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Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder



About This Game

Prepare to die, humans!A group of people wake up in a strange post-apocalyptic labyrinth — naked, with no memories and with a bunch of weapons. Is this a joke, a crazy experiment, or... a game? You'll find out soon enough, just try not to die first!

Get your pretzels readyYour puny squad is capable of much more. Choose your loot and transform the squishy humans into wizards, cultists, ninjas and dozens of other heroes, including the mythical stale pretzel throwers. With perks and class combos, there are thousands of ways to build your army. The man-eating cabbage will appreciate the variety in its diet!

Crush your rivalsIf you can survive the labyrinth, you'll meet THE UNSTOPPABLE END-GAME BUILDS OF OTHER PLAYERS! You'll beat each other to death and only one will be spared by d'Spot. No offense, but in his own game he writes the rules!

Indirect combatPrepare your warriors and let them fight it out on their own! Indirect combat allows you to focus heavily on tactical considerations rather than reflexes. Strengthen your front line with fridge-movers, aim your food-throwers and look after your Forbidden Summoners!

Endless exploration The dungeons are generated from scratch every time, and there is no chance puny humans will ever find the way out! And even if they strike lucky — don't worry, there are endless ways to die in Despot's Game!

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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous

Enjoyed this indie title a lot.

Its pretty much completed for early access already and has lots of features.

Review from Steam


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Despot's Game: Dystopian Army Builder is a roguelike strategy game.

A Run
Consists of several levels. Each level consists of a handful of rooms while each room has an enemy in it, the reward varies from being able to buy food, to humans or having events in them. You can also get free mutants on altars or fight against bosses. Random events happen after every level and sometimes within them in special rooms.

Battles
It's pretty easy actually. You have humans, either with a weapon attached or "naked". You can place them on the battlefield how you want. Click on "Fight" and the battle starts. From here on, it is like an auto-battler. Your humans will fight automatically and you can sit back and watch.
This means, the strategy comes from placing your humans accordingly, plan ahead when it comes to food, weapons, and mutations as well as how to approach which rooms. After every battle, you will get tokens. Tokens are your main currency to buy food, humans, mutations, and weapons with.

Humans
They are your main resource. Each human needs one food for every move (One move means going into a room). If you don't have any food left, they will suffer from debuffs while worst case means, they will die. To save yourself, you can sacrifice one human for five pieces of food. Some rooms let you buy food for tokens, too.
Every human is naked, without any kind of weapon. You can buy different weapons in the shop and equip a human with them to improve their stats.

Classes
There are dozens of classes available such as Shooter, Medic, Fighter, Tank, Cultist, and a lot more. Having several units one of class, each with a different weapon grants them special abilities like having three cultists will let them summon a tentacle and so on.
This also adds to the tactical depth of the game.

King Of The Hill
This is the multiplayer "mode" of Despot's Game. When you Win a run, your party will be placed on the leaderboard. To determine your spot on the leaderboard, you will fight against other parties one after another. Winning means you will beat his spot and go up, losing will let you go down.
It's pretty thrilling even though you just sit back and watch it happen. Every other party is from another REAL player. This adds a lot of tension to the game.

Meta Progression
There is nothing to make future runs easier really. Well, you will unlock the "easy" difficulty but since this mode deactivates your ability to be placed on the leaderboard (King Of The Hill), it's not really an option to fully enjoy the game. More so to try out stuff and learn the game more.
You will unlock starting builds, mutations to unlock in future runs, etc. while playing.

Differences between the Demo and Full Version
Everyone who played the demo will have a pretty good feeling of what the game will be like. Two things changed compared to the full game: There is more of everything (Units, events, monsters, difficulties, mutations, etc.) AND the game got a lot harder. First of all, a run is longer now and the balance changed. Some things like food are more expensive, while some enemies got weaker, others got stronger, too.
The Good
It's addictive. While I'm not much of a fan of auto-battlers, I'm in love with Despot's Game. In fact, I think it's so addictive, this deserves to be on the list for the best Strategy Games of '21.
It's just so fun to plan ahead and watch your little humans fight.
It's tactical demanding. There is a lot of strategies involved to win a run and be placed on the leaderboard. From placing your humans on the battlefield to asking yourself what I really need to buy right now or should I spare some tokens for later, or even new mutations?
The balance between RNG and Skill. While it has some kind of RNG (What's available in the shop, which mutations you can get, etc.) it doesn't feel unfair. It's so well balanced, that RNG won't affect your run too much. I never had the feeling of me losing because I got bad luck rather me being dumb, not going for X, predicting something "wrong", etc.
King of the Hill. I usually dislike leaderboard or at least don't care much for them but not in Despot's Game. It's just so much fun to be placed on the leaderboard.
The writing is funny. While there isn't that much text, events are very humorous.

The Bad
While I think the demo was a bit too easy, I feel like they went a bit too hard on the full game. I won my third or fourth try in the demo (it was a pretty easy run) but after around four hours and dozens of tries, I wasn't even able to reach the final boss/stage. Maybe I just need more time to "get good" but maybe it's a bit too hard right now.
Too few events. Already had some events repeated in my third run (not counting events from the demo of course).
Minor bugs like sometimes mouse clicks don't register and some Units get stuck and don't attack for a few seconds.
The music is monotonous and gets annoying fast.

