Not that I’m saying Dungeonoid 2 Awakening is the first of its kind, but I don’t ever recall playing a bat and ball/brick smashing/Arkanoid-type of game that features a scrolling background and ever-changing location where you not only smash blocks and enemies but pick from a range of classes, too.

Perhaps not the strangest bunch of characters if playing a typical RPG, but selecting a priest as your representative to free the land with a large floating paddle seems… odd. It works, though.

There are four characters to choose from: the sorcerer, priest, paladin, and amazon. You don’t see this on screen other than an avatar in the top left of the screen, so why even bother to choose if it doesn’t make a difference? Well, it does. Only slightly.

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening PS5 Review - A class act
A class act. Source: Eastasiasoft

The aim in Dungeon 2 Awakening is to keep the rebounding momentum of a floating orb connecting with your paddle, smashing blocks as you go along. The USP for the game, as mentioned at the beginning, is the scrolling nature of the game. The screen will move vertically and horizontally as if traversing a top-down RPG in the guise of Zelda, only instead of having a pixelated sprite, a paddle floats at the bottom of the screen.

Looks can be deceiving, and at first, it would seem that crashing into a block would do damage. Nothing happens. On paper, you could float through the stages unscathed, but the ball has to move. And, of course, once it comes into contact with a block, wall or enemy, it will ricochet back to you. Should it glide out of your reach, you’ll lose a life.

To compensate for this, each hero will have three main stats: strength, speed and slash. Sometimes, this will be down to preference; other times, having the paladin as your tank will get you through a tricky area with a health buffer. That said, any time you die on a level – that is, lose all hearts – you have to repeat it from the beginning.

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening PS5 Review - Bomber man
Bomber, man. Source: Eastasiasoft

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening is harder than it looks. That almost constant scrolling through a stage is quite the challenge – more so if you’re trying to collect the many power-ups and deciding on the fly whether it’s going to be too late and you’ll miss the… yep. You missed the ball. Again.

Unlike similar titles in this genre, the power-ups don’t stand out. At the beginning of a stage, a legend flashes up with a list of each item and what it does, but it’s so brief you’ll have to trial and error it. Even then, apart from the obvious health restoration bits and the alternate controls (sending you the opposite way for a burst of time – aaarrrggghhh!), the power-ups don’t matter much.

Instead, you’ll rely on your character’s special power. Accumulate enough mana, and you can perform a shmup-level finisher that decimates almost everything on screen. It’s a real crowdpleaser, and each hero’s is unique. Just expect to use it sparingly, which should always be the case.

Dungeonoid 2 Awakening PS5 Review - Fantasy Island
Fantasy Island. Source: Eastasiasoft

The real trick in Dungeonoid 2 Awakening is to press the slash button just as the ball approaches a block or enemy and a blade will come out of it, often doing more area damage, or killing ‘something’ in one hit. This certainly helps when in a pickle, as the stages are timed. Did I mention that? I guess I just did.

That element is arguably the hardest bit. You may get to a boss with full health, but if you don’t take them down before the clock hits zero, expect to play the stage again. I wasn’t a fan of this, but it is what it is and means that this isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.

With all those factors considered, Eastasiasoft’s latest offering is yet another easy recommendation – especially if you like Arkanoid varieties. The concept is unusual, but it works pretty well. Just be advised that you will need to adjust to the scrolling stages, determine whether you should try to collect a power-up or not, and the biggest one: be accurate enough to finish before the timer runs out.

Also, while discussing Eastasiasoft, have you tried Dreamcutter yet?