Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Man Vs. Dungeon - Din's Curse

NOTICE: This review used a copy of the game that includes the Demon War expansion, your experience with the base game many vary.

So, awhile back I reviewed Depth of Peril (you can read that here) A... well I went on about this a bit in the Depths of Peril review but, Diablo Clone. That had a few rough edges but brought in some interesting ideas, namely managing a covenant, diplomacy and competition with other covenants, and a living world that doesn't simply wait for you to act. Well, as it turns out the developer wasn't quite done with some of these ideas yet, and decided to make a new game based in the same world.

Din's Curse follows a simple set up. In it you are dead and while they don't go into details your character was to put it mildly, something of a massive jerk. Seeing this Din, champion of the gods has cursed you with a second life. Doomed to wander the world forever, your job now is to redeem yourself by traveling the world, saving desperate towns from monsters and the forces of evil. It's an interesting enough setup, though nothing really comes of it as your placement in Din's Post-Mortem Community Service Program is mostly just an excuse to make with the killing and looting.
Saving the world is nice. But a legendary longbow is better.

At it's core, gameplay in Din's Curse is a straight forward hack and slash affair: pick a class, buy supplies form town then go into the dungeon and start killing stuff for loot and XP. If you've bene playing games like Diablo and Titan Quest it's nothing you haven't seen before, though Much like with Depths of Peril, the game does throw a few twists into the formula. one of the first and most obvious being classes.

In Din's Curse, you have several classes to pick from, mostly fairly standard. You have your big tough, warrior, your spell casting wizard, even a sneaky, trap laying thief. Each class has three skill tries and like in Depths of Peril, the trees are somewhat flexible, having no prerequisite for skills outside of stronger skills costing more skill points to unlock and level up. you even get 3 skill points per level, and even skill that would be considered 'late game' don't have a massive initial cost. So unlocking a later skill only means saving up for a few levels, or spending some money to untrain a few points.

You also get some special challenges to pick from; like only being able to equip gear of a certain quality or better, having no minimap, finding fewer magic items... There's even  one that kills you if you fail to save a town, which makes things interesting if you combine it with hardcore mode: Death is permanent, and failing to save the town means death.
Skills in this game have no sill or level prerequisites to use, giving you some flexibility in building your character.
Outside of normal classes however, Din's curse gives you the option to make a hybrid classes.A hybrid class allows you to pick only two skill trees instead of the normal three a regular class gets. However, those two skill trees can be from any class in the game. For example, you could take the mage's ice magic tree and mix it with the Warrior's Weaponmaster tree. This would give you a character who can pin an enemy down with freezing and slowing spells so he can better beat them up with a sword or axe. There's plenty of combinations to choose from, and if you're feeling like a challenge, you can even pick two trees from the same class. Which I know is possible because I tested it, and not because I had a moment of stupid and somehow managed to pick two trees from the same class without realizing it. Really. I mean that.

Diplomacy unfortunately is gone from the game, instead the dynamic world has been reworked and expanded upon. In Depths of Peril, the living world was interesting, but outside of a few really nasty events didn't have much consequence. If a monster killed a vender, it'd be replaced eventually, a thief stealing goods was annoying but he'd go away eventually if nobody killed him first. In Din's Curse, this dynamic world is now very much set against you. almost every event that happens is meant to make things worse for you and since losing too many people in town can cost you the game, there's more urgency than ever to try and keep things under control before the town is overrun with bad news. This game is very much you Verses the world, and the dynamic aspects of it are much more noticeable thanks to this.
Hybrid classes give you a lot of options to choose from, here's me picking two trees from the same class.

One thing that did carry over from Depths of Peril was the graphics. The game appears to be using the same engine and a lot of models and textures seem to have been ported over from the first game, though things might have been touched up slightly. The game also mostly takes place under ground in dungeons, with no outdoor exploration, and the game seems to handle the underground better. The dungeons are somewhat more interesting than the outdoors of the previous game, though as this game came out in 2010, things are still looking a bit dated.

Music and sound is about the same as the last game as well. The soundtrack is slightly better this time around, it's a bit louder, a bit more noticeable and does a good job fo getting you ready to go dungeon diving, though it's still mostly background filler. It keeps things from being too quiet, but it's nothing that's interesting or stands out enough to have you seeing out the soundtrack. Sound is also much the same as last time: doing a great job of grabbing your attention when something important happens, and monsters make noise to let you know they're there, Everything does what it needs to. But nothing that really stands out on its own.
The game uses a lot of the same graphics as Depths of Peril.
Finally, there something that's not quite a flaw, but more of a warning. The game's pacing can be a bit too frantic at the start. In fact this is not an easy game when things are played normally and being a new character doesn't help. Fortunately you an adjust how fast the game's quests and other dynamic events progress, and I'd highly recommend slowing everything down for your first few towns until you have a few levels under your belt and some idea of how things work. You'll take a small XP penalty for it, but early on being able to actually complete quests and save towns will make up for those losses.

In the end, What I said about Depths of Peril still applies here. If you don't like games like Diablo or Torchlight, this likely won't change your mind. But it's worth if you like those games and want to see somthing different, granted, the lack of diplomacy and a covenant to manage makes it a little less unique than Depths of peril was. but the new focus on you fighting against the world makes the game's dynamic world far more noticeable, and hybrid classes give you a lot of options to play with.

Din's Curse was developed and published by Soldak Entertainment. It is available on Steam, GoG, Desura and Gamersgate. It's homepage, which includes a demo and direct purchase option is available here.

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