Earlier today, a Kickstarter campaign launched in support of 5-Minute Dungeon, a new game from Wiggles 3D that takes traditional Dungeons & Dragons-style high fantasy gameplay and turns it on its ear, providing a look and feel that's a little more fun and funny, along with a faster pace (hence the title) that suddenly makes it more of a party game.
It's a tough balance to strike.
ComicBook.com got our hands on an advance copy for review, though, and 5-Minute Dungeon strikes the balance perfectly, managing to create an experience that's fun and exciting, bringing humor and accessibility into RPGs without talking down to its audience or making seasoned gamers feel like the whole thing is too precious or tongue-in-cheek.
Two-time Mensa Award winner Wiggles 3D is a Canadian developer and publisher that has been creating board games, apps and syndicated puzzles since 2001. Based in Canada, the company is the creator of the popular magnetic game Bellz and the hit movie trivia game Pass the Popcorn. Turning their attention on the fantasy realm, they've created something that just about anybody should be able to enjoy.
Of course, it helps this kind of project that "geek culture" has stopped being a subculture altogether and entered the mainstream in a significant way. The idea of making a fantasy-RPG party game would have been a really tough sell not that many years ago, but 5-Minute Dungeon -- especially once you've played it and seen the style of artwork they use -- just feels right.
The gameplay itself is intuitive and fast-paced, and while obviously some of the options and ideas that seasoned tabletop gamers are accustomed to might be closed roads in a game meant to be finished in minutes instead of hours, there's enough wiggle room (no pun intended) to allow for creativity.
Here's the lowdown per Wiggles 3D:
Adrenaline-fueled to create a jolt of excitement for casual and advanced players alike, 5-Minute Dungeon is a game in which players have a short five minutes to conquer a dungeon. Its humor-filled fantasy world is home to creatures like “A Cactus That Wants a Hug,” “The Grime Reaper” and “A Shark With Legs.” In the game, two to five players join together and choose up to five heroes to battle monsters, overcome obstacles, and defeat the dungeon boss. There are five dungeons to defeat, each more challenging than the last, with the final dungeon requiring precise skill, speed, and strategy to defeat. With no time to form a carefully-considered plan, and no predicting what dangers lie ahead, communication and teamwork are the name of the game, crucial to surviving the 5-Minute Dungeon.
“Designed with enthusiasts, life-long dungeon-crawlers and casual gamers in mind, 5-Minute Dungeon feeds into the hottest trend -- co-operative gameplay. It’s a fun, fast-paced card game that can be played anytime,” said Connor Reid, creator of 5-Minute Dungeon. “With the game’s humorous tone, overarching goal, detailed art and rapid action, we’re confident that 5-Minute Dungeon will be the next must-have game launched on Kickstarter.”
In real words? It's set up as a bit of a hybrid. There's game mats that feature fantasy RPG archetypes like spellcasters, huntresses, and the like, with gameplay cards and an app. The app provides a five-minute timer, a virtual game master if that's your thing, and a soundtrack if you want it.
Reid and company have nailed it: What they've created with 5-Minute Dungeon is a game that successfully gives veteran tabletop gamers a quick, cool thing to show their friends who don't quite "get" the appeal of their obsession.
If there is a downside, it's that this game is meant to be funny and meant to be a little on the chaotic side. That means anybody taking it too seriously might very well find themselves frustrated by the frantic pace and the fact that their buddies are having fun. But if you've ever played an app-based, time-driven game like Heads Up (the trivia version, not the thing from when you were five), you should be set.
You can check out the Kickstarter at the link above. Here's what you can get for kicking in:
- $5 Contributor level: Thank you & a print-and-play copy of the game
- $25 CDN (approx. $18.75 USD) Early Bird: Get the game for $10 less on the first day only!
- $35 CDN (approx. $26.25 USD) Standard Edition: Includes the game, plus all stretch goals unlocked by the campaign
- $40 CDN (approx $30 USD) Dungeon Master Edition: Features a more stylish box and some higher quality components
- $60 CDN (approx $45 USD) (Save $15) Both Standard and Dungeon Master Editions: Get both versions of the game. Keep a copy for yourself and give one away, or keep the Dungeon Master edition wrapped up and play the base game.
- $250 CDN (approx $187 USD) Canvas Print and Both Editions: Get an 18 x 24 inch canvas print signed by the artist and creator. Plus both editions of the game.
- $300 CDN (approx $225 USD) Pre-production copy and Standard Edition: Want to be the first to play? Get a pre-production copy as soon as the campaign is completed and a Standard Edition later.