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[Review] Tangledeep – Nintendo Switch

Reviewed by Thomas

  • Developer: Impact Gameworks
  • Publisher: Impact Gameworks
  • Release Date: 31/01/2019
  • Price: $19.99 / £15.79

Intro

Tangledeep promises a magical adventure. Offering a lush world, both in gorgeous landscapes and deep gameplay with a forest of content. I had the opportunity to explore this engrossing world and step into the shoes of its heroin. Is Tangledeep truly a magical experience or does it get tangled up along the way?

Can’t Touch This

The tale of Tangledeep starts humbly. You’re not out to save the world from impending doom or avert a massive crisis. You begin in a small village deep underground. Existing for generations, no one remembers what the world is like on the surface. Due to the dangers lurking between your town and the world above, few have ventured to find the way out. The inhabitants below have a special bond with nature called the Touch. Almost like a calling or an urge, Touch is what provokes people into exploring beyond the safety of home.  Our heroine diverges from the norm in that she doesn’t feel the Touch. Yet a thirst for knowledge of what lies beyond is what eventually prompts her journey upward. As she ascends an ever dangerous labyrinth, she begins to unfold the truth of their existence.

Here Comes the Hammer

Tangledeep is an adventure role-playing game. It plays out like an overhead roguelike dungeon-crawler. There are a few modes of gameplay you can chose before setting foot in the world of Tangledeep. Adventure mode which lets you attempt ascension again and again if you die or heroic which has permadeath. Heroic mode lets you keep saved money and goods if you stored them at the town bank. Other features carry over such as town progress and feats or jobs unlocked. The final option is hardcore mode. Not only do you lose your character progression if you die but the whole save file is scrubbed. Town progress and other unlocked perks will be purged.

Each world you start is procedurally generated. If you revisit a floor it will be the same as the first time you were there. This makes backtracking easy if you need to grind or search for more loot. As you traverse each level you move in a grid based pattern. Each step costs one move. This is important to remember while in combat. If you try to flee a ranged attacker, you’ll suffer a barrage of hits while seeking safety. Each floor is masked in darkness and each step reveals the lay of the land. Even by finding the route upward early on, I always sought to uncover every square inch of each floor. A dangerous yet rewarding pursuit. Too often I got carried away and rushed into an ambush and met my demise.

Tangledeep uses a job system as the vehicle to drive combat. You aren’t tied to your starting job and can pay to change at any time. My first playthrough I changed my job frequently, never quite mastering one style of gameplay. I learned the folly of this and began anew, focusing on just a few professions. Experience and job points are gained after defeating foes and in turn fuel your growth. Job points unlock skills in an order that you determine. This gives you a chance to learn the best strategy while sampling a variety of skills. If you do change your job at any point, you keep learned skills and can use them freely with your new class.

Combat takes place on the same grid based map that exploration does. Controlling the battlefield is just as important as dishing out high amounts of damage to your enemy. Facing an opponent one-on-one usually isn’t a problem but you can quickly become surrounded if not careful. Even weaker enemies in throngs can send you back to town with heavy penalties or end your crusade altogether. Battles are turn based and your enemies have every opportunity that you do. Covering the ground in spikes or poison make it tough for tank class characters to get into the fight. Likewise, if you chose a ranged profession you can be pulled into a horde of enemies. This exploitation of your weakness means you have to carefully think out each move and skill use. Bringing a pet into battle can help even the odds at a high price if you pet is eliminated. A pet is essentially any enemy you have injured and knocked out to take home with you. Using a ranged pet when you’re a warrior or opposite is a helpful strategy as you can offset the amount of foes trying to take you down and the disadvantage of your particular job.

As you explore the labyrinth and continue your climb upward, there are occasionally different paths to take. This introduced different enemies and a variety of environments. Since you can backtrack, it was always enjoyable to see where the diverging paths led. Getting side quests from town also made this necessary as you are often tasked with seeking out a unique dungeon. Some of the extra dungeons you find are filled with challenging enemies while some posed no threat. Each had a reward for seeking it out and taking time to explore the unknown. Tangledeep has a lot to offer by way of exploration so you never get bored. Even after finding all of the optional dungeons, you can enter any of your weapons in a dreamlike state. Entering your item opens up endless dungeons with more foes to conquer. Aside from earning more loot, you can also power up your favorite weapon or piece of armor this way.

Tangledeep offers a variety of customization options at the onset of a new game. These modifications let you tailor the game to be easier or more difficult. In addition, throughout each level is a special loot chest called Pandora’s Box. You have the option to open it for bonus experience at an exchange of permanently strengthening enemies. These modifiers and the various job classes give Tangledeep a lot of replay value.

The Way We Roll

I couldn’t help but sense a hint of familiarity with the music in Tangledeep. I enjoyed the soundtrack and certain parts made me reminisce about my favorite AAA RPG’s from the 90’s. Not only the music, the sounds of combat and items also made me nostalgic for games like Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger.

The art style is equally beautiful. The scenes are made up of 16-bit graphics and feature a wide variety of dungeons to see. Each job class comes with a unique look and the variety of monsters was perfect. A few times I did see some graphical errors. One character my heroine interacted with should have been in the background. However, the overlay wasn’t done correctly so my heroine who was in the foreground had the person in the background overlapping her. This also happened with a few trees. Normally when you pass behind a tree, the image of your character becomes slightly shadowed to give a 3D appearance. This incorrect overlay made it look tacky.

Pumps and a Bump

Luckily the graphical issues were few and far between. Not game breaking or even inconvenient, those problems only hurt the sense of immersion when they occured. A few of the bigger issues were sparse as well. I did encounter an instance where my save file was corrupt and I had to start over. There were also a few cases where the game froze and progress was lost.

My time spent with Tangledeep was primarily in handheld mode. For a game that was ported from PC, that is a huge accomplishment. The team did a fantastic job bringing a game which would rely heavily on a mouse and hotkeys to the Nintendo Switch. It felt like the game was built for this platform.

Final wrap

One of the marked signs of an epic role playing game for me is if I can feel a sense of adventure without leaving my home. Growing up, I spent a lot of my youth in the Uinta mountains. I loved exploring verdant forests with a thick canopy of pines and aspens. The sun masked by foliage, only scattered beams of light piercing occasionally. The feeling of adventure when you find a long lost cabin, overgrown and consumed by vegetation. Or finding an abandoned logging camp from the early 1900’s where the buildings are little more than skeletal remains and collapsed structures. It’s hard to recapture long past adventures working full time and as a father of three. That is why video games is such a draw for me. An immersive game can pull me in and give me a taste of adventure from the confines of my home. Tangledeep did just that. Not knowing what lurks around the corners and the push to climb higher sucked me in. Even though it mostly plays out like a roguelike game, Tangledeep is listed as Adventure in the eShop. I can’t argue with that because an adventure is what I experienced.

Pros

  • Enjoyable Adventure
  • Highly Replayable
  • Multiple Customization Options
  • Adjustable Difficulty

Cons

  • Tough Learning Curve

Verdict
Tangledeep delivered on its promise to be magical and is a worthwhile journey for the veteran explorer or budding trailblazer.
5/5


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