Steven was kind enough to send me a preview copy of Din's Curse
. I was curious about the dynamic quest thing
, so I installed the game, made a bloodthirsty fighter, clicked on the townspeople to get "kill this, do that" quests, and jumped into a nearby dungeon. I hacked, slashed, and looted, expecting to take care of the quests in due course: i.e. if my quest is to kill some monster who's allegedly up to no good, then I'll kill him when I run into him and then the quest will be solved!
It didn’t take long for the on-screen text log to explode, illustrating adventures of Bloodsavage the assassin in my home town. While I was solving a complex problem of fitting another cartload of loot into my backpack, Bloodsavage was having a ball killing townsfolks and setting up traps. By the time I made it back, the assassin was done, the town was dead, and the game was over.
This screen captures the essence of Din’s Curse and if you can read between the lines, that’s pretty much all you need to know about the game. Since, however, I'm sensing a soul in search of answers, I cordially invite you to stay a while and listen.
Like Soldak's first game, Depths of Peril, Din's Curse is an action RPG with a twist. In Depths of Peril the twist was the competing heroes and diplomacy that was necessary to keep them off your back, the twist in Din's Curse is that while you’re planning to visit a nearby dungeon for some quality entertainment: kill a few locals, take what you like, etc, the denizens of that dungeons are planning to visit a nearby town.
Basically, the dungeons are no longer static. Things are brewing and shit is piling up, getting awfully close to the fan. If you're told that some guy needs to be rescued, it means that he's fighting mobs of monsters as we speak. He may last awhile or he may not (depends on the difficulty level). If you're told that some monsters are planning a raid, it doesn’t mean that they will be waiting forever and ever for you to show up. It actually does mean that they are planning a raid and unless you drop everything and go knock some sense into them, there will be some raiding and pillaging tonight. Once the current town is saved, you get your reward and can either continue playing at a slower, more traditional pace, or move to the next town with increasingly bigger problems and deeper dungeons.
The pacing is very fast. In my last game I moved to a new town in need of saving, descended into a dungeon, killed a few monsters, ran into a trap, which suddenly dropped me several levels lower, creating several major inconveniences. First, fighting my way out through hordes of higher level monsters was a major health hazard. Second, shortly after a renegade townie bastard sent an assassin to kill, curse, and plunder, while I was stuck in the dungeon.
As for the rest…
You get 6 classes: warrior, priest, ranger, rogue, wizard, or conjurer. Each class has 3 skill trees offering you skills that a warrior or wizard should have. What's interesting is the hybrid "class", which lets you pick any 2 skill trees. If you're having problems visualizing this concept imagine playing Diablo 2 and making a Fire Barbarian who loses 2 barbarian skill trees but gains the Fire tree of the Sorceress and thus the ability to add fire damage to his weapon and cast various fire spells.
When you picked a character, you’re thrown into a randomly generated world and explained that you were cursed by a god and now have to redeem yourself by saving various towns. Yes, I'm pretty sure that Steven can do better, but it's an action RPG, so let's give him a break. After getting equally creative quests, you dive into a randomly generated dungeon and start hacking, slashing, and looting, leaving behind a bloody trail of corpses and items you don't need. The items are sorted into familiar color-coded categories, so most people should feel right at home.
Killing monsters and taking care of the town's problems gives you XP, loot, and reputation (which is a good way to track how you're doing on that "redeem thyself mortal!" quest). Failing quests, failing to protect the townspeople, and not living up to the hero's standards lower your reputation and delay the salvation.
Overall, you can call the game Din's Curse: the Dungeon Strikes Back, which is a long overdue concept loaded with a lot potential. Dynamic quests and dynamic words are what I want to see more of, so I applaud Steven for looking for different ways to innovate the genre and push the rather stale "kill patiently waiting for you monsters" envelope.
The beta is very stable and runs flawlessly. You can get the game now for $19.99
and you'll get access to the beta immediately. The site mentions a "30 day Money Back Guarantee!", which makes it a risk-free experience.
PS. Just checked the Din's Curse forums and decided to post a few impressions to give you a better idea of what the game is like:
"...the game is quite good at keeping me on my toes.
Granted, it is frustrating that I can start a new town and have a group of monsters on floor 5 plotting a town raid, and have it be pretty much physically impossible to get past floor 3 before the raid starts (and that's with ignoring and thus failing tons of other quests) and kills two of the main questgivers before I get back and kill the monsters... and that was with my character level around 9 and having picked a monster level 2 below the default "medium" difficulty
But that sort of frustration is what I'm looking for from this game: when I walk into town I have no idea if the scenario is reasonable, or even winnable. But if I lose, there's always another town."
"sometimes you feel compelled to rush down 9 floors blindly to kill an earthquake machine or stop mobs from making peace, and a lot of the time you fail quests you don't have a chance of completing because they are too far down and the mobs too thick to get there quickly ..."
"I really, really want to like Din's Curse. The premise is fun. The graphics are tolerable. I like the character classes and the selection of nifty skills, and I like randomly generated towns and quests and dungeons. But I really, really hate the quest system. If you were looking to make a game that would cause the actual Player to feel like they've been cursed by a god, you've completely succeeded. I will not demand my 20 bucks back, but I hope that you will someday make a nice action roguelike that is Not designed only for extremely masochistic people. Alternately, I hope that you'll include an option to shut off quest time-limits. The sadistic quest system should be something along the same lines as Hardcore and Cursed. Not something that's on by default. Frankly, I'd rather Hardcore be on by default, than this quest system."
Well, it's not every day that you see a game that enjoys watching you fail. Protip: don't cast fireballs near gas leaks.
Good luck with the game, Steven.
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