Nintendad

[Review] Dark Quest II – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Brain Seal Entertainment
  • Publisher: Brain Seal Entertainment
  • Release Date: 27/02/2019
  • Price: £8.99 / $ 10.99
  • Review code provided by: Brain Seal Entertainment

It’s a roll of the dice!

Full disclosure first: I don’t like board games. Never have and never will. I also can’t understand the admiration some people have for them. That said, I’m a big fan of RPGs and my love for them reaches back to my Commodore C=64 days playing games like Bard’s Tale II.

So, letting me review Dark Quest II, which is a video game taking its core mechanics and inspiration from the very popular Hero Quest board game, was a test of my luck. Let’s see if my luck stat kept me out of trouble!

There once was an evil wizard with an army of goblins. Said wizard waited till the king and all his nobles came together at the king’s castle and then threw the castle into ruins, secluded himself in the dungeons below the castle and waited.

Needless to say the dungeons are both filled with riches and goblins protecting them. It is your task, being a barbarian, to assemble a party and to venture forth into the dungeons to get rid of the evil wizard.

It’s the standard trope of good versus evil and actually works quite well to get me into dungeon crawler mood. A sophisticated story would be nice, but this is enough to let me pick up my sword and kill some goblins.

Isometric exploration!

Dark Quest II features a village, presented as a central hub and populated with various people that will help you between your quests. A blacksmith will craft weapons and armour for you while an alchemist offers potions. You can learn new tricks or special abilities from the mage. The tavern is the right place to recruit more party members. The gravedigger will help you resurrect comrades fallen in battle and Lizie’s elixirs can give you stat boosts for your next dungeon visit. Of course, you need to have copious amounts of gold or blue potions to actually buy something. If you are low on funds, the merchant will happily exchange unused equipment or trinkets found in the dungeons into gold. Once you are ready, speak to the elder to go onto your next quest.

The dungeons are presented in an isometric view. Moving through them is a bit quirky at first, because the direction in which you point the stick of your left joycon often isn’t the direction in which the cursor moves on screen. It takes some time getting used to and has even resulted in sending my forces to the wrong places during battles. You control each of your party members individually, turn-by-turn. This is nice during the turn-based battles, but also important for simply moving through the dungeons as there can be traps hidden in the floor tiles. Using a character with the skill to detect traps as your advance unit might be a life saver.

As your objective is to finish off the evil wizard, you will have to find him first. To do that, you have to move through the dungeons one quest at a time. With each quest you master, more parts of the dungeons will be available for you till you finally get into the hideout.

As already said, you start of as a sword wielding barbarian. More characters can be recruited into your party as the game progresses. You have a choice of the standard fantasy warriors: archer, wizard, dwarf, among others. Your party has a three member maximum and all of the characters have different skills, so you have to plan carefully before each quest. After each quest you spend your gold on upgrades and potions. You can spend special blue potions found in the dungeons to upgrade your special abilities, too. Then it’s off to the next quest for you.

Apart of a single player “story” mode, there is also a couch co-op mode to bring friends to the dungeons with you. The difficulty setting is sufficient: easy which gives you three points of extra health, normal and hard which has permadeath for your heroes. There are no unlockable goodies present in the game.

My eyes, my ears!

Crawling through the dungeons is a pleasure to the eye. The hand-drawn graphics are nice to look at and the monsters and heroes are sufficiently well animated even if they move a bit stilted. This game is not a mess of retro pixels, but has a printed cardboard feel to it. (As its main influence is a board game, this was to be expected.) Being a dungeon crawler, one expects a high number of repeating tiles or other visuals in the netherworld and Dark Quest II doesn’t disappoint. The dungeons are dark, gritty and full of waiting monsters.

The sound effects fit the graphics. They are pretty well done, but nothing to write home about. The same can be said for the soundtrack. It’s ok and doesn’t get on your nerves even after a long play session. Sound and graphics together create a nice atmosphere to keep you playing.

Attack of the creepy crawlies!

Apart of the difficulties while moving my characters I didn’t encounter anything game breaking. Once you’ve accustomed to the control scheme, Dark Quest II plays well. The game is not resource heavy, nor very demanding in the action department, so it’s an ideal game for playing handheld, which is my preferred way of playing in any case. Playing docked on a big screen is nice, too, but not a must.

Alea jacta est!

Dark Quest II is a well executed dungeon crawler featuring turn-based mechanics. Everything about it is well thought out and the single player will keep you occupied for a few hours. The couch co-op mode is a nice addition, but I wonder if many people will actually use it.

The game does not revolutionise its genre, but is a solid addition and a good choice if you need to give in to a dungeon crawler itch.

Pros

  • Limited crafting options.
  • Short individual quests that are ideal for playing on the go.
  • Couch co-op.

Cons

  • No traditional experience points given.
  • Controls need getting used to.
  • A lot of special skills can only be used once per dungeon

Verdict
If you have the itch to crawl through a dungeon, you could do worse than Dark Quest II.
4/5

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