Now that Christmas is over and all the fun festive distractions are packed away I can finally sit back down and play video games! This exciting prospect was only heightened when I was given a copy of Dungeons and Darkness, a dungeon crawling RPG from Yumiuchi Project, to review. As a long time-table top gamer, and an avid RPG player to boot, this game seemed right up my street. Sadly, the games good ideas and interesting story is hidden away behind outdated graphics and poor animation quality.
In Dungeons you play as a hero sent into, you guessed it, dungeons to find loot and complete quests. At the start of the game you get to select your class (including a Dark Souls like class that is rubbish at everything), each with their own focus and stats, to take through the game and level up. While the classes all start as very similar they evolve through the skills and equipment they gain and after several quests they look fairly unique from one another. The real meat of the game, however, is to be found within the dungeon itself.
As with any dungeon delving game the majority of your time will be spent in dungeons, or more specifically one dungeon. The game doesn’t have huge variety in map location and, while the map changes and evolves as you go deeper over several missions, the map still seems repetitive. This repetitive issue seems to seep into the gameplay itself, or at least the combat, as the old rotation of attack and back pedal until enemy is dead is the order of the day. This tactic works until the game throws more monsters at you and that creates heaps of issues.
Dungeons and Darkness difficulty is something, with the current build at least, that I take issue with. While I know that it’s trying to copy the old Dark Souls idea of killing you over and over in Dungeons it seems more unfair than brutal. Little goblins will dive at you and two shot you at even normal difficulties and you occasionally feel cheated when your attacks clip through enemies and do no damage, or there’s land when you don’t seem to be hit. This led to a couple of frustrating game overs and at least one rage quit (I’m not an angry child, honest…). While the gameplay loop wasn’t that fun there are some fun activities outside of straight combat, including chest like puzzles that let you get loot for solving riddles and a stealth like system that lets you one shot unaware foes, that helped to keep me playing for a while at a time without getting burnt out. The overall game seems fun to play and, while the controls aren’t as tight as I’d like, it seems fairly well put together.
However, the game is not at all aesthetically pleasing and verging on ugly. The character models and textures do not look pleasant and actually make the game less fun to play. This is carried out of the dungeons and into the menu like hub section of the game that looks like it was made in PowerPoint, or some other presentation software, and takes any sense of immersion away you could gain in the dungeon immediately. The graphical flaws are also prevalent in the animation quality of the game, leading onto further issues with already dubious hot boxes. Swinging your weapon or casting spells doesn’t make you feel like you’re making contact, and this is important for a game like this one. While the music and sound is somewhat pleasant, much better than the graphics, it isn’t enough to distract from the clear graphical problems. The game is still in development so there is a chance it will improve but as of now there is no chance this game will win any visual awards.
The difficulty of the game was touched on earlier and it’s probably worth saying again. Easier difficulty levels make the game too easy and not worth playing while the higher ones, even normal difficulty, seems unfair at times. While there is a demographic out there who likes this, and I’m quite bad when it comes to games like this, there is no difficulty that fits me. This means that there is no real way for me to enjoy the game as it is, without a new difficulty right in the middle being added.
In terms of replayability Dungeons and Darkness seems like it could be played several times. The different classes and difficulty levels, although not for me, do lend the game to numerous attempts and the fact that I haven’t even played around with magic users to a great extent yet shows there is much to be gained from a variety of characters. If you can get past the games issues you can find a lot to do for the low price tag.
Overall, I’m not a huge fan of Dungeons and Darkness but I can see some charm. The core gameplay is not that fun to me but the theory and ideas behind it have a certain amount of promise. However, the game falls flat on the graphical front and, for me, it’s just too poor to keep me playing. If the developers make the game look much better and maybe introduce new animations and enemies to face I may come back, but until the I’ll stick to my table top dungeon games.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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