Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor0
Din’s Curse Review
Review Notes: A copy of the game and its companion DLC ‘Demon War’ were provided for review purposes.
Din’s Curse is a point-and-click action RPG dungeon crawler in the vein of such games as Torchlight and Diablo, making use of the theme of medieval fantasy where magic and myth are intertwined. As part of Soldak Entertainment’s Depths of Peril series, Din’s Curse keeps the traditional style and elements found in the earlier release while adding in various new mechanics to expand the anthology.
This is one of those rare Indies that puts a unique spin on its genre by introducing new elements that make it stand apart from other action RPGs. While it does use standard aspects found in nearly every dungeon crawler, it also brings a host of new features–like enhanced NPC interaction, constant world changes or almost never-ending gameplay–to make it a memorable and enjoyable experience for PC gamers.
Soldak Entertainment’s fantasy-infused role-playing game is a mix of old and new, bringing with it a feeling of classic nostalgia with its lower end graphics that compliment its inventive dungeon crawler mechanics. Din’s Curse keeps the standard character customization and skill trees that gamers are used to, while implementing new features like an ever-expanding world that doesn’t just sit still but changes and grows as you play.
This blend of classic gaming sensibilities with new and original mechanics is a nice touch, and is favorable for gamers who have always wanted to customize their experience.
The game’s story revolves around an original take on the “Hero’s Journey” archetype, putting emphasis on the theme of spiritual redemption. Keeping a traditional medieval fantasy backstory with legendary kings and quests of glory, Din’s Curse begins with an era of strife and struggle.
The Third War was waged and a crusade against the monster races of Aleria was launched. The armies of man and demon clashed across the land, bringing aftershocks of destruction and havoc in its wake. The war, meant to help mankind by banishing the monster races, instead heralded a new age of desperation and strife…putting Aleria on the brink of doom.
It was in this age that our anti-hero was resurrected by Din, the champion of gods, to help rebuild the ruinous land of Aleria. Having squandered his life in the pursuit of deceit and treachery, the main character is offered a chance in redemption. If refused, he will remain forever cursed and damned for eternity, forced to walk the mortal realm forever.
Starting small and helping town by town, aiding the weak and poor alike, our protagonist slowly rekindles the flame of compassion within him and learns what it means to be a hero. It is only within this transformation from a misanthropic thief to a paragon of worldly deeds can he purge the curse that so afflicts him. Only by becoming everything he wasn’t in his past life can he truly attain peace and rest his weary soul.
Din’s Curse uses the same basic point and click formula found in many dungeon crawlers, and utilizes many of the same mechanics such as multi-level dungeons full of monsters, a centralized home base in the form of a town, skills and attributes upon level-up, and an expansive inventory to collect items and gear. This Indie keeps the traditional dark and mysterious dungeon-delving feel that defines the genre, putting emphasis on the duality of both worlds of man and monster.
When players start the game they choose from six character classes: Warrior, Rogue, Priest, Ranger, Conjurer and Hybrid. The Hybrid class allows players to map out their own proficiencies among every character’s skill tree, but instead of getting three trees, they only get two. The preset classes are actually quite well-defined and a bit complicated, containing multiple proficiencies and passive abilities that are relevant to their class.
For example, Warriors start out being able to use chain mail and ringmail, and Rangers specialize in bow attacks. Their skills are tailored for both relevance and flexibility, making each class a unique choice. The Demon War DLC adds the Demon Hunter character class which possesses many unique and powerful abilities that range from offensive demon spells to defensive Wards.
Every class has their own unique set of skills and abilities which define their roles in battle. Each character has three skill trees filled with a flexible array of powerful spells, many of which can range from active spells to passive abilities. The ability trees are the heart of any RPG and represent the player’s preferences, and Din’s Curse hits the bull’s-eye in this regard with an impressive variety of useful and balanced skills that are fun to use–especially the Conjurer’s Tornado attack or the Wizard’s elemental spells.
The variety of unique skills and abilities are quite dynamic in nature and it can take some experimentation to find what abilities work well with one another. A great thing about Din’s Curse is that you can respec your skills at any time, but each skill must be purchased with both currency and skill points, so constantly respec’ing all the time can be very costly.
Like many role-playing games, Din’s Curse relies on an expansive attributes system that details a characters strengths and weaknesses. The attributes are quite dynamic and affect multiple parameters in the game, adding to the depth of the game’s intrinsic mechanics. All attributes can be increased with enchanted items and gear; even potions can provide a buff. Each of the attributes and their stat effects are:
- Strength - Max Damage and Crushing Blow chance.
- Dexterity - Defense bonuses, Attack, Deep Wounds chance and Magic Crushing Blow chance.
- Vitality - Max Health, Health regen and additional Stamina bonuses.
- Intelligence - Max Mana, Man regen, Critical Hit chance for Spells, and Perception.
- Spirit - Mana regen, Elemental Resistances, and Mana bonuses.
There is a three-part meter system–akin to The Elder Scrolls series–that displays Health (green), Mana (blue) and Stamina (yellow). Every action whether its walking or attacking uses Stamina, and when the bar is empty players will suffer a decrease in movement. Mana and Health will both refill automatically to a speed rate based on the Vitality and Intelligence/Spirit stats, but are generally restored with food (fruit or roast quail, for instance), drink (water, beer or whey) and potions.
- Take on hordes of monsters like Torvas in the dark dungeon depths.
