Dark Delve Review


Dark Delve

Dark Delve
RPG
1 player
Creator: CheckMark Games
$1 (80 msp)
Rating: 8.5/10

Honestly I am not sure if I can call this a review. I have not completed the game because I played 4 hours, and then made the decision to start over my file. Plus this is really just an explanation of the game’s balance. I have loved every moment of Dark Delve because of its balance. From skill points to chains and weapons to armor everything feels balanced. Maybe the only thing that is not balanced is the price of weapons. For example one weapon might cost you 45 gold and do 30 damage. The next weapon up on the weapon food chain might cost you 60 gold, but only does 25 damage. This does not happen often, but it made me scratch my head. Heck, why am I complaining? Cheaper, more powerful weapons? Yes please.

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Character skill screen

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The single player view of the game is very cool and makes the world feel more lifelike than if it was a top down view. While dungeon diving you have to balance the endurance of your party, and the health and mana of each character. If your endurance runs out you will no longer gain health and mana after each battle. Your endurance can be recovered by consuming certain items or going back to town to rest in the town inn. This makes endurance crucial to keep track of. Battles usually leave your characters at least a little hurt and a little of their mana gone. Depending on your effectiveness in battle you will get a grade from D to S. The more effective you are, the more health and mana you will recover after a battle. Talk about incentive to be involved at every point in the battle. I truly believe that this addition makes battle a whole lot better.

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The first person view is pretty cool

 

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You can have a party of up to 4 people with any mixture of three classes you want. Is it your inclination to have three mages and a rouge? Have at it, it is your funeral. The classes themselves all have three skill trees you can put points into. Through this you will teach your character new skills or add on new abilities that compliment your skills. There is a nice balance here that I really appreciate. You have to not only take into account the effects the skills you pick will have on the character they are for, but how that skill will affect the party as a whole. It truly feels like a party based game. Also who says you need a party of 4? You can go into the game with 1, 2, 3, or 4 characters. The less characters you have, the more experience you get per battle. Since there is an awardment for beating the game with 2 characters, I assume it is possible.

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The combat screen is clear and serves its purpose

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Ah awardments, Indie Games attempt to pull in the achievement addicted customers. The awardments in Dark Delve are varied and entice you to make multiple playthroughs or play challenge levels in ways you never thought of. Speaking of challenges, they are pretty cool. Imagine you are tired, but you really want to play some Dark Delve. You do not want to think about everything that is involved in the single player experience like distributing skill points or buying weapons. Go into the challenge mode to find pre-made characters with a goal for you to accomplish. These are built to be finished in one sitting and are very cool. I believe the developer has promised more through free updates as well. Challenges really show all of the best attributes of Dark Delve.

The battle system is something I have saved for last because it is so good. The battle system is my favorite part of the whole game. Yes there are a lot of misses when you try to attack, but it does not affect the gameplay that much. While deciding who to attack you can hit Y and see the description of the enemy. Resistant to magic? Resistant to physical attacks? Special Abilities? All listed. This is extremely useful for planning your whole attack. You also get a point added to your chain for every hit you get on the enemy. At any point when a character has a chain, you can use a Break ability. This breaks your chain and lets you use a useful, 0 mana attack. For my mage the one I used was his healing power and for my warrior I used a super attack that was usually a one hit kill late in the chain. The battle system is a cool, modified take on the RPG battle system of old, and it is a great addition to the game.

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Overall Dark Delve is a great RPG and deserves your time and 80 msp. It is a fresh RPG experience with all the feel of the RPGs of old. This game does a lot of things very well, and only a few things poorly. With new challenges coming in the form of updates, any RPG fan will love this game. If you do not like RPGs, this really will not make you have a sudden realization that you love RPGs.

Stuffs you should play


Yeah I don’t post much, but here are some games that I believe you should play, because they are awesome.

Dark Delve (80 msp) — Old-School Time!!! seriously this game’s concept is older than me, but is very well done. You make a party of up to 4 characters from 3 separate classes. Those classes have 3 separate skill trees. In essence there is plenty of character customization. You go and explore local ruins for clues to continue your quest… and that is as far as I got. Being the efficiencyist that I am, I decided my character load out was sub par, so I started over. Crisp graphics, nice ambiance, and readable text. Readable text is a rarity on XBLIG. I have easily put 4 hours in so far, and the game totes a 7 hour story, but I have heard that is a gross under estimate if you explore and take you time.

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Wizorb (240 msp) — Nice Arkanoid clone with some mild RPG elements. By mild I mean largely unnoticed, but highly useful to curb your frustration.

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Dead Pixels (80 msp) — If you haven’t played this yet, what is wrong with you!! Go play it now. It is a brilliant mix of Side Scrolling Action and RPG elements. With Zombies.

