Game play - 8
Presentation - 6
Story / Creativity - 5
Lifespan - 8
I'll be the first to admit that Din's Curse is not a great game. It isn't going to attract a lot of gamers due to its graphics. Plus the story is not going to draw you in like other RPGs claim to do. What you will get is a game that promises random dungeons, loot, and monsters to kill. However it also raises the stake by making the villagers more necessary in keeping alive, along with being aware of any spies hiding in the village. The free demo on Soldak Entertainment's Web site is highly recommended from me. Plus with the now $10 USD price tag, it is a nice alternative to keep you satisfied if you can't afford Torchlight II or Diablo III.
Most people think of Diablo when they remember what is the best point and click action RPG on the PC, and the launch of Diablo III would remind people of this. However there are some other good point and click action RPGs worth looking into, especially for a gamer on a budget. Torchlight is a great example of how it could be nailed right at a reasonable price, and I’ll argue to my grave that Darkstone did it right as well. Soldak Entertainment’s Din’s Curse game is not their first installment to the point and click action RPG genre, since their first game Depths of Peril held similar traits. Din’s Curse is not a sequel to Depths of Peril, but another direction for the genre that focuses on your relationship with the village. Din’s Curse might not be the most fancy of the point and click action RPGs, but it definitely has great core mechanics to the genre.
The story for Din’s curse is your character was awful in their previous life. Din, being a god that is not so happy with your character’s previous life and knowing that his people suffer, curses you to be his champion. Your character is brought back to life and can’t be permanently slain by mortal means for long (you just suffer an XP penalty like other action RPGs). However you are bound to a randomly generated town with random villagers and dungeon until the area is designated “safe.” This usually means that all the important quests to keep the town safe are completed and elite monsters are slain.
The story of is one of the weakest points in Din’s Curse. There isn’t any story character development where your character redeems himself, and there isn’t any memorable characters in the area other than Din. Your character does raise in ranks from the displeasure of Din to being his champion as you save towns, but this is all told to you by Din and never changes how your character acts. The story serves more as a reason why you need to visit multiple towns, slay monsters, and gather loot.
The story for Din’s curse is pretty weak, but the presentation is another stumbling block for the game. It isn’t a bad looking game, but for 3D games it is a bit bland. My biggest complaint would have to be the human models for your character and villagers. There is some distinction separating them (like armor), but overall they look the same. Actually there isn’t a way to tell a difference from male and female models, even though there is the option for this in the character creation process.
Sound effects and music would be another bland part of Din’s Curse – again, not bad, but bland. You got the sound of metal swords colliding with shields and metal armor; the growls of underground monsters; and the whooshing sound of a spell flying through the air. Music is a mixture between “intense” or “somber” atmosphere music. I say these in quotation marks as the time when they come up is randomly generated in the game, especially the intense ones in the mines. I usually just play the game with the music off as there isn’t anything memorable about them.
But the models for monsters is nice an varied for Din’s Curse. Orcs, Dark elves and other humanoid creatures look a bit better than the human models. However when you encounter the invisible, creepy forms of banshees or the skeletal form of a lich you can tell that these are a serious threat. Other monsters like the “Scavenger” could grow more tendrils as it gets bigger. The animations on these monsters (and human models) are very smooth and unique to each one.
It’s unfortunate that Din’s Curse might not be as pretty as other point and click action RPGs like Diablo III or Torchlight, but it makes up for it with its depth in game play. You gather loot by going into the dungeon, upgrade your character through time by gathering experience, and fight various monsters in different states (like purple elite monsters or green champions). However this game ups the ante on random generation with events and villager behavior.
The villagers in each town are capable of dying along with providing valuable services to your character. The townsfolk are in need of a hero to protect them from the monsters below, as they could die from their hands. The town might get raided by monsters stealing food, assassinating key figures, or might fight an all out war from below. If you spend too much time down in the dungeon, the town could be wiped out and you would lose the game.
Another problem with the town is the villagers themselves. Villagers might be coaxed by the evil in the dungeon to turn on their human comrades to build short-cuts for invading monster forces. They could even run away from the village and become a champion of the evil below, where they plant an ambush on your character!
Din’s curse comes with a plethora of options for your character. You could pick from pre-made characters from both genders to play as in the game, like the standard warrior or the wizard. However the real fun of the game comes from the “hybrid” class. The default classes all have three skill trees you could browse through, yet hybrids can only have two skill trees. The skill trees of a hybrid class can come from any of the pre-defined classes. So you could have the berserker skill tree from the warrior class combined with the healer skill tree from the cleric.
Regardless of whether your character is a standard class or a hybrid, the skill trees offer a variety of builds for any munchkin-lover. Each node (an action or passive bonus) costs skill points to unlock, and more to reach a higher level. But these points may not be permanent as you can remove points at the cost of gold to spend them somewhere else. Maybe that new piercing arrow move is no longer useful to your 30th level archer? Just remove its points and put it into a more useful passive bonus.
The dungeons in Din’s Curse are randomly generated, but there are also random events associated with it. The monsters roam about and could even get into fights with each other. Undead creatures like skeletons and zombies will kill orcs and torvas, making them rise later as new allies to the undead. Hidden passage ways with great treasure could be found (assuming you could open locked doors). There can also be cave ins that could block off passage ways, or deliver great damage to your character if you are unfortunately underneath it.
Din’s Curse will provide plenty of (albeit repetitive) quests for you to solve. They are your standard “go here and kill this” or “I want X of Y item” quests from numerous MMORPGs. However some quests might fail or escalate to an even worse condition. If you don’t kill an elite monster in time, it could form an alliance with other elite monsters to build a greater army against the village. Or maybe you can stumble across plans the forces below had scheming, and you have to race through the dungeon to stop it from happening.
Another feature about Din’s Curse which deserves pointing out – but unfortunately I never got to test – would be the multi-player. A quick look through the menu shows that you can play this game over a Local Network (for LAN parties) or online with a friend from another time zone. However, I think the obscurity of this game hinders the multi-player as I can never find a server online. The pinging process might be weak as well as I believe the game crashed on me once when I tried connecting to the server. I recognize that multi-player is usually a requirement for point and click action RPGs like Din’s Curse, though I think it gives enough to make it a great single-player game. However, if you are looking for a thriving community to play with or can’t find a buddy to play this game in, you might want to look elsewhere.
How long Din’s Curse last you depends on how invested you are in your character. The game never stops in giving you new items like any other loot-infested action RPG of this genre. And the game provides a great deal of depth on your character can be customized beyond the character creation window.
Some builds might tip the balance of the game. For example, I got a hybrid Ice Mage/Healer over level 20 that was fine with most monsters. Except for dark elf wizards, who could drain his mana pool with every hit. And those jerks come in swarms in the randomly generated dungeons. But when I started an Archer/Trickster hybrid build I’m able to snipe at enemies in the shadows while laying down nasty ice traps.
Din’s Curse hosts a randomly generated dungeon and item system from other action RPGs, but what really sets it apart is the options. Before any campaign starts in the game you can set what level it is along with special world modifiers. Maybe you want the game to move at a slower pace but at a higher level. This means you could be dealing with monsters five levels higher than your character, but there are less chances of raids on the village. You can even create a campaign where you have to fight off a hundred waves of monsters attacking the village.
However, what could really ruin the lifespan for Din’s curse would be the repetitive nature. The game does its best in offering a variety of things to do in the game for your character and items to find. But it does have repetitive quests and there is little that differentiates one town from another aside from a few numbers. I’ll admit that I grew tired of the game due to its repetition, but the amount of depth does bring me back in when I want to gather some loot.