сряда, 21 декември 2016 г.

Dungeon Rats - The decadence goes deeper

A little more than a year ago a game came out. Role-Playing Game which caused a bit of controversy among followers of the genre. I am talking about Age of Decadence, the game which provoked you to speak with people instead of fighting them. That was the juice of the game - its deep dialogue system and how every step you took in the dark world of the game made impact on what people thought of you and how they react to you. But that was also a dangerous world and Iron Tower have created a battle system at least as complicated as their world interaction. But because of the character of AoD their otherwise great battle system did not shine enough and they apparently have decided to make a game based solely on this system. Is it any good? Read on.

They dug too deep...may be

You are a miner but for misbehaving you are sent to the lowest levels of the mine. There your job is changed and now you will solve problems for the warden in this part of the mine. You will beat stuff for him. People, giant ants, other nasty things. Anything if you want to live. Anything if you want to escape.

And sadly with this anything you need to read in this game ends. There few more lines, but if you pass them you will miss nothing. I will state it here and half of you will stop reading, but Dungeon Rats is nothing like its bigger sister - Age of Decadence. It is just a dungeon-crawl. And not a very good one at that. I am sorry, but that game was huge disappointment for me. Not because it is just a crawl game, incomparable to the massive role-play experience AoD was, but because even as dungeon crawl it is not good. Why? Here is why.

From battle to the next, nothing to do otherwise

As I mentioned here your task is to beat monsters and people so they do not get in the way of the miners. At first this sounds ok, AoD had great battle system, DR is built around this system, so it should be fine right? Well, the fights are alright, they are even very good. If you, like me, enjoy turn based fights you will enjoy those. They are like small puzzles, because often you will be outnumbered and will have to outwit your opponent more than beat them with raw power. But I am dull. I talk about the battle system presuming all of you know what I am talking about, but that is not necessarily true. So let me explain in few words what it is so cool about how battles happen in Dungeon Rats.

All battles are scripted in certain places and because of the linearity of the game you cannot avoid them. When engaged you will have positioning phase (can be decisive for the battle outcome) and then the fight starts. Everything happens in turns and all characters have Action Points which they can spend for all kind of actions - strikes, movement, reloading, re-equipping items etc. Learning to effectively manage those is another key skill you will need. Nothing so "wow" so far, right? Well what made me like the system so much is the precise control you have over the attacks of your characters. You are not just hitting and hoping to hit and if you hit to score critical, you can decide where to hit your opponent. To the head, arm, legs, torso and each of these attacks have effects if successful. You might cripple, disarm, make him bleed or outright kill him when you hit in different parts of the body. Different weapons also have different types of attacks. Sharp things can make bleed you or two handed hammers can attack in AoE. Mentioning AoE there is friendly fire in the game so be careful when you shoot or swing those big weapons around. 
Pretty awesome don't you think? So what makes me say that the game is bad even when built around such deep system? Its only fighting. That's it. The story is poor, there is no exploration, almost no NPCs to talk with, there is crafting system and you will find treasure chests here and there but the level design is so linear that you will be foolish not to open them and should check your eyes if you do not see them. In other words the game is lacking and becomes repetitive rather quickly. To the repetitiveness of  the game adds also the fact that there is almost no enemy variety. Humans and Monsters. And monsters are really boring, they will always rush towards you and lash out eventually poisoning or making you bleed. Humans on the other hand are a bit better, because you never know what they hide. Some of them may draw a bow, or trow a net at you or even some sort of nasty alchemical concoction(you can do that too). So they hold some uncertainty when you face them which keeps the fight on the edge usually and makes it interesting.

In defense of the game I must say that it is really short, around 10 hours and it is cheap. Also the system around which Dungeon Rats is built is really deep, polished and brings good amount of enjoyment while playing with it. But even these things does not make it look better in my eyes. I can not shake off the feeling that Iron Tower created Dungeon Rats and from there came the idea for Age of Decadence and after its success they decided to release this game too. Which is not necessarily bad, but if this is the case they should have worked on it so it can be the dungeon crawl game it could have been.


As always for those of you who do not have time or are too laze, here is the conclusion. 

Dungeon Rats is a turn-based dungeon crawl game built around the great, deep, polished battle system of Age of Decadence. This is a game about battle fanatics though, because there is not much else to do if you are not fighting. This is also the biggest downside of the game as it makes DR repetitive really quickly. To me it felt rushed and unfinished missing on potentially good idea and opportunity to make another interesting game in the interesting setting of their first game.

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    On a side note this is the next to the last post for this year. Expect my Top 10 Reviewed games for this year next week, which will be the last post on the blog for 2016. 

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