From the minds at Brain Seal Entertainment comes Dark Quest 2, an RPG inspired by board game classics Hero Quest and Warhammer Quest. Having discovered these board games during my school years and falling in love with them, I was very eager to sink my teeth into this title and take a trip down memory lane.
Our adventure starts with a lone barbarian in pursuit of an evil magician. The first mission serves as a brief introduction to the mechanics of the game. Those of you who are familiar with titles like Shining Force, X-Com, or Mario Kingdom Battle will be familiar with this style of game although this is a simplified version. The dungeon is broken into individual rooms, with each room being made of tiles. Each character can move a certain amount of tiles in their movement radius then attack or use various skills. You’ll continue this cycle, collecting treasure along the way or triggering the odd concealed trap until you eventually stumble across the exit.
You and an array of heroes that you can hire along the way will carry on delving into dungeon after dungeon with little more purpose than to kick some caboose (oh, and catch that pesky Magician) discovering new enemy types, collecting equipment, and acquiring skill points which you can use post-dungeon.
After you’ve finished murdering and pillaging your way through the dungeon, you’ll return to the town hub where you can rest up, revive heroes, hire more heroes, and do some shopping for potions or equipment. Healing your heroes turned out to be a waste of gold though as when starting my next dungeon, my heroes were fully healed regardless. Death is quite forgiving also as it takes a percentage of gold to heal so if you’re broke, cheap resurrection! Yay!
Each character has its own set of 9 skills, some active use, some passive, with each skill having a limited amount of uses per dungeon which can vary from around 1 to 3 uses, with the odd skill going higher. Some of these skills rapidly become overpowered and easily abusable, which imagine for some will be great fun, but for me rendered others characters and skills purely decorational. My monk, for example, can life drain anyone in the current room and instantly kills them, absorbing part of the damage as health. Although capped at 3 uses, this made any real challenging enemies easy to dispose of in the first turn without having to fight through the ranks. This same character was also able to covert an enemy to a friendly target, then use those as meat sponges or to body block reinforcements. I won’t delve into every character’s imbalance but let’s just say it isn’t an isolated occurrence.
An extra feature I quite enjoy is you’re able to replay previously completed dungeons, only this with each revisit the difficulty ramps up to offer more challenge (and to stop you grinding yourself OP) which I’ve seen negatively received by the community on Steam but the developers have stood fast on their design choice and good on them for doing so, I say!
Graphics & Sound
The isometric levels and character models are all lovingly hand-drawn, which is a style I often enjoy. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much variation in level design so it rapidly became repetitive. A further drawback is sometimes It would have pieces of scenery in the foreground which would obscure part of the level, which would make moving or attacking certain tiles quite difficult.
The background music has its own charm in the town, and in dungeon helps set the ambient mood. It’s not blaring and sits in the background well enough that you won’t find yourself reaching for that mute after you’ve been playing for hours.
The game does also offer up to 4 player cooperative play which unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to try as there is no matchmaking system. The multiplayer is invite only, so being the sole owner of Dark Quest 2 on my friend list, I didn’t have a guinea pig to test it with.
Although not multiplayer, the game does contain tools to be able to make your own custom maps and quests, as well as play those by other players which could make for more replayability or custom dungeons to torture your friends within cooperative play.
A nostalgia-inducing RPG reminiscent of Hero Quest, which although fun at first, quickly becomes stale and repetitive. With its cheap price tag, it could be worth picking up for a few hours of fun with some friends but for me, it falls just short of the mark.
There is the groundwork here for a game with potential. With a UI overhaul, some skill balancing, a bit of storytelling and variation in scenery and they could be on to a winner. I’ll be curious to see what they learn from this title and what they bring us next.
I want to thank Brain Seal Entertainment for providing me with a key and the opportunity to review their game.
Title: Dark Quest 2
Developer: Brain Seal Ltd
Release Date: 6 Mar, 2018