Selling Your Soul to Dark Deity!

28 Jun

DarkDeity_Deluxe_Hero_01 (1)By Shawn Trommeshauser
(Dreaming in Digital)

Disclaimer: Review copy was supplied
Available on Steam for PC
See me play this game on Twitch (archived).

In the Kingdom of Delian, King Varic is waging a reckless war to avenge the death of his father. However, things are not going well for the demanding ruler. To bolster his forces, he forcibly conscripts every student in his military academy directly into the army. This is where Irving and his companions come into the story. These trainees are pulled into a war they aren’t fully prepared for, and along the way are drawn into an even greater conflict that could upend their entire world.

This is the setup for Dark Deity, a new Strategy Role Playing game developed by Sword & Axe LLC and published by Freedom Games. It’s now available after a successful campaign on Kickstarter in the Summer of 2020.

Gameplay is a series of top-down battles where you and your opponents take turns moving your units around a grid like chess pieces. Each character has a job that gives them specific abilities in the field that range from up-close melee fighter, long range archer, or healing and support. You have to take advantage of this variety of skills to achieve the goals the story sets for you.

combat

When your units engage in combat, the game goes into a closeup of the characters attacking and retaliating. The sprite work is well animated, and shows off the attacks and the characters who visually change as they advance into new classes.

There doesn’t appear to be perma-death as any character(s) I lost in battle came right back after the battle ended. However, when a party member falls, they may receive a severe wound resulting in a minor but permanent stat reduction. I feel this is a balanced trade off as you can choose to continue with the disadvantage or restart the current battle. I appreciate this mechanic. When I first played a game from the Fire Emblem series, I permanently lost a brand new party member very early in the game and that really put me off on continuing.

deed

Between battles, you’re treated to story-driven cut scenes. While the story is familiar with predictable character motivations, the dialogue and banter is quite amusing. There’s even a sly sense of humour woven into the item and character class descriptions which had me laughing out loud occasionally.

You’re also given the opportunity to buy supplies and upgrade your party members’ weaponry. Despite each character having four weapons or attacks that can be upgraded, the points that are used to perform these upgrades have been very scarce in my time with the game. This left me feeling like most of the weapons were useless. It also forced me to leave most of my party underdeveloped as I only had enough upgrade points to upgrade the attacks of two of the many characters in my unit.

One area where Dark Deity stumbles is in the user interface and presentation. There are many minor issues and I hope the developers are able to smooth some of them out out in future patches. Unfortunately, there are also some major problems that fixing would require a substantial overhaul of some aspects of the game. The controls could be refined and simplified. There’s a lack of consistency in selecting and cancelling within the menus and while commanding your units. Sometimes you are forced to use the keyboard for simple actions instead of a mouse–which is the primary way you interact with the game.

topdown

Issuing instructions to your units could be simplified to having your mouse buttons consistently act as select and cancel. As it stands, the slightest mis-click will reset everything you were just doing instead of simply playing a sound to indicate that the player clicked in the wrong spot. I found this came up a lot when issuing several repetitive commands quickly.

I found nearly every piece of music to be incredibly bland and uninspiring. The fact that it constantly stops and starts does not help it at all as the song changes every single time the game goes into an attack animation. After the first few battles, I ended up muting the music and putting on the soundtrack to Final Fantasy Tactics in the background as I played.

The presentation of the combat is very weak in a few key areas. There is no effort given to showing you what is happening during the enemy turns, meaning that attacks pop up without you seeing who has moved or where the attacks are happening. This left me confused when a healer I thought was safe was being attacked. It turned out that the attackers were archers who were targeting my units through solid walls.

The enemy AI is very simple. Unless you get in range, enemy units won’t activate at all, letting you fight a few enemies while a dozen more just stand around and let it happen. This could be a deliberate choice for the sake of game balance, but I found it was easy to manipulate; enemy units would never take advantage of their surroundings and would always fall for the bait if I lured them into specific spots. I felt this all made the battles a lot easier to manage.

While this review does come across as fairly negative, I enjoyed the time I spent playing Dark Deity and I see a lot of potential in this game. It has a solid foundation and it’s clear that with a little more polish, this game can truly shine.

If you’re a fan of Strategy RPGs, I’d recommend giving this one a chance. 

3 Stars out of 5

Pros

  • Good character banter
  • Smooth combat animations
  • A sense of humour that made me laugh several times
  • A solid foundation for an SRPG

Cons

  • The music is awful
  • Controls are inconsistent and frustrating at times
  • Antagonists feel a little generic
  • Hard to follow combat with strange quirks.

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