At first blush, this seems like a standard turn-based strategic dungeon crawler -- right up to the point where it starts throwing curve balls that have nothing to do with either dungeons or combat. The story of Popup Dungeon is all over the map, which dances through a variety of themes. And while the game gives an easy intro to the combat (which is familiar to most turn-based players), it drops the ball when it comes to the most dynamic and creative element: the customization. There's no tutorial, which is a shame because players can create virtually everything the game has to offer, from characters to skills to campaigns. This takes trial and error to come up with something that makes sense in a game context, and for the most part, everything a player needs to trek through different combat settings is already in place. Obviously, one strategy game is much like another, using action points that force players to plan out their attacks, but every game needs a hook to hold on to players. The customization is the hook here. You create and drop characters into the campaign or go the whole 10 yards and create your own adventure. A tutorial would have been helpful here. There is even a point when players get to roll a D&D-style die, but this is mostly a game adornment to give it an old-school feel (when you ask a character to join your group, a dice roll will determine their response).
Visually, Popup Dungeon is appealing enough, giving the impression of a tabletop game, and while the sound elements aren't that strong, they are decent. Overall, the battle mechanics feel a bit simplified and standard, and while it relies on a point-and-click navigation system, it doesn't always respond to your commands. But if you overlook some of the technical hiccups and missing elements, the customization element of Popup Dungeon is where the game truly shines and can engage players for hours on end.