PDA

View Full Version : A fan's review


Jorlen
04-26-2010, 04:53 PM
Thought I'd share my review with the community. Let me know what you think!

I'll admit it here and now, I'm a sucker for action RPGs of this type. Nothing cures a bad day like mowing through hordes of enemies and plundering their dungeons in the never ending quest for the perfect character. It becomes a deep addiction, and most of you know exactly what I'm talking about. You've been warned; Din's Curse will fuel this addiction.

Din's Curse is a diablo-inspired game, but fear not because it adds several spins and innovations to a fun and established genre. The story is rather lean, but seeing as it's usually not the focus of these kinds of games, I'm perfectly fine with that. If you are too, and love to travel the depths of a dungeon, fighting strange monsters, hoarding loot, leveling up and completing quest after quest, then read on, because Din's Curse is definitely worthy of your attention.

The premise is that you've been a pretty bad dude all your life, and the god Din has summoned you to save some towns from evil in order to improve your bad rep. Obviously, you'll do so by slaying countless monsters and questing for the townsfolk until you save the town itself, and then move on to the next one.

The thing to keep in mind here, is that Din's Curse mainly focuses on randomly generated elements to keep the replay value high. But, in a nutshell, you get to a town, do through the dungeon depths, do the quests, save the town, and move on to do the same thing. Some may see this as repetitive or short, but the game is designed with this in mind to encourage replays and focus on character progression.

A fairly common staple of the genre in question is having randomly generated dungeons. Din's Curse goes beyond that, for each town is randomly generated as well as the dungeons, meaning the layout will always be different, and you'll get different kinds of NPCs every time. In one instance, you can have two armorsmiths and a vendor, and in other, two weaponsmiths, a gambler and no vendor at all. The houses that the townsfolk reside in will be placed in different areas, their names changed, etc. Dungeons within each town will have different layouts, textures, maze styles in order to keep it fresh.

Another nice feature is the ability to create your own hybrid class instead of selecting one of the 6 main classes. You'll want to choose wisely however, because unlike the "pure" classes that have 3 skill trees, when you create your own class, you can only select 2 of them. It's a trade-off and works well; one less skill tree for having the ability to make your own combo of choise. This mechanic encourages experimentation and versatility. I've spent at least 15 hours just messing around with the 141 possible combinations. Some work really well, others not so much, and that's part of the fun is discovering these things yourself. Then again, if that's not your cup o' tea, just use one of the pre-defined classes with 3 skill trees fully knowing they are well balanced.

Speaking of hybrids, my last creation was a healer / necromancer which proved to be a ton of fun. The healer tree allows me to heal myself and my summoned minions and regen mana out of combat, and the necromancer aspect allows me to do plenty of damage to one enemy or groups, and summon skeletons or revive a particularly powerful foe to fight by my side. The flipside of course, is that I'm quite weak and can only wear armor and cloth, and my melee skills are definitely not the focus. Suffice to say that being able to create your own class is a most excellent feature, and the only other title I've played that allowed this was Titan quest, so it was one of the main draws for me.

As far as the gameplay goes, it pretty much works like Diablo does, albeit with a few twists. As you'd expect, you get quests, complete them, and kill tons of enemies in the process, gathering loot and experience. Of course, during your adventures, there will be plenty of things to try and deter you from becoming a hero. Things like... Traps! I'm talking about some really nasty stuff, and I'm sure some of you roguelike fans will relate to this. Traps will come in various and nasty flavours. Some examples include teleportation spells that will transport you to random location on the same floor, or even worse, a higher floor in the middle of a pack of ravenous enemies. How about running to that treasure chest only to walk on an almost hidden circle that summons a horde of nasties 360 degrees around your character. If you're not used to using four letter words, there's a high chance you'll be changing your habits, because you will be surprised and you'll need to keep your wits about you and act fast. If you ask me, it's great! Too many dungeon crawlers have relatively painless traps that are just simple distractions, making them free of consequence... and that's no fun, right?

