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Din's Curse - A Review
This hub is a review of Din's Curse, an action RPG that is more than just a Diablo-Like or Diablo Clone. By the end of this hub, I hope to show you why Din's Curse, despite being published and developed by an independent company (Soldak Entertainment) is deserving of the accolades it has received and that it has nothing to envy from other, more known, games in the action RPG genre.
So, read on as I dissect this game, piece by piece!
While Din's Curse comes from a series of games that has a rich backstory, you won't be playing this game for its story. All you need to know is that you are someone who has lived a shameful life and are now forced into a second life of servitude under the god Din. He has you traveling to different human towns that are on the brink of being destroyed by hostile forces. You are called to save these towns and their inhabitants until Din considers that your path to redemption is complete.
With that said, a neat thing about this game is the fact that you can talk to each town-person and get some information on the comings and goings of kingdoms of diverse races. It really drives home the fact that, while you're stuck here in town, there is a whole world out there. Perhaps your past transgressions involved the outside world in great detail? It doesn't matter in this game, but the fact that the game makes you think about it at all is a neat touch.
This is the core of any action RPG, and Din's Curse is no different. When you start up the game, you will create a character from one of six main classes. Each class has a total of three skill trees, which complement each other quite nicely, while also allowing you to define a particular style. For example, Priests have access to healing spells. However, you can also focus skill points in the Paladin skill tree, which eventually allows you to equip Mail Armor and take more punishment. So, if you prefer to jump into the fray, you can invest more heavily into the Paladin skill tree. Otherwise, you'd invest more in the Healer Skill tree for healing spells and buffs.
A neat thing about Din's Curse is that you can mix and match two different character class skill trees (there are 141 possible combinations!) to make a hybrid character to better suit your particular playing style. So, if I wanted to make a character that could take a huge amount of punishment, I could create a hybrid with access to the Defender skill tree (that's one of the Warrior's skill trees) and the Paladin skill tree. This aspect of the character creation system adds a lot of replayability to the game.
Of course, the cool things about Din's Curse don't end at character creation. There's actually a screen for world creation too. Here, you can set the average level of the dungeon's denizens (set it higher for a harder challenge) and the game's pacing (you can slow the pace of the game so that timed quests expire slower and monsters attack the town less frequently, or you can speed it up if you're a speed demon; you'll see what this is about in the following paragraphs).
Once you enter the world itself, you will see that it is a far cry from the static environment of the Diablo series (or virtually every other action RPG for that matter). Your event log will come to life with messages about monster uprisings in the dungeon, vendors entering and leaving town, and even altars being erected in the dungeon that have a wide variety of effects (all negative for the player and the town though).
Every major action in the dungeon has a chance of influencing the town. For example, if a monster erects an evil altar, it will curse the land and the dungeon, increasing the incidence of cursed items (items that have an associated penalty, such as a reduction of an attribute).
Also, there are quests where the quest giver will tell you to hurry in their completion. This is not just a hollow literary device to instill a sense of urgency. If you do not complete the quest in time, you will either fail it immediately, or someone else will attempt to complete it. This may result in you having to rescue the adventurer (if he or she is in over their head) or in you failing the quest once the adventurer manages to completes it.
Probably the most awe-inspiring thing about this game is what somebody from a reputable review site said, and I paraphrase: "This game has dungeons that fight back!". He wasn't kidding. Sit around in town for a while and eventually the dungeon's boss will send a scout or an assassin to try to kill the town-people. They might be able to kill the attacking monster, or they may not. Luckily, the game will alert you when the town is under attack so you can rush to the town's aid. The town can even be lost if you lose certain non-player characters (or NPCs for short), so you can't just ignore the alert either. Admittedly, this can get annoying after a while, but I like what Soldak Entertainment did with this mechanic.
The game interface borrows a lot from modern-day MMORPGs and action RPGs, with things like the skill bar and inventory space based on bags you can purchase and find in the depths of the dungeon.
The skill tree itself is more of a skill list, and that's actually a plus. You see, when you level up, you will get the usual attribute points and skill points. What makes this game unique is that you can invest in your strongest skills as soon as you get the skill points to do so (there's no such thing as prerequisite skills or level requirements in this game for skills). Also, a beautiful stroke is the fact that you can untrain your skills (at a money cost of course) at any time. Diablo II, for the longest time, forced you to create a new character to use a different build of the same character class.
There's very little voice acting in the game, and the sounds are simplistic. The music is decent, not stellar. However, none of that matters. What auditive devices the game does use serve to immerse you in the game. The gameplay itself is so entrancing that you could play the game muted and it wouldn't matter.
I left this for last because I'm not a graphics freak. As long as the game has some level of graphics, I'm satisfied. This game more than delivers on that front. While it is my humble belief that the game could use a little more polish on this front, the end product is more than playable (and looks better than a large majority of the action RPGs on the market, so all's well that ends well).
Before I finish this hub, I'd like to point out three things that set this game apart from the mainstream action RPGs:
- This game has no DRM. In this day and age of increasingly oppressive DRM, seeing a game that has no protection schemes whatsoever is refreshing. Seems at least one company still trusts its paying customers.
- The game costs only $19.99. There's also an expansion that costs another $9.99, but that's still quite the bargain.
- Finally, one copy of this game allows you to play LAN with any number of your friends. Might I add that the multiplayer component in this game is solid?
So, here's a humble request: If the game sounds cool to you, play the demo. If you like it, BUY it, don't pirate it. Soldak Entertainment is the type of company that deserves our money. So, let's support their products so they can keep making these awesome games for us, ok?
The link to Soldak's site is: http://www.soldak.com/
If you want me to talk more about any aspect of the game, please let me know in the comments section. Of course, you could just stop by and talk about the game itself; it's all good!
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)