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View Full Version : Din's Curse beta: a short (p)review


udm
03-25-2010, 02:05 PM
I don't have a site of my own, so I hope by posting here, it'll perhaps act as a sort of feedback.

Where to start...hmmm. Ok let's just go all the way back to the beginning, when Din's Curse was just "a dungeon crawler". I liked DoP, even though it wasn't perfect. When Kivi's was announced, I wasn't thrilled, and even more so after having tried the demo, since I was hoping Soldak would come up with something more ambitious. So, when Steven announced he'd be doing an "untitled dungeon crawler", I grimaced a bit. Deep down inside, I was hoping that Soldak would make another title as ambitious as Depths of Peril.

So, I kept holding on to hope, with each passing day escalating to months and finally to nearly a year. Then, the news broke out: Din's Curse was officially announced, and so were its features. Now, to reiterate, at this point I still wasn't clear what Din's was going to be about, so I didn't really hold my breath in anticipation.

Then, I read the first bit of new planned features. EMERGENT GAMEPLAY! So far, so good! Time went on, and the news trickled down like a fountain whose pipe had burst. New monsters announced, with their own traits! More emergent gameplay! This was starting to get exciting! A traditional hack n slasher that sounds like it'll be more ambitious than Depths? NICE!

Well, fast forward to where we are today, folks! I tried the demo, took the bait, and bought it on impulse. Even if the full game (or rather, beta) had sucked, I wouldn't have regretted it. Steven's a class guy, and I cannot thank him enough for helping me with getting DoP into my Stardock Impulse account. But hey, what do ya know!!!! --- Din's Curse is GREAT!

Yes, I can stand my ground and tell all of you that my wait had not been in vain. Whatever strand of hope that I held on to between Kivi's multiplayer development up till the release of Din's Curse - it all came together in the end into a really surprising treat that is Din's Curse.

Everything that I'd read about Din's lived up to expectations, and much more! Multi-classing is more fun than I'd imagined it to be, even though I normally play only one class in any RPG. The game is as intense and emergent as I'd expected it to be. Overall, I'm more than just pleased with my purchase. For SGD30 (USD19.90), Din's Curse more than pays for itself.

Ok, let's take a look at why it's fantabulous:

1) The emergent gameplay lives up to its expectations. Your actions really do matter. Of course, a game being "emergent", it means that expectations are bound to escalate over time. Already, I can feel myself wanting more! more! more! variations of quests. But for what it started off with, Din's Curse's gameplay is unlike anything I've ever experienced.

2) Damn solid ARPG system. Granted, there are flaws in skills and what not, and without an advanced physics system, there's no Diablo 3 flashy kind of moves like knocking over walls. But what the heck, give me a pillar to rip apart over wall-knocking anytime of the day. Where Din's Curse falls short of in terms of flashy animations and bling bling graphics/effects, it more than makes up for in giving the player the freedom of choice to take down an enemy. Furthermore, the skills and multi-classing make for some interesting gameplay choices. Instead of just rushing out into the battlefield and mass spamming 1-6 keys, sometimes you really have to think it through how you want the battle to play out. This, in itself, is a massive evolution to the ARPG genre already.

There can be improvements made to the existing system though, as I've mentioned in a couple of other threads in the Din's Curse Beta forum. Some skills call for a bit of tweaking, some a bit of re-working; some changes made to the interface and the way attacks are carried out would be lovely.

Yet, all this is trivial since Din's Curse has a rock solid core already. Not perfect yet, but nearly there in delivering itself as an ARPG.

3) With an indie budget, Din's Curse is rather impressive in visuals. I like how Din's Curse founds itself on the style of DoP, in a sense that the colours are always varied enough and pleasant to the eyes. The sounds are easily recognizable and IMHO belong to the game. They give the player a sense of belonging, that I always felt distinguished DoP from other titles in the genre back then, and luckily it's the same thing with Din's Curse too. Very slick, I like that in an indie game.

I am still very pleasantly surprised by Din's Curse, and I've clocked in a total of about 20 hours already, which is a bad sign since I've been neglecting my lectures over the last few days just to "save just one more town" (congrats Steven, you've invented a new syndrome not unlike yonder days of old "just one more turn").

Of course, I have spammed a lot in the BETA forums with regards to some ideas and requests that sprung up over the last few days of playing. The beta definitely still has some way to go - not to prep itself for release day, but rather to reach perfection in itself.

Steven, I hope you're up to the challenge. You've de-throned Diablo 3 already IMO. I honestly think you stand a damn good chance to maintain that seat against ActiBlizz :cool:

lumin
03-25-2010, 02:32 PM
Cool preview. I learned a few things I didn't know about the history of Soldak games.

I discovered Din's Curse only about a week ago, but I already love it. This is another shining example of what not only Action RPGs should emulate, but what modern gaming should be all about. It really goes without saying that most of us are tired of the same old static, life-less worlds in video games. We'd like to see our games tell a story that makes us as players feel like real heroes, not tourists.

I think the ultimate goal here for people like Shadow and other Indie developers, is that we'd like it to become viral. We'd love to see the AAA publishers take on game designs of emergent, interactive worlds so that a much wider audience can have a chance to enjoy it as well.

I am still a little disappointed in Torchlight. It seems that the designers merely decided to wrap the Diablo formula in a candy-coated wrapper with more peripheral options, but still deliver the exact same game-play experience that we've seen a hundred times.

I look forward to what Din's Curse will look like upon final release, and even thereafter as patches are released.

udm
03-26-2010, 12:21 PM
I just installed the Torchlight demo. I want to see what the hype is all about.

You are right, lumin. The problem with ARPG developers is that they don't want to tread into unexplored territories. Either that, or their imagination falls short, because Din's Curse really is quite a leap in the ARPG genre. It takes the same old, and somewhat tired, formula, then expands on it into a refreshing experience. I honestly don't see myself playing Diablo 3 because it's more of the same, but Din's Curse dynamic quest system, hybrid class mix'n'match and highly interactive environments distinguish it from the crowd. People who dismiss this as yet another Diablo clone (see RPS article for examples of ignorant people) don't know what they're missing out on.

In any case, I really hope Soldak gets the attention it more than deserves. I hope this doesn't become another case of Black Isle Studios or Sir-Tech.

To add on to my review, if there's anything that I feel Soldak should work on, besides bug fixes, it's to continue improving on the gameplay elements that make Din's Curse stand out. Soldak has already established the fact that Din's Curse is in its own league. I hope that future iterations - patches, expansions, maybe even its sequel - will keep improving on these innovations. More interactivity, more variations of emergent quests - the strong points are great, but the audience's expectations are ever-spiraling. We're here because we want to play the game envisioned by Soldak, that is Din's Curse. So, keep working on those, and the gospel shall tread the sands and brave the oceans.