Conclusion
Despot's Game: Dystopian Army Builder is one of the best strategy games in 2021. It's addictive, tactical demanding, humourous, innovative, and just fun. King of the Hill is a very nice addition to boring Leaderboards, it's difficult enough to be engaging and perfectly balances RNG and Skill IMO.
I can't get enough of the game and while I think it's a little bit too hard on normal, I can't say this is too bad as of now. Adding more events and different enemies would be a nice addition as well as fixing units getting stuck but aside from that, this is a well-crafted game. I'm excited to see what else they have in store for us during early access.

If you're into tactical roguelikes, you should definitely buy Despot's Game.
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Review from Steam

This game is a beautiful blend between the auto battler strategy genre, and an action packed roguelike. The game is a lot of fun, and the different combinations of units feels really strong, which gives it a lot of replayability. I can't wait to see what this game becomes in the long run.
Now for some feedback:
1) We need more ?! rooms, as seeing the same 2-3 often gets boring. I hope to see more in the future.
2) We need a stat that shows range of abilities. Its not easy to understand that healers are melee range healers until you see it in action.
3) We need a way to check the rarity of the shop if we are max level.
4) We need more run variance in the game, add some events that happen if your team is all mages, for example. Things to switch up a run-to-run experience.
Great job. Been waiting for this for over a year, will continue watching this game with hopeful eyes.

Review from Steam

Game is fun but needs a lot of rebalancing. The Foongus enemies need a drastic nerf. I cant tell you how many times i have been on a run steamrolling enemies then the Foongus comes along and wipes my entire party.

Review from Steam

It's pretty fun. Gameplay is mostly in resource management, and is like an idler version of SNKRX.
I made a list of some quality of life things I'd like to see in the full release:
- Better token signalling. It's hard to tell what gives tokens or how much. I would love to hear a token noise when monsters die or after a battle.
- More music variation, not just for battle, but switching into shops, bosses, curiosity rooms, etc
- Higher emphasis on sound effects. I had to turn down the music to even start hearing the sound effects, which weren't that punchy. For an idle battle game, I'd really love to hear some crunchy noises. There's no sound cues for many special abilities either, but when there are it makes a big difference.
- I wish we could see a keybinding list in the menu. I was wondering what hotkeys I was missing. (Like a cycle between human button?)
- I wish there was a better sense of objective. Are we trying to escape... kill the despot... is it endless?
- More artistic chamber variation
- It's hard to tell enemy threat. With healthbars turned on, I wish enemies had a level to them.
- I wish clicking a text option had a sound effect.
Preferences:
- I wish some stats were divided by 10 or 5. I'd prefer a basic swordsman do 4.5 damage, rather than 45
- I wish leveling up healed humans
- I wish there was a scoring system to make dying in runs more fun. (New high score!)
- I wish there was an activated ability we could use -- like single use items we could buy.
- I think we get too many mutations. I would prefer starting with 2 slots for all the mutations we get, with more slots unlocked with tokens.
- I find tokens are a bit overused. I almost feel like there should be a third resource used for the research tree.
- I wish WASD moved humans instead of switching chambers. I find using a mouse to reposition them somehow tedious
- I wish the humans were more active. I wish they would cheer after they win, or have conversation between them, or have a text box say "nooo!" when they die or something.
- I wish there was a better way to plan ahead, as part of the gameplay. Like, knowing you're facing a horde rather than a few tough robots would make you adjust your army a bit. As it is, since you don't know, the strategy feels independent of the game.

