We’d wager there isn’t a single human being alive that genuinely loves the bog-standard, turn-based battle template. We accept it as a means to an end, a quirk of traditional RPGing that we’ve just grown to accept. Like a cold sore. Now imagine a game that consists of 80-plus hours of unrelenting turn-based brown, in monster-infested dungeons that are entirely your own creation. It’s a concept that – wait a minute – is oddly appealing. For the first few hours, it even threatens to be fun.
The basic premise is simple enough. In order to contain a recent monster epidemic, you’re tasked with digging out a local cave to turn it into a massive dungeon. This dungeon, it’s said, will attract monsters, whereupon you can just pop in every morning and clear them out. Naturally, it’s not as simple corralling them into a corner with a heavy axe – different monster types like their cave laid out just so. Some don’t like to live too near the cave entrance, for example, while others will only live in certain types of dingy accommodation.
Initially, there’s some satisfaction to be had planning your monster trap – sorry, dungeon. Organising rooms so you can maximise your encounters and returning morning after morning to slowly expand your cave is pretty compelling stuff. However, after you’ve trudged through a couple of floors’ worth of dungeon, things soon begin to grate. It dawns on you that as you add more rooms, all you’re doing is creating more turn-based battles for you to wade through – just so you can pick up items to fulfill tedious quests or earn a few incremental stat boosts.
There’s no real strategy to the battles either, so there’s barely any reward for your shovel-based efforts. Even more importantly, there’s no engaging story or environmental variety to keep your nose from crinkling up in disgust. So, it may have an intriguing concept, but this game is still better off left in a cave.
Oct 31, 2008