Never has a game title been so accurate in describing literally everything the game does. Your goal in this card game roguelike is simple – reach the end of a 50 level dungeon. Your options? Go right or down. Every choice has a consequence and it is always looking at the lesser of two evils. That is what makes Right and Down so compelling and simple to play and that lack of barrier to entry makes it very addictive too.
There are six characters to choose from but only one is unlocked at first. Each character comes with with a couple of abilities which are trigged passively through certain circumstances being met or actively by using the right move combination. For example, one character can heal by moving down four times in a row. Another skill can damage a random enemy with right, down, right down. Knowing your skill move set is key because Right and Down takes no prisoners – its brutally difficult to win and its RNG nature means you’ll have to think on the ball with every decision.
Each level in a dungeon is a selection of cards, specific to the area of the dungeon you are in. Cards fall into three categories. Enemies are the obvious cards and each enemy is killed in one move. The drawback is that the number of the bottom left is the amount of damage they will cause you and so you’ll want to plot out a semi easy route across a stage where possible. You don’t want to avoid enemies though because each battle gives you experience and this is the only way you can buy new skills to turn the tide of battle every 10 levels in camp. Stay away from battles, your character won’t have the skill set to survive the onslaught of enemies later in the game.
The second card type are traps. These inflict different status aliments and some damage as you wander into them and whilst they might offer less damage initially, their status aliments are often far more deadly if you haven’t planned for them. Blindness means you’ll be wandering into any old card as you move around a level and that’s deadly if you haven’t seen the level upon entering it. Frozen is extremely tricky as it stops you using any equipment related or passive abilities. These are really what buff your character and so frozen is oddly the deadliest of all the traps. Poison isn’t great either as health chips away very quickly no matter how much shield you have in reserve. Sometimes though, traps are lesser of two evils if your character is built in a way that negates a certain issue but that will be in the hands of both your skill and the RNG gods.
The third card type are the extra health potions, shield bonuses, coins and purchasable items. Again, you’ll want these to survive but buying certain items is the way to help your character build and grow. A lot of items are area specific so if you are in the desert for example, a random enemy will be removed each level. Stacking up on items can be helpful too and then you’ll be in the hands of your decision skills and the RNG gods to provide you with the areas that match your loadout.
Every decision matters but as you may have detected throughout this review, sometimes the RNG gods are not kind. Right and Down is punishing and some runs feel utterly impossible. Some areas feel harsher early game than late. Sometimes the skills and items you were hoping that could help you never arrive. I lost count of the amount of times I got to level 35-40 in a run and the sheer damage quota of every move undid anything I had built so far and it felt high on impossible. Steam achievements show me its not, so I’m clearly not getting some of the nuance in playing the game but it felt to me like 1 in 3 runs felt doable, the other 2 you could abandon early. I’m not sure that feels right as a game but each patch seems to be addressing this issue so I’m hopeful for future fairer improvements. Or an easy mode that teaches some of the deeper mechanics. Seriously, there is no explanation for anything and I think that’s a slight issue.
Despite its harsh nature, I found myself returning to Right and Down over and over again. It has that one more go factor that roguelikes need to survive and feel worthwhile and good. Completing tasks and finishing dungeons unlock different characters or new, trickier dungeons with mutations on them. There’s also a daily dungeon that is unlocked when you win the first dungeon. There’s plenty to explore and whilst the two button premise is simple, it feels more than the sum of its initial parts. Choosing right or down has never been so hard. A rough gem.
Higher Plain Games is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. There are additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and downloads. You can also share the website or use the affiliate buy now links on reviews. Buying credit from CD Keys using my affiliate link means I get a couple of pence per sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. Thank you.