Review from Steam

Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder - B-
Who This Game is For:
Those who enjoy challenging roguelike games or have a personal vendetta against the human race. Think “Binding of Isaac” but you build and manage an army.
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Summary:
Despot’s Game is a roguelike army building simulator. The goal here is to build your army through buying Humans and equipping them with weapons. You go from room to room, while managing your food, and fighting a wave of enemies until you beat the Boss room and go to the next level. Beating each room gives you tokens and either a weapons shop, to buy weapons and more humans, a random ability/mutation, or absolutely nothing. You can also manage unit placement on the map and then watch your army fight and level up. Getting further in a run will unlock new abilities/mutations. The core gameplay loop is solid, enjoyable, and unique. The game has pixel graphics, but I believe the art is quite well made and really works with maintaining the dystopian theme. I am conflicted though. On one hand, I love these kinds of games. On the other hand, it feels this game’s mechanics sometimes hinder your progression in the game. For example, getting abilities for your classes come in 1 of 2 ways: You can either get it randomly from a drop or have at least 2-3 people in the same class but with different weapons equipped. I feel this is detrimental to the game and got me to stop caring about abilities and just get the strongest equipment. I believe this game has a lot of potential, but the mechanics working against the player are too strong. I see a lot of potential and did enjoy my time playing, but there are some issues that I believe really need to be worked out.
Disclaimer: The game was played on my main account, so this doesn't have my accurate in-game time.
BREAKDOWN (Grading Key at the bottom):
Graphics – A-:
The game is styled with pixel-art, which does a great job evoking the dystopian setting. Not all the art is made with excruciating detail, but there is enough to keep the theme alive and varied. Different levels have different themes, which are reflected in the rooms. Each room on one level sticks within that theme with small changes like slightly different walls or graffiti on the floor. Since it is dystopian, the setting is dark, which is something I personally like, because too many bright colors hurt my eyes. The humans have a pink, simple design which changes with their class. Some of these classes are more visually pleasing than others, like the One Punch Man equipment. My favorite design aspect of this game is the enemies. Each enemy looks unique and creative. From Cabbage monsters to robot samurai, the game has a variety of enemies with great designs. The animations of the attacks aren’t top tier, but it felt fluid enough to enjoy watching the battles. All in all, the setting is great, animations are fluid, and designs are creative and varied.
Gameplay – C+:
The gameplay is where I get very conflicted. The game is positioned to be a roguelike-management game. You start the game by choosing a difficulty and starting crew, both of which are unlocked by playing the game and performing different actions or having a specific team setup. From there, you position your humans and start clearing out rooms while getting tokens, new weapons, or a random mutation/ability. You also must manage how much food you have. When you go to a new room, you will consume 1 food per 1 human on the field. So, if you have a team of 15 humans, they will consume 15 food every time they go into a room, including ones you have already cleared out. To get more food, you must either find a food shop room or sacrifice some humans you must get food. When a boss is killed, you will go to the next level and prompt an event to get tokens, new people, or abilities that make your team worse. The weapons/class system is my biggest gripe. Buying weapons and equipping them to your humans gives them a class. Each class is unique in how it’ll fight, whether it be a tank with lots of HP and defense or a shooter which attacks from afar. There are many different classes that are diverse in how they play. Each one has multiple different weapons within that class that range from common to very rare. All classes have abilities, but 90% of them are only active when you have 2-3 members of the same class but with different weapons from that class. So if you have 2 people who have the same weapon, the ability won’t be active. Abilities can also be upgraded if you have more than 3 people to a class with different weapons. On top of that, getting the different weapons for the classes can be a slog. You can upgrade the shop to show more than 4 weapons, but with so many classes, it can be difficult to find the ones you need. I’ve also realized some of the abilities can range from great to useless. For example, the tank ability, which taunts enemies to attack them and increases their defense by 50% or more, is a wonderful ability. On the other side of the spectrum, the Tricksters ability allows each Trickster to throw a bomb that deals 30 damage AoE. While this may seem good, you’ll be fighting enemies with 1000+ health, so its ultimately worthless. Even healers, who don’t need any requirement to be able to use their healing ability, only heal 15 damage pre-upgrade. Enemies do 50+ damage after the first level, so it is also useless. The humans can also be killed during battles which could make you lose your abilities you worked so hard to get. You may be able to recover the weapon and just put it on a new human you buy, but that is not guaranteed. It is a frustrating system that needs some polish for sure.
Replayability B-:
This is a roguelike game, so replayability is at its core. Every time you die, you unlock new abilities you can get. If you complete certain actions or have specific team class setups before you die, you can unlock new starting lineups and difficulties. The difficulties and starting lineups are unique and offer different ways to start the game, even though you’ll end up going for whatever hits hardest in the end. There is also a King of the Hill mode where you fight against other players. This mode does have seasons to it with winners of each season. As of right now, I would say there is enough replayability to keep me hooked for 20-25 hours. I can see this changing depending on future updates, and they seem to have a good roadmap for the future.
Multiplayer C+:
This game has something called asynchronous multiplayer. Basically, you can fight against other teams that have survived the main game. It will not be controlled in real-time by another player; it is something they have set up and let you challenge them. This is the King of the Hill mode. It seems the devs have a new mode with a focus on multiplayer coming, but it has not been implemented yet, so don’t go into this game hoping for an engaging multiplayer mode, at least not yet.
Developers B+:
At the time of this review, the dev has released two updates to the game since its early access release one month ago, culminating in new enemies, mutations, and balancing, with some little hotfixes pushed in the middle. They seem to be pushing their King of the Hill mode and community interaction and involvement when it comes to development, which sounds wonderful. If they continue this streak, I will put faith in their support. I have read a couple of developer comments to negative reviews and I was happy with their responses. They were appreciative of the review, open to criticism, and willing to discuss problems and how to fix them. TinyBuild is also publishing the game, which gives me faith the game won't be abandoned.

Review from Steam

The game teaches me that lives are cheap.
This is really fun to be played, but not really enjoyable in a prolonged duration.
You gotta play this game every now and then to avoid the frustration of losing your people (At least for me, because I love my adult pink babies running around naked wielding uncommon weapons).
Not to mention the BANGING soundtrack, it's totally worth it even at full price.

Review from Steam

This is a good game, and I have beaten the boss, but the problem is that there is no skill involved. Once you find the right strategy, you can get to the final level every time, and then the fun is all gone. I give it a thumbs up but only because of how much I enjoy the idea of the game.