I'd first heard about this game when Penny Arcade did their little thing about it a few weeks ago, but I'd forgotten about it since then. Then Tuesday during Raid, one of the guildies mentioned they'd been playing it and that it was pretty good. So I decided to try it out.

Pretty good is a complete insult to how good the game is. This may be one of the best games I've ever played. Then again, your mileage may vary. It's a Diablo style game, except it doesn't have any of those annoying and wide open field levels like that damned desert in Act 2. It's got a cartoony style, which is about as close to cel-shaded as you can get without actually being cel-shaded. It almost feels like what Diablo 1 should have been if computers at the time didn't suck completely.

They add a lot of features which make this game much.....easier? I think that's the word I'm looking for. Can't think of a better one anyways.

You get a pet. Either a cat or a dog, though which is cosmetic and makes no difference to what they can do. They accompany you down into the mines which go on forever (and have things in them down at the bottom which should not be at the bottom of mines like jungles). They fight in battle with you. They have their own inventory space and can equip trinkets. You also have the option to send your pet back to town and sell everything in their inventory for cash money.

The game also has several spots in the mines where you can fish. The fish you catch are either eaten by you or your pet. If the fish is one you can eat, then it gives you a buff like extra experience or extra magic damage. If it's one your pet can eat, it transforms them into something else for a limited time. Most of the time it turns them into various enemies such as elementals or goblins. Each of these forms has their own weaknesses, strengths, and spells which can completely change the outcome of a fight.

You have your standard ability trees, but you also have four slots in which you can equip spells that you find or buy as scrolls. These can be spells like fireballs, healing spells, silence, or even identify items. This allows you to give your character a greater amount of diversity than what the simple trees offer. Another thing is that your pet also has two spells slots, so they can cast fireballs and heal you too (but....don't give your pet the healing spell. They will spam it every 5 seconds and the heal sound will drive you insane).

I've been playing the game on normal difficulty with my Vanquisher and it feels like I'm playing on Very Easy difficulty. Seriously. I put my points into Ranged damage, Critical strikes, and Ricochet. All the rest of my points I'm putting in things like extra gold found and lower vendor prices (there really isn't much else to spend them on when your skillset is one spell).

I can run around basically one-shotting everything that isn't an elite boss monster (and I three shot those). My normal ranged attacks have a certain limit, but Ricochet has an unlimited range and is able to pierce all the way through the enemies' front, organs, breakfast, and out the back to others behind him. The shots bounce off walls and back two or three times before disappearing. Using one shot, you can clear out a group of enemies numbering 10 or so. I'm hoping things get a bit more challenging on harder difficulties. I'm planning to play an Alchemist when I start one of those games.

Regardless of the difficulty, the game takes me back to those Diablo years that were spent late at night, descending into catacombs to clear out demon infested halls and grabbing piles of loot. Good times. There is no multi-player, so you can't play with or against others. Which isn't so bad as it also means you can't have others help you cheat by trading you all the best items. Not that you'd need them.

I recommend anyone who loves dungeon crawls to give it a shot. It won't disappoint.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 11/27/2009 03:27:00 AM


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