DROD: The City Beneath

Demo Download
Caravel Games

DROD is a game that autistic people might enjoy while on methamphetamine. Its a turn-based, dungeon crawling puzzle-game. The way that works is: you can move in one of eight directions, you can wait, and you can turn your sword clockwise and counter-clockwise, and every time you execute one of those verbs, a turn passes. Every turn, other things in the tile-gridded room you're in will move, and every x amount of turns spawn units will create things that move. Thats pretty much DROD, "invented" (because it is so primally iconic a game design) by Eric Hermansen back in the 90s. Since then, it has expounded on that simplicity with so much manic variation that thousands of people have subscribed to Caravel Net and flooded its message boards with help requests, new content ("Holds" as it were) and all kinds of crystallized culture only possible in a hardcore gaming super-niche like the DROD series.

King Dugan's Dungeon was a fairly generic excuse to throw a lot of punishingly difficult dungeons at you (and that's coming from a guy named Patrick Dugan); Journey to Rooted Hold cultivated a plot and streamlined its delivery with well-paced and far better balanced level designs. Now, The City Beneath builds off the narrative and gameplay trappings of the previous two, delivering the mad challenge of KDD while measuring it with the balance and pacing of JtRH. If you like DROD, TCB will be like the indie equivalent of Guns of the Patriots, a well-produced extravaganza that vindicates its world with content.

The plot of TCB has to do with a vast subterranean civilization made up of personality-deprived "citizens". It's a goddamned empire, man, they've got control of international trade, manipulating kings and armies; they've got liaisons in every major government, thrones in their pocket. As Beethro, the Homer-Simpson-with-a-sword protagonist of the series, you're going to get to the bottom of this - literally. Like, the whole culmination of the game, and by extension the series so far, is to clear all rooms in a level, then proceed to a lower level. DROD breaks from this a bit, having you work your way through the underground city of that serves as this empire's seat, taking a detour or two to the surface (actually, its precisely two detours), but ultimately allowing you to reach "lowest point" which is exactly what it sounds like, the lowest point in the whole world.

When you get there, you take off a cover, and look down a hole, and everything becomes clear.

The gameplay stays fresh from level to level, keeping up with new, challenging variations. Many of these are handicaps -- the liability of pressure plates, the insane growth of the bramble, and god help you, the stubborn weak points of the gel. But then you find empowering additions, like the speed potion, which allows you to get two free moves for every move enemies make. If you've played JtRH, you'll know that a Slayer is a difficult thing to deal with, to the point where the climax of an entire game is structured around killing one. TCB makes you a Slayer of Slayers, and at times, allows you to best a whole crowd of them in hyper-kinetic melee. I'm talking about Bangkok brothel levels of fan service.

I think "Bangkok brothel levels of fan service" is a good way to end a review.


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Just to echo Patrick, but if you haven't played any of the DROD games, you should play at least a few levels of one. They're practically a genre of their own, a compelling form of puzzler that makes most puzzle games look like chopped liver.


"This sequel is a great

"This sequel is a great continuation of DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold. Highly recommended."
-Ed Pegg, Mathpuzzle

"The entire game is pitched at the level of frustration that keeps you hacking away at the problem instead of turning away and taking a break. You can sit down for a few before eating lunch, and when you check the time, you'll see that you've been playing so long you've skipped lunch and dinner."
-Tony Delgado, Game Set Watch

The DROD series began over a decade ago and has enthralled thousands of players. Our latest DROD game, The City Beneath, was made by and for this community. Admittedly, The City Beneath is a very difficult game, but it's also a tremendously rewarding experience. We did not make this game for just anyone; we made it for the great puzzlesolvers in the world--the joyful scrutinizers, the illuminated elite! Our approach is to create novel types of puzzles and showcase their facets in the context of an interesting story.

You begin as a rather ugly man named "Beethro" who travels deep beneath the ground. There are other people down there too, citizens of a mysterious "Rooted Empire", that are carving tunnels and building things. Beethro just wants to know why, but it's hard to get a useful answer. He was always fond of saying "there is no problem that can't be solved with a really big sword," but upon arriving at the underground capital, Beethro is startled to find that nobody seems interested in attacking him. No, for some reason, they would rather persuade him to stand in a very long line.

Are you new to DROD? If so, then I envy you. A vast, unexplored territory has just opened up! Here is what you will find in our latest offering:
Over 350 rooms, each grouped within a level organized around a different type of puzzle element.
A humorous story of conspiracy and confusion with over 80 characters, each portrayed with quality voice acting.
Secrets and extra challenges that lay in store for the more curious.
A 90-minute soundtrack composed by synthpop artist Jon Sonnenberg of Travelogue.
Detailed in-game artwork that shows a range of environments, including outdoor and weather effects.

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