Classic retro feel
UPDATE: POWDER is now available for the iOS platform. This includes the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
If you have ever played Nethack, and enjoyed it, then stop reading this review, and download POWDER immediately. When I was looking for a freeware game to play on my Dingoo a320, I found this game. It runs perfectly in a GBA emulator, and can be played on practically any computer. Let's not forget that you can play this game on your GBA, PSP, Nintendo DS (with touchscreen gameplay), Wii, and on your pocket-pc under Windows Mobile.
And while I do understand that Nethack and some other roguelikes also have been ported to consoles, POWDER just amazes me. The sheer thought of it running smoothly on all my game systems is beyond cool. And let's not forgot the great replay value either.
Your mission in POWDER, is to descend into the depths of the dungeon until you reach the foul demon Baezl'bub. Sounds familiar? Yes it does. But it's the gameplay that counts. When you have slain Baezl'bub, or if Baezl'bub dies in another fashion, retrieve his black heart and bring it to the surface. The game has 25 levels, all of them are constantly randomized whenever you play.
Many people reading this are probably wondering, "Why would I play this instead of Nethack?". And my answer is pretty simple. POWDER seems more polished, and a bit easier than Nethack. Sure, you could die 50 times before you finally complete the game, but it just seems a tad more fair than Nethack. Also the graphics are rather nice, and a bit more detailed than Nethack. Of course you can enable a classic tileset if you wish.
One of my favorite things in roguelikes, are the sometimes funny and descriptive end statements. These are sort of "game overs" with a twist, often a satire of your adventure. POWDER once again beats Nethack. The game provides you with a paragraph along the lines of "Nick should have known better than to play with skeletons.". POWDER will then show you what you killed along your adventure, your items, spells learnt, and even the amount of footsteps walked, plus your playing time. In classic arcade style, your character goes on the highscore list.
POWDER also has some interesting gameplay features, like water, and the possibility of drowing. It's also fun trying to find the hidden doors. Especially if you're trying to escape from 3 giant fire-breathing dragons, and all you have are some mere magic-missile spells. Another big change from Nethack is that you DO NOT have to choose a class. Meaning magic can be cast and learnt no matter what. The only decisions you make, is your gender, and name.
The game sticks to its roguelike roots. Equipping a silver ring can damage a creature vulnerable to silver, etc. And the massive amount of items allows for easy upgrading. Finding a spell book allows you to upgrade your spells. And there are many of these books. Of course, eating a rat's corpse is also in the game.
You will be doing yourself a great favor by playing POWDER. And you can very easily loose yourself in it. Even if you die many times, you always have another chance of success.
Explore. Equip. Attack. Eat. Heal. Die. And do it all over again. That is a true roguelike.
Review by: Nick
Safe for ages: 13+
iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)