Last week we were invited by indie studio Soldak Entertainment to review their highly-rated Din’s Curse, released last year, and the expansion Demon War, recently released in February.Â So this past seven days or so I’ve been doing extensive (and extensively fun!) research on the game.Â This title slipped entirely under my radar and I’m sure it did for many others too, so I will cover the key points of the original title as well as the expansion to get you all up to speed.
The story can be summarized thusly: You’ve been an evil git in your previous life, so the god Din has decided to give you a chance at redemption by having you save various towns until you have paid for your former sins.Â To save a town you simply need to fulfill a sufficient number of randomized quests, not necessarily all of them mind.Â Oh, and you will almost certainly fail some quests in each town.Â The nature of the game is intended to make it difficult to deal with everyone’s problems.Â No one ever thinks about how much work the hero does, right? Jeez…
Character creation is simple, you choose whether you want to be a man or woman (which has no effect on gameplay other than aesthetically – big tick for equal opportunities!), a name, and then your class.Â In the original game there are six classes available; Warrior, Rogue, Priest, Wizard, Ranger, Conjurer.Â Each of these classes has three specialties you can put skills into.Â For example, I chose Rogue, which has subsets Assassin, Thief and Trickster.
You can instead choose to create a hybrid class by joining together two specialties, such as Thief and Paladin (from the Priest archetype).Â Can’t you just picture it? ” I am merely commandeering these items for the battle against evil. You can always buy more things. Wait, you can’t?Â Because I’ve stolen your money? You must be mistaken, after all I’m a Paladin.”Â Factoring in the classic and hybrid classes, the total number of player combinations possible is 141.
After you save your first town you can move on to the next one right away or move on in your own time after you’ve finished dealing with all your items, and perhaps leftover quests.Â As you move onto other towns the monsters will scale up along with your level to keep the game challenging, and before creation there are world modifiers you can change to make things more suited to your playstyle.Â For example,Â Low Stress will remove the more stressful quests like attacks on the town, but you will receive 15% less experience in that town.Â Upon actual loading of the new world, more random modifiers will come into play, such as Undead, which means there will be a far higher percentage of undead monsters compared to other types.
The majority of loot is also subject to heavy randomisation, with some items being a big upgrade from what you’ll have already and others being labelled as “cursed,” normally coming with big drawbacks.Â However, I admit I did occasionally use cursed items, purely because the drawback was acceptable for the trade-off.Â For example, a sword I found had a chance of casting Life Steal each hit, and all I lost was some Vitality, the game’s health stat (I nicknamed it the Soul Reaver).
Now to the meat of the game – the dungeon.Â Each one is unique, like a snowflake.Â A really dangerous snowflake… with sharp edges… filled with monsters.Â Illusory walls, cave-ins, traps, obstacles and bonus giving objects litter each level.Â Objects such as the Evil Pool can provide a very nice advantage, for example, causing each of your hits to burn the mana from opponents, or, because it’s an Evil Pool, it might just poison you.Â The traps on the floor could spawn monsters, they could make you drop deep down into the dungeon, or they might give you a bonus of experience, really it’s anyone’s guess!Â Add to that the unique rooms that might crop up, such as Tombs, Prisons, Armories, Vaults, and Sanctuaries, and you’ve got an infinitely changing experience of the game.
The combat is fairly standard of an action RPG, similar to Torchlight or Diablo. You’ll have your attacks in a hotbar and you’ll click away until everything is dead.Â But with 59 monster types, each with a handful of variations, the combat is far from boring.Â In fact I took great delight in each fight, especially fighting against the Plaguebringer monsters, which when killed burst out pulses of noxious gas hurting everything within the vicinity.Â Targeting would on occasion become difficult in the bigger fights, but once I discovered I could use the keyboard to cycle through enemies within my melee range it became a lot easier.
The monsters in Din’s Curse do behave like monsters. They don’t play nice together. Seeing the intermingled denizens of the underworld beating each other senseless becomes a common sight, and a nice one at that, especially when they kill bosses for you!
This leads on to the excellent strength of the game that the world continues regardless of where you are.Â just because you decided to take five doesn’t mean anyone else did!Â Equally if you’re busy down below, a fight could break out on the surface, and villagers will start dying, and if you don’t go help them, they will keep on dying.Â Luckily if this happens you can use the teleport spots to get back to the town with no trouble, or if you aren’t nearby to one you can click a crystal in your UI to teleport back instantly, but you can only use this once per town.
The Demon War expansion adds a good deal more to the game.Â Aside from the much heavier focus on NPC interaction, with townsfolk going renegade, gossiping and generally being more entertaining, it brings with it the Demon Hunter class, adding more potential class combinations, three more monster types (along with their many variations), more world modifiers, like the plague, more quests and lets you, to quote the game’s website, “Basically experience a lot more of what makes Din’s Curse incredibly unique.”
In sum, Din’s Curse is an excellent game, for the pure value of what you get for your money, it’s a game with excellent replayability and a lot of surprises.Â In fact for all the time I’d played it I only had one genuine criticism of the game, which is the villagers optional quests to basically take a bit of your money or your food, because they just plum can’t figure out how to find either by themselves, and I’m almost certain that type of quest was only added with the expansion.Â That said, you don’t have to do those quests, I personally let most of them starve.Â And the only bug I’d encountered was that a hallway can become blocked by a monster that’s attempted to spawn in front of you.Â This isn’t a major problem, as the game can be saved anywhere, so you can just quit to the menu and reload.
And if those are the only two problems I can think of in the base game and expansion, that’s damned good for a game in this day and age!Â So really there’s no reason not to at least check out the game demo at www.soldak.com, and if you find you like it, buy it.Â Go and enjoy those beautiful, dangerous snowflakes!