I'd hate to discourage all you would-be adventurers with all this talk about demise. Unless you choose the hardcore mode, death isn't permanent, and you have the chance to get to your soulstone before it vanishes in order to significantly reduce your experience debt. So don't worry, you will thrive and survive to level up! And once you do, you get skill points along with 5 stat points to increase stuff like strength, dexterity, vitality, intelligence, etc. Instead of having to unlock the higher tier skills in the tree, they simply cost more skill points and cash to open up. So if you want them, just save up the skill points and cash. This is a nice touch, ensuring that you're never stuck with skills you aren't going to use. To make this even better, you can remove skill points at any time, as long as you're willing to pay for this privilege. The flexibilty of this system just goes to show you how much experience that Soldak has in creating these gems. This is after all, Soldak's third game, and all three of them focus on dungeon crawling. If you end up enjoying Din's Curse, I highly recommend you check out their other two games, Depths of Peril (2007) and Kivi's Underworld (2008).

Moving forward, another interesting feature is that monsters won't just sit in the dungeon waiting for you to come vanquish them. While you're out there trying to save the town, enemies will fight each other, level themselves up, and often come up to the town to attack the townsfolk. Yes, they can even kill your vendors and quest givers, so it's going to be in your best interest to rush to their rescue whenever the prompt comes up. Not only does this dynamic add to the realism that you're actually on a time line, it also introduces a frantic element to the usually predictable gameplay found in this genre. If you walk away from the game, pause it, because otherwise you'll come back to see your town devastated and monsters running the show. It's bloody brilliant!

Quests will also pop up randomly and some of them have to be done in a timely fashion, else you will fail them. At one point, I caught the plague and it was spreading out to everyone in town. When I went back up to speak to the NPCs, one of them had the quest to cure it as an option. Another time, I got a notification that a thief was stealing items from the vendors. Apparently, monsters setup a recon totem on one of the lower floors that allow thieves to easily infiltrate the town. Once I got back to town I couldn't see the thief at all, because he was using his stealth skill, so I had to be patient. And of course, so long as the recon totem remains, the thieves will keep coming back.

Some of the quests could use a bit of tweaking, however. Escort quests or those that involve finding NPCs in the dungeon often end far too quickly. At times I will just be approaching someone I need to rescue only to have them instantly die for whatever reason. Using Area of Effect spells that target multiple enemies at once tend to cause cave-ins. While we have the benefit of knowing when to run away from disaster, NPCs or your summoned allies do not recognize the urgency and that usually means their death. With no means of controlling them, this does get frustrating at times.

Do not fret however, because if things aren't really going well, you can simply re-create the entire instance (town, dungeon, quests, NPCs) whilst maintaining your character, items and progression intact. Because the world creation system is so flexible, you can choose to level up your enemies for more challenge, or make them weaker. You also have other options, such as slow pace and fast pace. Slow pace means less dynamic events, such as town raids and also a lower monster frequency, at the cost of 15% experience. Fast pace means even more frantic gameplay, but the upside is you'll gain a 15% bonus to experience gained. Once one of your characters reaches level 25, you can also unlock higher difficulties and the hardcore mode (permanent death) - roguelike fans are sure to love this feature, and the general style of the game compliments this very well.

All of these things I've discussed basically boil down to a very flexible, replayable and extremely fun dungeon crawler that's light on story, yet full of personality and options to suit a number of different playstyles. You can also play this game co-operatively online, although I haven't had the chance to test this out myself. At a price of $25 for the full version, with a playable demo, you simply cannot go wrong.

Graphics and sound are quite decent, models are in 3D and look quite good with a decent variety of creatures, some famliar, some strange and creepy, while the enviroments are isometric 2D, much like Diablo. The world itself and textures aren't the highlight of the visuals, but they work well. A plethora of graphic options allows you to select a suitable resolution and effects such as AA, detail levels, texture filtering and so forth. With my aging computer rig that's plugged to my HDTV, at 1920x1080 the fonts were well scaled and perfectly legilble, and the game looked and played smoothly. The music tracks included do a good job of adding ambience and there's a good variety in the style.

I have run into a few bugs during my 30 or so hours of gameplay, but nothing crippling. One of the more annoying bugs is that I cannot assign any actions to my other 3 mouse buttons (other than left and right-click). For someone at a computer desk with easy access to a keyboard, that's not a major issue, but I'm playing PC games on my couch, and it's always nice to rely on the mouse alone if I can. The UI allows me to bind functions to the mouse but when activated, nothing happens. Luckily the developer is very active on the forums, and there is a bugs section for users to post their problems so they may be addressed via patches.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Din's Curse. Grab the demo, see if you like it, you have nothing to loose. Support your indie devs, the price tag is more than reasonable for the hours of entertainment you'll get from this game. Be warned however, the game is extremely addicting!

