Diablo, taste the word. Taste it! Dungeon Hunter does not claim to be a clone of Diablo but most of the game community has viewed it as such. So how does it fare when compared to the granddaddy of action RPG:s? Not too well actually. Dungeon Hunter falls short on its own merits, and it is sadly not only the game title that is uninspired and dull.
To me an action RPG should incorporate an epic story of good versus evil. This Dungeon Hunter manages to convey in the opening movie. I felt really pumped to get into the action, and kill that dark presence once and for all. So I choose a warrior to enter into Gothicus.(the most predictable name for a land in a fantasy game ever?) I got to choose zilch, nada, nothing for my hero. No stats to allocate, no powers, and no gear. I got this generic looking warrior to enter into the fray.
I started out killing some bugs and spiders like in most action RPG:s you get some calm before the storm. I upgraded my warrior in strength as it is really the only attribute he needs out of the four available. The rogue needs dexterity, and the mage needs wisdom for magic. The forth is endurance that I guess relates to how much you can carry, and thus you can skip that as you can sell (transmutate) gear when your hero can’t carry any more. Ok so you only have one attribute to allocate your points on, there goes the RPG element flying out the window. There are also skills you can choose from. You get one skill point for each level you reach. Each skill climbs one equal amount for each point you increase it with. For example regeneration increases with 10 hp for each point. This also limits the RPG idea as you can just make a master regenerater once you reach level ten. Most RPG:s demand more skill points for higher level skills.
Ok so here I go hacking away with my warrior, and I find some new gear. What can I do to make him the deadliest weapon in the land of Gothicus? Well there is an Autoequip button that does it all for you. If you want to have your own configuration that is ok too but as you find about 20-50 items/weapons/armour pieces every level you traverse there is not much point in wasting time doing it yourself. I have not had the same weapon for more than at most a level. Once you visit a town you can buy new items, and sell your massive surplus. You won’t need to buy stuff though as you will find better weapons once you enter the next level. There is no merging or forging done in Dungeon Hunter. Something I really enjoyed in both Diablo and Baldur’s Gate.
Ok so now I talk to some people, and proceed in the different quests I get. I complete them all without much telling which are side quests and which related to the main quest. I travel along a set path through Gothicus with little reason to go back. The great introduction to the story shown in the movie when my warrior entered the land feels lost. The story gets more and more predictable, and watered down. Once I completed the game there was not even a movie showing, just the credits. Feels like the team behind the game got just as tired with the game as the story got.
One thing I like in Dungeon Hunter is the inclusion of fairies. They have their own personality based on the elements. Depending on which you choose you get an attack button for the fairy attack. The strength of the attack depends on the element of the enemy. If you get the correct fairy for the task you will have an even easier time killing the opposition.
Dungeon Hunter is not an action RPG in my opinion, but rather a simple straightforward hack ‘n’ slash with loose controls. It feels really uninspired, and I would rather have had a straight up Diablo clone. It has really good production values that pulls the rating up, but I am finding it hard to recommend it at the asked price of $6.99. I completed it within five hours, and find no reason to play it again. It is another Kroll or Hero of Sparta that looks good but lacks any lasting power.
Presentation and graphics
Dungeon Hunter looks great with quality on par with Baldur’s Gate found on the original Xbox. The visual presentation is stunning, and the opening movie telling the background story is among the best seen on the device.
I think there is a great lack of variety and inspiration when it comes to the monsters and enemies you meet. Most dungeon crawlers come with a wide array of inspired things to slay but Dungeon Hunter feels a bit stale. Spiders, soldiers and skeletons are ok even though they show zero imagination. The most common enemy though is the slime, and you get green, red and blue slime to fight. Come on Gameloft, seriously is slime the best your creative teams can come up with.
I have to mention the immense loading times as well; I thought it was slow when I started the game on my 3GS. I can accept a loading screen at the start of the game like when playing Gangstar but here you get them whenever you travel to a new location. And even if you regret going to the world map you get a loading screen for the level you were already on.
The music is suitable orchestral arrangements creating a good fantasy vibe. Sound effects are ok with some nice weapon hitting the target sounds. Still it feels like it has been done before with much better incorporation of voice talent. I would have liked the occasional one liner or at least a war cry from time to time.
You can play your own playlists from within the game, but this cancels all sound effects.
Neither of the control schemes feel really good. The virtual stick feels strangely unresponsive, and often I found myself running up instead of up and right. Touching the screen to move is the control method I have used the most, but sadly that is even more flawed. Often your avatar skips going where you point, or just stand around when you want to open a nearby chest. Even worse is the situation when you have a group of enemies, and even though I am sure I tap the closest my hero stands still as he can’t reach the enemy behind the other in the group. This is actually the only reason I have died in Dungeon Hunter. The touch controls are also seriously flawed due to all other action buttons found on the screen. I don’t know how many times I have changed tracks in my playlist instead of going up right.
When you attack something you don’t even have to hack and slash by button mashing. Once the target is chosen your hero will slash away until the foe is vanquished or you are dead. Of course you can interrupt by using magic or a fairy but most of the time that only makes the battles longer.
The challenge in Dungeon Hunter is really low, as you tend to be just on the same level as the opposition at all times. If you encounter more than three you might be in danger but by using a health potion you will most likely make it without too much hassle. There is no need to grind to get your hero’s stats up in Dungeon Hunter. That is a good thing in some regards but I would like to be challenged in a game.
In Diablo and Baldur’s Gate a lot of the dungeon crawling is done just to get better weapons. To find items to combine into fierce weapons and armour. In Dungeon Hunter you get a lot of stuff from fallen enemies and treasure chests. Still most weapons are either stuff that you have already got, or items usable later when on a higher level. I have never had to buy any new equipment in the game as you find almost everything, and often you can’t buy anything better than you have already got. There is no way to combine or forge your own items and weapons. The only thing you need to do to keep yourself fit for fight is to press the Autoequip button in the inventory. The game then selects the best armour, weapons and items for you out of your inventory.
The game is also totally linear. There are sidequests as well, and without knowing I completed all of them on my first play through. How? Well all of them are on the way of the main quest anyway so you can’t really tell them apart. And the main quest is a linear route from start to finish.
Still I had some fun playing Dungeon Hunter once I stopped seeing this as a Diablo clone with depth and character development, and viewed it as a game like Hero of Sparta and Kroll. Just hack your way from point a to point b.
Dungeon Hunter is an easy game to complete within five hours, and once you do there is not much more to do with it. You can complete it with the three different classes, and choose to upgrade other skills. Still it is the same linear story, and the total lack of challenge. If this game had at least given you a reason to play again with randomised dungeons or something. You get achievements from time to time but those really don’t add anything as you will get most of them without any extra effort.
Dungeon Hunter looks good and sounds good but at heart it is a shallow and uninspired game with a serious lack of game life. If you are looking for a good dungeon crawler try Rogue Touch, and choose Zenonia for your RPG needs. If on the other hand you are looking for a hack ‘n’ slash in the vein of Hero of Sparta or Kroll this might suit you fine. Beware though that you won’t be challenged, and that it won’t last for more than a couple of hours.