Dive into Dark Delve

Review of Dark Delve on XBLIG: Try
If you like old-school fantasy RPG, this is everything you love in a more modern package.

CheckMark Games threw down the gauntlet and offered us our first shot at a pre-release review with Dark Delve:

Dark Delve is a first person dungeon crawler where the player explores a sinister dungeon and engages deadly monsters in exciting turn based combat. Create a custom group of characters to dissolve a centuries old curse in the 6+ hour campaign or test your skill in one of several unique challenges available. The dungeons abound with secrets to uncover and enemies to defeat.

At first glance, Dark Delve reminds me of classic 3D dungeon crawlers such as Bard’s Tale or Eye of the Beholder. Old-school fantasy gamers will feel at home with the basic mechanics of exploration: treasure chests, secret doors, monster encounters (planned and wandering), traps, and puzzles.

The combat system throws in a few twists, including a chain/break system and performance-based rewards and healing. As a fan of older turn-based RPGs (such as the original Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior), this was more complexity than I initially expected. However, it encourages faster, riskier kills over long, drawn-out strategies, so I spent more time on exploration than on combat (which is my preference).

The class system offers an excellent range of abilities without being excessive. Three core classes (warrior, mage, and rogue) keep character creation simple. Each class has three skill trees (such as Knight, Paladin, Assassin, and Druid), which offer a wider range of builds.

Exploration will likely make or break this game for most people. As an Explorer, I spent around 5 hours thoroughly exploring the first dungeon, and barely scratching the surface of two others. Suffice it to say, the 6 hour campaign is an underestimate for me.

However, if you’re into combat, the exploration aspect may not entice you. The first dungeon doesn’t give many hints and it’s not a small map. In addition, features like the “rest” meter can be frustrating–I didn’t keep track of the altars that act as resting points, so I found myself making trips back to the surface often.

I rate this game a Try. If you like old-school fantasy RPG, this is everything you love in a more modern package. If you’re not a fan of the genre, it probably won’t change your mind. But it’s definitely worth a try–or even two, as one eight-minute trial may not be enough to fully get a handle on all of the mechanics.

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