crabs that scout the hallways, there are traps and the constant threat of starvation. Everything is out to get you. To make things worse using found items is a challenge as well. Almost every scroll and potion is unidentified, so finding out what they do is often a guessing game. There are clues to unlock these safely of course, but the chance that you will accidentally drink a Potion of Liquid Flame instead of a Health Potion is always present. The mechanics also include a day and night cycle. When night comes there will be a pop-up message: “Be cautious, since the dungeon is even more dangerous at night!” During this time enemies will spawn more often. This also means more experience, if you can survive long enough.
Each character can use the “search” function to look for traps and hidden doorways. If they are locked, they require a key to open them. As a rule of thumb, the first depth will never include a hidden door. Doors will often hide special rooms, such as the Garden where your hero can rest without being attacked. Special rooms can also be used to guess which potion does what. For example, if you find a Chasm Vault, then you know that there has to be a Potion of Levitation on the same level to help you retrieve an item or open a chest without triggering every trap.
Combat greatly depends on which character you start with, but you can always use the terrain to your advantage. Use doors for surprise attacks and set them on fire. Open doors are flammable, so enemies that walk over a burning door will take damage. Also, getting special weapons can be more useful on certain depths than others, for example, if you are equipped with the Wand of Telekinesis, you can easily push enemies into traps and chasms.
Another part of the game that I enjoyed is unlocking badges. Badges are like achievements within the game. You can get these by collecting unique items, leveling up and starving to death, etc. (The last one is easy!) The “Top Rankings” panel is similar to achievements; it shows the history of games played with the most successful one on top.
Currently, this is my favorite game to play both on my phone and PC, although it can get a little bit frustrating after a while. This game definitely requires some patience, but if you can sit down and dedicate some time to it, it’s a lot of fun. If rougelikes are your genre I would give it a try!