The in-game HUD is very well-designed and easy to use, keeping a familiar and understandable interface that’s balanced and has everything you need. You don’t have to navigate complicated menus to find how to equip items, or map out your own keys to open up the skill trees. Everything is where it should be and logically placed, making for easy and quick access–which can be the difference between life and death in certain situations.
Along with character customization, Din’s Curse also offers World Customization, which is something that most games of the genre don’t possess. Normally players are limited to the world that the developers have created…but in Din’s Curse, you can alter your own world as you see fit. Players can change certain aspects such as the Low Stress mode that prevents monsters from invading the town (which can be very annoying, especially if you aren’t near a waygate), or upping the challenge with raising the monster levels.
The main bulk of the game is spent solving quests for the townspeople. These missions can range from simple collect and retrieve fetch quests to destroying monster-created devices and killing bosses. Every quest has a reward–usually EXP and/or currency–and builds up your reputation. Reputation is important in the game, as it directly impacts the overall quest of breaking the supernatural curse.
Currency in this game is much like World of Warcraft‘s conversion rates, wherein 100 pieces of copper (CP) equal one piece of silver (SP), and 100 pieces of silver equal one piece of gold (GP). Amassing currency is important as buying potions, repairing gear, and purchasing food and new items are all necessary parts of the game.
The strength of the monsters is progressive and they become more challenging the farther down the dungeons you go. They also level up when you, growing in fortitude along with your character. The bestiary is quite expansive and ranges from demons to venomous nagas to nightmarish creatures, many of which can be small peons…but Champions and Bosses can prove to be worthy adversaries. It’s always best to kite whenever possible to avoid the risk of being surrounded as this can kill even the strongest of dungeon delving heroes.
There are a wide assortment of items and gear in Din’s Curse that have different bonuses and helpful buffs. Items come in many different sizes and grades, and players and equip the standard raiment of armor and switch between two different weapon sets. The varying degrees of items include Set, Common, Rare/Elite, Artifact and Normal, each of which are randomized and have their own distinct stats. Certain items also have Ego bonuses which add powerful enchantments that are unlocked when requirements are met–usually in the form of a level or attribute requirement.
Loot is randomly generated and spawns with no set pattern, but Bosses and Champions have a higher chance to drop better gear than other monsters. Everything from two-handed axes, shields, bows and armor can be found pretty much anywhere, but the best pieces seem to drop in deeper parts of the dungeons.
The Inventory system is a nice original touch to the game as players can attain bags, pouches, and backpacks to enlarge their carrying capacity. There is a single set inventory along with four slots that can be equipped with up to four containers to add more space. Along with the potential expansive inventory there is also a huge Player Stash and a Shared Stash that can hold an array of bags, allowing players to store and transfer items amongst characters.
The most unique feature in Din’s Curse is that the game is constantly changing: world updates are added frequently to the in-game interface, many of which contain important news like starving townsfolk that need help, or devious new monster uprisings within the dungeons.
The town can also be attacked and raided by enemies, so its always a good idea to pay attention to the updates in case the townspeople are threatened. This adds a whole new mechanic to the game, putting emphasis on awareness and reactivity as players progress through the game. You definitely don’t want your Armorsmiths and Weaponsmiths to get killed–without them, you won’t be able to buy or repair your weaponry!
Towns can also be fortified with traps, devices, and machines that defend against marauding demons. These are extremely helpful against the hordes that sometimes arise out of nowhere and start attacking everyone, especially if you’re deep in a dungeon and aren’t near a waypoint.
Another unique feature is the inclusion of waygates rather than town portal spells or scrolls. Waygates that can be activated for each level of the dungeon that teleport players back to town. Players are also given a Town Portal Stone that can only be used once, so its best to use it in extreme emergencies such as when the town is being attacked.
In Din’s Curse, NPC’s aren’t just faceless entities: they are people who live, worry, struggle, and can die. Many times the denizens of each town will have disputes and actually start fighting, some of which can result in the death of a vendor. This can be frustrating, but a new prospective vendor is always identified so it’s always possible to replace them. Each NPC has their own personality and dialogue, giving a true sense to the realism of the fantasy-infused world.
Players can also play alone or with a party via the internet, but it can be a bit hard to find people so its best to use the forums on Soldak Entertainment’s website to find other players.
Din’s Curse is a formidable release in the expanding marketplace of dungeon crawlers, one that provides near limitless playtime with high replay value while staying true to the genre’s classic feel. Soldak has created a winner in Din’s Curse and its DLC Demon War, creating an impressive fantasy world full of evil demons and endless dungeons that adequately define the genre. With a multitude of character possibilities, a huge expansive collection of loot, randomized dungeons, and a quirky and different style, Din’s Curse has proven itself a worthy addition to any RPG fan’s library.
This is honestly one of my favorite PC games available on the Steam marketplace simply because it captures the essence of fantasy RPG’s while injecting its own distinct elements. I personally have had a blast with the game, and I adore the graphics as well as the overall visual style. It truly reminds me of old-school dungeon delving games on PC and adds that extra bit of nostalgia to the gameplay.
+ Huge replay value
+ Expansive character customization
+ Mix of dungeon crawler & action RPG
+ Unique story and plot
+ Graphics, visuals, and musical score
+ Constantly changing interactive world
+ Impressive array of loot and items
– Defending the town against attacks
– Getting overwhelmed by groups of monsters
– One-use town portal stone
For more information on Din’s Curse and the Indie Dev team that created it, Soldak Entertainment, please visit the official website.