Billiards Dungeon – First Impressions

I present to you today a pool-inspired roguelite game by Mauve Gaming called Billiards Dungeon! I got the chance to play a bit of it already and I must say that it’s janky but fun! Hence I figured I should share my impressions of it – but as always, these “First Impressions” posts are not full reviews. I have received the key from the devs but I haven’t had too much time to play it yet but I’ll get into that later.

Developer: Mauve Gaming
Publisher: Mauve Gaming
Genre: Pool, Roguelite, Dungeon Crawler, Action, Indie, 3D
Release Date: July 30th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent by the developers.

So, first up, I’ll use “Billiards” and “Pool” interchangeably here. I think the devs do, too, on their steam page. I mean, everyone does and “poolrooms” usually refer to billiards rooms where people also bet… but nobody cares about that and everyone uses the words for the same thing. Therefore, get mad at me if you want to (I know at least one person that will get mad at me) but I honestly don’t care too much about pool or billiards or whatever. I mean, I’ve played it once IRL and it was fun until I noticed that I suck at it and that I can only score points when I’m drunk. Alas, the real-life pool didn’t really do it for me,… Thank God for games like Pool Panic and Billiards Dungeon, right?

One HP and a dream?

In Billiards Dungeon, you are the ball and your “attack” is basically you getting hit with a cue stick. You propel yourself through rooms and collect potions, coins and trinkets. Trinkets give you power. Potions have different effects. Enemy balls hurt. Once you die, you’ll start from the beginning. It’s a roguelike! Hell yeah! As you get shot through procedurally generated rooms, you have to watch out for enemy attacks and you’ll need to use your environment to your advantage. Getting hit hurts but so does getting sunk. Hence, watch out for pockets and enemies and maybe even let the enemies play themselves!

In a way, this game is somewhat strategic even though it technically is a roguelite. You’d imagine that hitting the balls into the holes would be the only way to beat them but what if I told you that they technically have hit points, too, and you may be able to use a fireball against them or you just dunk yourself into their faces until they explode? Imagine, a minotaur boss getting propelled towards you and your attacks don’t actually nudge them all that far due to your proportions in relation. Now, fuck that guy and just blast him with spells or some of the perks you got!

The perks or trinkets or whatever you wanna call them mostly consist of stat ups. At least, I haven’t seen too many other effects apart from attack speed ups and movement speed ups. There are interesting potions effects like temporary “thorns ups” and that sorta stuff but overall I felt like the builds were often lacking in synergies or that “wow” effect you get from other games. I mean, it’s incredible when you get synergies going between items with damage multipliers and stuff like trails you leave behind. I wouldn’t mind a bit more “oomph” to your attacks. It’s a game, after all, no need to make it look realistic. If I were to give feedback to the devs, I’d recommend adding more effects to different items and going crazy on things that could synergise. Getting a simple “attack up” doesn’t help you a whole lot when you’re up against enemies that have more health than previous enemies. It looks like you’re still doing the same damage. Similarly, the movement speed didn’t really feel too hot… and it was honestly annoying to still have to use the cue stick to shoot through rooms, even after clearing everything. 

Oh no, what to pick? Why not all? Not that it matters…

The game is still fun though. The art style looks somewhat “retro”, I guess? At least it reminds me of some early NDS games I played in the dungeon crawler genre and it has a bit of a cartoony vibe to it, which works in this case. In a way, you could compare it to the aforementioned Pool Panic, I guess, style-wise at least. The music gets a bit repetitive and the progression system with you unlocking more stuff and other classes as you play the game more often is… tedious? I enjoyed the bit I played but tying unlocks to progress over multiple runs instead of just progress, period, feels lacklustre and makes it seem as if the devs are trying to force replayability. I personally love it when games tie items to achievements or certain bosses. It would also be great if there were a lot more that add unique effects like “your ball leaves a fire trail behind” or “hitting walls makes rocks fall from the sky” or flashy stuff like that.

Overall, the game is enjoyable but I wouldn’t buy it personally for 18€. I’d imagine that this game could become quite easily the favourite title in the roguelite genre for a lot of people if it was a bit more refined and had better effects… but at this point it feels like an alpha version almost with some of the UI looking a tad mediocre and with the music getting repetitive… I’d imagine that a bit more polishing would be great on that and I’ll happily look at this title again in the future. 

Games I’d improve:

  • The UI: Make it look a bit better or figure something else out for it.
  • Fun and flashy items that feel meaningful.
  • Easier or just faster travel through cleared rooms.
  • A progression system that doesn’t feel grindy and is tied to accomplishments instead of playing multiple runs *OR* more items available up-front to make the “grind” less noticeable.
Hooray! A new item!

It may sound like I’m complaining a lot but Billiards Dungeon honestly was really enjoyable up to a certain point and then I was just very hesitant on playing it again. As far as I know, the game has three different characters that get unlocked along the way but honestly, while I had fun with the idea at first, eventually, I just noticed how weak the items felt and how it wasn’t really noticeable after all. I’d have a good run with lots of gold for the shop, interesting items that would give me a lot of attack speed and damage but in the end, I didn’t really feel like I was doing more damage or anything… and well, the price point isn’t really justified either, in my opinion. I saw that the devs described the game’s progression system as “in-depth” and justified the price point with the replayability but just because you *can* play a game a lot of times that doesn’t mean that the game needs to be higher. In fact, I find twenty bucks for this game a bit too optimistic in its current stage. I wouldn’t have minded if it had an Early Access phase and the price went up accordingly but I wouldn’t tell people to give it a shot (I’ll see myself out) knowing that you don’t really get all that much bang for your buck here.

Again, I don’t wanna bash the devs or the game or anything but essentially the game suffers mostly from it not having all that much content. The premise and idea seem cool at first but it gets repetitive fast and feels “grindy” as you don’t really see too many new items. Right now it looks lacklustre and the price point feels like a trap. I’ll happily take a look at this at another date again.

Cheers!

This post is part of the Blaugust 2021 event. For more information on that, check out this post!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

4 thoughts on “Billiards Dungeon – First Impressions

Add yours

    1. Certainly does lack polish! I’d imagine the devs could work it out somehow but right now it just doesn’t look like it.
      Especially with how they present themselves on Reddit and with how they justify the high price point.

      (Also sorry for the late reply. Your comment ended up in the spam folder. Luckily, I found it in time!)

      Liked by 1 person

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