Despite many years of familiarity with role-playing games, I unfortunately can’t say that I’ve ever had a crab as my dungeon master. This all changes with The Dungeon Experience, a delightfully chaotic upcoming first-person narrative adventure and a standout at PAX Aus 2023.
Set in a bizarre RPG-inspired theme park, The Dungeon Experience captured the imaginations of PAX-goers with a prominent display in the Indie Showcase section. The creators had a tape deck on display to listen to the game’s “pitch” as narrated by its characters, as well as adorable pins featuring its aforementioned crustaceous dungeon master.
The game’s demo was tailor-made for showing at conventions like PAX, as was evident when its characters made fourth-wall-breaking references to the loud environment and paused the game partway through to encourage players to wishlist the game on Steam. It begins with a brief explanation of its premise: the player has recently lost their job, and a friend has invited them to a theme park to cheer them up. After a conversation at the park’s entrance which involves pushing a barbarian’s nipples in as though they’re buttons, you’re launched into the adventure proper. You’ll help the park’s curator (a “level 1 mud-crab turned entrepreneur”) cover up corpses, listen to a sick saxophone solo, and encounter some wonderfully bizarre creatures along the way.
The entire experience is awash with silly, fun humour that keeps you smiling the whole way through – everything from discovering a hot dog in the toilet to the beautifully animated crab scuttling around is dripping with joy. Its tone is a gleeful combination of the unconventional satire of The Stanley Parable and the unceremonious whimsy of Frog Detective.
The Dungeon Experience does not yet have a confirmed release date, but the developer we spoke to was optimistic that it would be mostly complete by late 2024. To stay in the loop, you can make a crab proud and wishlist it on Steam here. Also, be sure to check out the rest of our PAX Aus 2023 coverage, including an interview with KarmaZoo designer Nadim Haddad.