It was only a matter of time before indie devs decided to get in on that sweet toys-to-life game action. Paris based Ynnis Interactive has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for Dungeon Mini. The project is a real-time action board game for tablets seeking $88,431.
The concept uses proprietary technology developed by Studios Volumique to recognize individual game figurines on capacitive touchscreens. Special heat points located in the base of each model allow them to conduct electrical impulses generated by the player’s hand. This allows the game to detect and recognize each piece’s position and rotation in real time as it navigates the level. Unfortunately, it’s the sort of thing that is far more interesting in theory than execution.
The story does its very best to justify the game’s mechanics. An evil wizard named Maleferus has harnessed negative energies to turn adventurers to stone. Rather than acting as one of the figurines, the player is cast in the role of a “Chosen One” who has unlocked the power of a secret runic language. This knowledge enables them to control the fallen heroes by breathing special hand magic into them. Not to read too much into this, but basically you’re swinging petrified corpses at your enemies.
Okay, so the deep narrative doesn’t necessarily hold up, but surely the gameplay is engaging and fun, right? Well, I guess that entirely depends on your perspective of fun. The campaign shows off the first two unnamed characters a dwarf and an elf. The dwarf has the power of a huge freaking axe. This is used in close combat by frantically jerking the figurine back and forth over the screen.
The elf has a more nuanced and frustrating long range attack. It requires backing into corners and tapping the screen with your off-hand to launch pitifully underwhelming arrows. Granted both methods are intuitive for touchscreens, but it’s not exactly strategic or satisfying combat.
Currently, Dungeon Mini is a single-player experience developed for Android and iOS tablets of 7 inches or more. The top-down levels look nice enough, but feel very tiny when made to accommodate the figurine on smaller screens. The figurines are detailed, but you have to pledge at the hefty $65 tier if you want both. This currently doesn’t take into account any new characters that may be unlocked and developed through stretch-goals.
Tablet-top gaming shows promise, but I didn’t leave the Dungeon Mini Kickstarter page convinced that it will be the next big thing. In its current state it seems to water-down the better aspects of both tabletop and mobile games into something innovative, but not really exciting.