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9-25 Update –The Value of the Dollar in Video Games


I know I do not post much, but I will try to make this one worth your while. This week I have really been pondering the worth of the dollar in video games now. I can go to the store and pick up Fallout: New Vegas for 20 bucks. I have already put about 55 hours into and have just started my second playthrough. This game is amazing and so far, and with an original price of 40 bucks when I got it that averages out to a little less than a dollar per hour of play. On the other hand I can go to the indie game marketplace and download games like Blocks That Matter (14 hours — 3 dollars),  Avatar Golf (19 hours — 5 dollars), and BloodyCheckers (60 hours — 1 dollar). These might be extreme examples, but it has got me thinking about what I really pay for with AAA titles.

This is not to bash AAA titles, because there are plenty of worthwhile $60 games out there. My only point is when comparing money to amount of enjoyable gameplay indie games seem to have the upper hand. Most one dollar indie games will kill at least an hour while only a handful of $60 games will break 60 hours. I also understand that AAA titles have amazing graphics, storylines, and create more lifelike experiences. Does this mean that an hour playing a AAA title is worth more than playing an Indie Game ? Maybe, it is up to personal preference and really depends on the game.

In the end it all comes down to the game. I have had the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim paid off for almost a year now, and I have no doubt it will be worth the $60 admission for me. Others might want to invest their money in Modern Warfare 3 or Batman: Arkham City. I have no doubt those will be good games for their targeted demographics.

The whole point of me writing this is not to tell people to buy indie games instead of the next AAA title, but if you are like me and have 20 dollars to burn at a game store like I do, maybe consider picking up some Microsoft points instead of a $20 game that you might play for 5-10 hours max.

What I am playing:

Retail:

— Fallout: New Vegas

Indie:

Blocks That Matter
— Apex
— Dead Pixels
— OSR: Unhinged
— Doom and Destiny

What I am looking forward to:

— The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (11/11/11)
— Wizorb (9/29/11)
— Portal 2 DLC (unknown)

Total Miner: The Forge First Impressions


Total Miner: Forge

Game: Total Miner: The Forge
Genre: Block Building
1-4 player local
creators: Greenstone Games
240 msp

NOTE: This is based off of 3 hours with the game, let me know if things I wish they would add are added later in the game

I finally got around to playing Total Miner last night. First of all, I do not care that this game takes things from other games and melts them together to make their own game. My review is based on the amount of fun I had, not “OMGZ tHis is just like MinEcraft so it Suxsss”. It is a bit of a mixed impression. Read on!

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Image from Total Miner: Forge

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Pros:

— Cool concept of story mode (digging as deep as possible, looking for blueprints, etc.)
— Nice old-style graphics
— Feeling of progression in Dig Deep mode
— The store blocks are kinda cool

Cons:

— Text is near impossible to read (names of blocks, numbers of blocks, etc.)
— No online play

Suggestions:

— Make text readable
— Add online
— Crafting mode like FortressCraft

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Image from Total Miner: Forge

It is way harder to read the number next to the boxes on an actual TV

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One thing that really bugs me is graphics. Why build a game that requires you to have a great T.V. in order to see all of the important text? My T.V. might not be the greatest T.V. ever, but every game should have readable text from 5-6 feet away on a 26 inch television. This might seem like a petty complaint, but it is a huge deal when playing. On numerous occasions I have run out of blocks well before I thought I would because I could not see the amount of blocks I had. I also could never tell how much money I had, which rendered planning while buying stuff useless. The names of the blocks are also fuzzy, but I will chalk that up to a poor font choice over anything else. I have no problem with simple graphics as long as I can understand what is going on all the time. This really could be fixed by something as simple as adding an option for a normal text font.

Ok now that my graphics rant is over lets get to the meat of the gameplay.

Total Miner just feels like it is lacking something. Have you ever played a game and knew it was supposed to be more fun than it felt like? That is how I feel when I play Total Miner. I know that this game should be super fun, but it is not. Building is fun, but not as fun as it could be. I guess I am spoiled by the crafting in FortressCraft, but I tire of the blocks that are included in Total Miner. The stuff you can build that looks cool in the style of graphics given to you is very limited. Sure you can build cool castle looking things and other stone buildings, but the game would benefit from more variety in the blocks given to you. Look at the inventory in the picture above and you will see a lot of gray. This is just my personal opinion, but those style graphics with a lot of gray is not so awesome.

There are a lot of cool minor features in the game I figured I should mention. Grass automatically grows on dirt you dig up, which is really helpful when trying to build cool things involving grass.

