Tunnel of Doom

PC Switch XBox One

If I have any longtime readers: I would like to apologize for the recent lack of updates. Obviously, the world has been a complete mess since my last update. That being said, since that time, I am happy to report that I have been working as – COUGH – General Counsel / Head of Feedback & Developer Relations for Digerati & Big Sugar. I’ve gone full indie and I couldn’t be happier. I do ask that you please appreciate and understand that as you read my work going forward. I’ll never post anything I don’t believe in, but just know that the affiliation is there.

The Official Announce Trailer

I’ve never met Antti Vaihia – at least not in the traditional sense. We’ve corresponded via email, Slack, Google Meet; all the usual pandemic communication methodologies. Despite all that, over the past few months we’ve worked together for hours. I’d consider him a friend, and an all around decent human being.

Antti, who lives in Helsinki (I live in Philadelphia), is the developer of Tunnel of Doom. As its Steam page so succinctly describes it, “Tunnel of Doom is an action rogue-lite hybrid that mixes tower defense with melee and ranged combat gameplay.” As we have readied the game for its beta – which occurs this weekend (sign up if you’d like to), I’ve spent hours playing it, providing notes and just simply thinking about it.

You have no idea what goes into balancing the most simple of decisions regarding shop pricing.

The game tells the story of Angel, a woman in an early 20th century mining town (I’ve always assumed it’s in America, but that might just be the ignorant imperialist in me), whose husband is trapped in a mine infested with evil demons. As Angel progresses through the procedurally generated mine, she fights off enemies with a mix of classic dungeon crawler combat and more “modern” tower defense mechanics.


I wholeheartedly believe that Tunnel of Doom is a fantastic product. Obviously, I am biased. Regardless, I truly feel that Tunnel of Doom blends the rogue-lite dungeon crawler with tower defense in a fashion that is virtually seamless and entirely novel.

The game playing public is quick to dismiss the level of effort that goes into producing a new title. It’s very easy to say, as a pundit or a member of the games press that you “understand” what a developer is going through. That being said, until you’ve watched a developer respond to feedback in real time, you have no idea. Every damage tweak causes a ripple that mandates an adjustment to item pricing. Every adjustment to item pricing mandates a difficulty adjustment. You might say that you “know” this – but trust me, if you aren’t a developer yourself, you really don’t have an appreciation for the work and thought this entails. Whatever hours I spent evaluating Tunnel of Doom, Antti spent countless more responding to my thoughts.

The game is not done – as noted, we have a beta going live this weekend. Regardless, I am immensely proud of the insane amount of tweaking and balancing the Tunnel of Doom team has performed up to this point. We’ve thoroughly debated, analyzed and balanced every aspect of Tunnel of Doom’s gameplay. And that is only in the three months that I have been working with Antti – he undoubtedly put himself through the ringer before he signed up with a publisher. Regardless of the ultimate result, no one can ever say that Antti and Angel Tanos, the game’s artist, didn’t make every effort to make this game as playable and enjoyable as they could.

I hope you play and enjoy Tunnel of Doom! It is an amazing game, and nobody will ever shake me from that opinion. But, to close out on a high note, here are some of the things I like about it:

  • ToD has a strong female protagonist that is delivered in a straightforward, non-pandering manner.
  • It serves as a great introduction to both dungeon-crawling roguelikes and tower defense, but remains a unique experience in its own right.
  • The ending – which I don’t think you can see in the beta – is video gamey as hell, and I love it.
  • The difficulty ramp-up in the game’s “doomed” mode is very much on point. You will feel challenged, but not innately overwhelmed.
  • The game is very old school in its difficulty ethos without being overbearing.
“Distressed Miners” and their health were vigorously discussed prior to release.

Long story short – I sincerely feel that Tunnel of Doom is worthy of your time and consideration. Dig in if you can!