- written by Jorlen

graffen69
04-26-2010, 07:20 PM
Yup, yup and yup. I subscribe to all above.
I would like to mention that the game uses the save feature by itself but the player cannot (other then when exiting the game ofc). This to me is a HUGE plus. When you die (Hardcore players: Yup, it's a question of WHEN not IF) you get an exp debt to pay off. If you can get hold of your tombstone (a marked place where you died) before a certain time runs out (i never had any problems, not sure how much time you got but suffice to say its enough) you loose most of your debt. In the single player mode you can pause the game to make adjustments or just to go boil some tea, but in the multiplayer mode (if youīre playing more then 1 player that is, as of Version 1.001 you can now pause the game in MP-mode as long as youre the only player in the game) you better go place yourself in the most safe spot you can find if your leaving your desk, else you might be dead when you come back. And as stated above, even if placing yourself in the middle of the town square you are not really safe anywhere since mobs can start to assult the town itself.

Also the focus of the game lies on the living environment and is the key element of the games replayability. Dinīs Curse living world (as well as Soldaks first game ”Depths of Peril”) are one of itīs kind (at least to my knowledge) for a game of this genre (i call it "a living hackīn slash”, not sure the developers sign to that). The only other games that i can think of that has such living enviroments are MMORPGīs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games). Ofc those games are multi million dollar projects but Soldak has really succeded in fleshing out itīs world, just on a much, much smaller scale, namely a single Town. Winning (as in saving the town) or loosing (as in not) arenīt the main reason you play the game. In fact i daresay its because you never know if you will win or not that are the reasons you keep on coming back. Most of the time you will win though.

As a side note in the Demo version 0.910 it is way much harder to ”win” a game (by the above standards) then in the full game. This should be taken strongly into consideration before the actual full game is available in a demo version, when making reviews about this game. Iīve seen reviews based on Dinīs Curse demo game using words such as ”Sado machosistic” and to those players i can only say: try the full version.
As an indie Hackīn Slash, Dinīs Curse brings a whole new gaming experience level to achive.

9,5/10

TheRani
04-26-2010, 08:13 PM
As a side note in the Demo version 0.910 it is way much harder to ”win” a game (by the above standards) then in the full game. This should be taken strongly into consideration before the actual full game is available in a demo version, when making reviews about this game. Iīve seen reviews based on Dinīs Curse demo game using words such as ”Sado machosistic” and to those players i can only say: try the full version.
As an indie Hackīn Slash, Dinīs Curse brings a whole new gaming experience level to achive.

9,5/10

I do recall posting that I wasn't masochistic enough to enjoy Din's Curse, but that was during beta testing before the difficulty got toned down to what it is now, before the demo even existed. I've never played the demo. If the demo is based on an earlier build of DC before the difficulty was toned down, I can totally understand where those reviewers may be coming from.

graffen69
04-26-2010, 10:45 PM
Yup, the beta versions were even harder then the demo version. It would be a shame if they missed the brilliance of this game becuz of an early stage beta or a demo that wasnīt fully balanced yet. Dinīs Curse is such a rare gem in the world of computer games.

Shadow
04-27-2010, 11:10 AM
The demo is based on one of the later beta builds after most of the balancing issues. It is lacking some of the cool full release stuff like statues being build for you by the townspeople.

Good review btw Jorlen.

Jorlen
04-27-2010, 12:46 PM
The demo is based on one of the later beta builds after most of the balancing issues. It is lacking some of the cool full release stuff like statues being build for you by the townspeople.

Good review btw Jorlen.

Thanks!

I'm trying to get it on gamespot as I enjoy posting in their user-review section, but sadly the game page for Din's Curse still says TBA 2010 which locks us out of being able to add in user reviews.

I've contacted their technical support and requested that it be opened up, and I'll post my review there as soon as it is. Seeing as I feel I've underpaid for the game, I want to try and spread the word as much as possible.