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Ancient Domains Of Mystery (ADOM) Review

Death Screen

Ancient Domains Of Mystery (ADOM for short) is a roguelike game which is currently in its 20th year of development. Its development started in 1994 and it still continues to this day. During the course of these 20 years, the game has progressed and changed drastically visually as well as gameplay-wise.

According to the developers, there will be two different versions of the game. The so-called “base game” which will be free to download and play, will not have any gameplay restrictions and will in general be a complete game. And the so-called “commercial game” which will be available for purchase on Steam (and possibly other gaming platforms) and will be expanded with features that are unconnected to the actual gameplay; Such as achievements and shared high scores.

ADOM dungeonADOM’s gameplay is pretty straight forward. You use the arrow keys
to move your character in the world and you use keys to perform specific actions, alternatively you can perform all actions using the mouse in case you’re not fond of the keybinds. Hopefully the final release of the game will include the feature to rebind keys, since I believe it’s essential in this type of game where you have to memorize many keys and their actions. There’s a pretty extensive in-game tutorial available for anyone who has never played this type of game (like myself) or just wants to refresh their memory on how things work.

I found the game rather difficult, but really fun at the same time. Since the game features a permadeath as a true roguelike, I found myself creating dozens of characters in the course of my gameplay. The biggest factor of this difficulty is the pretty simplistic hunger system. You get hungry as you move around and perform actions. This is where ADOM shows no mercy for the new player. The character gets hungry very fast which means that you need to purchase plenty of food when you embark on your journey. Sadly the food is very expensive and gold is scarce, which leaves you in a bind. An option to play without the hunger system would be more than welcome, but that might be just the wimp in me talking.

Main menuThe graphics of the game are very nice and suit the game well. The only real complaint that I have about the graphics is that the character’s sprite looks the same no matter the terrain. However, considering this being a pre-release version of the game, I’m not holding it against the game, since I’m certain that such things will be present in the final release.

The music in ADOM is very atmospheric and suits the fantasy medieval theme that the game is going for, but the music gets very repetitive if you tend to play the game for a few hours straight and makes you wish there would be an in-game mute button for it.

All in all, ADOM is a great game and I would suggest checking it out regardless of whether you’re fond of roguelike games or not.

You can download ADOM from its official website.

This game was submitted for a review by the developer. If you wish us to review your own free indie game, you can submit it here and we will check it out.

  • John Copley

    You can also change keybindings with the adom.kbd file. Obviously this takes a bit more work than most games, but it is there.

    • I’ve just recently uncovered this and managed to change couple of the keybinds to something more suitable for me. However, it an actual option would be added in-game for the average player.

  • Sylph Hollins

    If you select ‘tutorial mode’ from the main menu, you will play a game where hunger is massively reduced for your first hour or so of playing time.

    • Thanks for sharing this information. However, I still think that it’d be nice if there’d be an option to play without hunger system whatsoever.

      • Sylph Hollins

        Yes, it might be a good idea (with no hiscore entry or something).

        It’s worth mentioning here, that if you manage to do the very early quest for the sherrif (you have to do it early in the game, while you’re level 1-5), you get enough gold to buy the whole food shop out, and that’s more than enough to last you until you find the ratlings, who can sell you disgusting but nourishing food for as long as you like!

        Your point is a great one though – having a way to learn the game at a comfortable pace is better than struggling to begin with sometimes. x

      • Padge Vounder

        You need to go all Jeffrey Dahmer and eat those corpses.

  • JustMe

    there is mute button for the music: ctrl + m, v, tab, 0,enter, tab, 0, enter in this order i believe. it’s not intuitive but it exists 😀