Everyone is so hung up on Total Miner’s Dig Deep Mode and how awesome it is. I cannot really grade it right now because I would just go randomly run off and build an whatever I wanted. I did experiment with the crafting system and thought it was pretty cool. The idea of Dig Deep is pretty cool, but without the ability to read anything….

Creative Mode is really not all that interesting because of my earlier complaints regarding graphics and a lot of gray blocks. Here is where I would prefer a better inventory system and block selecting system than Total Miner’s inventory system.

Overall Total Miner is interesting and somewhat fun. So far I have not had a moment where I was like “WOW! that is cool!”. Most of my moments are spent squinting at the text and trying to find interesting blocks to match the ones I already have. The game is not bad, but I have more complaints for this game than I anticipated.

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FortressCraft First Impressions


FortressCraft Chapter 1

Game: FortressCraft Chapter 1: Creation
Genre: Block Building
1-8 player online
Creators: ProjectorGames
240 msp

Ok I really only got around to playing FortressCraft yesterday, and it was pretty fun. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

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Image from FortressCraft Chapter 1

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Pros:

— Easy to use interface
— Readable text (always a plus, it shocks me how many games have text I cannot read)
— A lot of different blocks to use
— Block Crafting
— 8 Player Online multiplayer
— Boot function in said online multiplayer (hint, hit RB twice then freeze and boot)
— Good graphics
— Great light affects

Cons:

— Water Physics are crappy (very, very crappy)
— The fact that you have to find relics (things that let you fly, jump higher, run faster, etc.)

Suggestions:

— A way to paint a rectangle shaped area (with markers of some kind) and fill it in with a type of block
— Better Water Physics (I want to make waterfalls!)

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Image from FortressCraft Chapter 1

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Basically I am having a great time with FortressCraft. The whole point is just to build whatever the heck you want. That is the whole game. You do have to find relics in order to gain special powers, but that really feels like more of a chore than something fun. Once you get the hang of building things, you will be having a blast though. I spent an hour yesterday making a volcano style eruption. Without fluid physics this makes my volcano look more blockish, but it is still cool. During this experiment I got a good hang of the controls. The right stick’s use is very… useful. If you press the right stick in, you will automatically have the block you have hi-lighted in your hand. This is very useful for quickly switching between 3 or 4 types of blocks while building. While I might not have the ability to fly yet, I did find trampolines super useful. In a super unrealistic way, trampolines propel you upward more and more each jump. This is very useful for getting up to high places when you do not have the relics.

My favorite addition to the game so far is the workshop. Your workshop is below your spawn, waiting for you to do some crafting. Inside the workshop you can build any 8×8 shape you want. Then you can use that shape as a custom block. This is really cool because you can make things like chairs, tables, parts of signs, etc. Also the blocks that make up the workshop cannot be deleted, so you do not have to worry about accidental deletions. I have seen some really cool things people have come up with, and I look forward to making my own stuff.

Now about water physics. If the water physics in this game worked even a small bit better than they do, water would be useful for more than flat surfaces. Basically if you place a water block down wrong, you will flood your creations. This has no affect other than visual, but it is still a nuisance. To get your world back to normal, delete the water block you spawned, back out of your game, and reload it. This should fix all of your water problems. Apparently the next update will help with water physics and make water usable for things like waterfalls, which will be awesome.

All in all so far I love FortressCraft because it brings out my creativity. While writing this I have come up with 4-5 ideas for things I need to make when I get home. I would highly suggest trying this game if you have not already. The online multiplayer is great and makes it a lot more fun.

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This is an intruiging video showing all the blocks types in FortressCraft.

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FortressCraft vs. Total Miner: The Forge


FortressCraft Chapter 1    vs.   Total Miner: Forge

Well recently I have tried both FortressCraft and Total Miner: The Forge. I kinda liked both of them, but they are both different, so I have decided to have a contest. Basically in the next week or so I will post my “First Impressions” and “Final Verdict”. This is just me comparing them for fun and is by no means the definitive comparison of the games. No I will not wait until the next Total Miner Update because I don’t have the time to wait. Maybe when the update comes out I will re-compare the games a little bit (if need be). It should be fun because I generally like building things. So far I like FortressCraft a little better because I can actually read the text on the menu for the boxes I choose, but I have only player a little while of each.  Will update  later this week.

Check out my side Blog


hey this site I have going now is great, but I am not sure how much longer I can support it all the time. The Summer Uprising was great, but now I want to focus on my own game development. For that I have created a new blog:

http://newdeveloperblog.wordpress.com/

This is where I will document my progress through the beast that is XNA. Being a student as well that is probably all I will have time for, so this site will hopefully still be tended to, but I cannot guarantee it.

Thanks for the 1,500 hits so far, hopefully I will be able to put up a review every now and then