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2012 In Review 014* - DUNGEONMEN 
 PostFri Sep 13, 2013 5:37 am
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Well done, gentlemen.
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That's good advice.
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It's *not* that kind of a game.
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Possibly the only RPG ever to include the Hatsuendan technique
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Shoulda used the ten foot pole...
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I met my end :(
This is a review of DUNGEONMEN: Men of Dungeons.

Pre-Thoughts:

This was a great game that came out last year. I'm also going to say, this is the first game on the list I can pre-emptively safely say I am not going to be beating. Full-sized RPG, nothing half-assed or corners cut about it. Harlock and Shiz are generally good like that. I remember the equipment system was a big turn off for some people. I feel kind of bad revieiwng it now, as the next OHR Update or game update is supposed to make that part way more intuitive. I also understand sharp difficulty curve was a sticking point to some. I could've used a little more handholding, personally. Hard to tell in these games if you're under-prepared or in the wrong area. Party customization was cool so I'm definitely looking forward to doing that part. Somehow, my brother beat this damn thing so kudos to him in advance. Taking some time to download, so I'll see if there's a shorter one while I wait.

Thoughts During:

Good music, great Company name and title screen thing. What the hell do you call those?

Character Select/Naming is pro as hell.

Oh yeah, he said the portraits were going to be done soon too. REALLY bad time to review this one.

Where this game has so much customization it makes perfect sense to buy your starting equipment and having to balance out between the party members is fun.

I love the variety of stuff in the shops, even if (In the current OHR) it's hard to tell what the hell the difference is between any of it.

Critical hit noise might be just a *bit* loud.

Bit of a grind! Graphic and sound design makes up for it quite a bit.

I appreciate how the special attacks do damage in addition to some kind of a buff. Plunder being a great example of an early game thing.

Torch/Ten Foot Pole, that kind of D&D stuff is fun but does get expensive. Having to plunder to pay for it.

Ughh.. trap took my party to one health but didn't mention that. Stepped on Acid and died Sad

Post-Thoughts:

There's a lot of stuff to digest here. The battles are pretty fair and don't take too long. I'm not always happy with the monetary payout, but that does make the Pirate's plunder ability, which hits the enemy and steals 200 GP more useful. I mentioned in a previous review that RPGs seem to be about preparation, and that's on double display in Dungeonmen. If you want to see in the dark you have to buy torches, you can get your equipment upgraded or enchanted if you trek back to town. Or maybe you don't trek back to town: Each character class has a unique ability: Some can disarm traps, some can burst through locked doors. Some allow you to save or heal anywhere in the dungeon, the pirate lets you send a bird back to town to buy any equipment you might direly need. You have to take a lot of things into consideration when you form your party, you have to take a lot of things into consideration when you buy equipment.

As near as I can tell, any character, regardless of class, can equip any combination of equipment. Naturally there's some downsides to this if you're a caster, but it's nice that you're allowed to try kooky shit. The downside is that there is a LOT of different kinds of equipment. Rather than having "Bronze-Silver-Gold-Iron-Steel" as the progression of swords, you have an INCREDIBLE variety of weapons and armor to choose from. Swords and pikes and estocs and tomahawks and daggers and staves. Claymores, rapiers, epees, just off the god damn chain. In the current version, it's impossible to tell what the difference is without asking an NPC or looking it up on a chart helpfully included with the game. Kind of a retro throwback but also kind of annoying. As I understand, work is already being done to allow the OHR to display these kinds of stat differences, possibly even available in the latest nightlies, which should make those differences easier to judge. Either way, you get ORE and INGOTS from enemies, and these allow you to upgrade your armor, while enchanting type stuff can be found to improve your weapons. That kind of customization is amazing, but the interface for it is a little bit clunky. Right now it's doubly clunky. I don't want to put a lot of time in it until it's as awesome as it's going to be because this seems like the kind of game I'd really like to take the time to play.

And you are going to have to take time to play it. There's (at least) 4 dungeons, each divided into different subsections, each of those with their own challenges and boss. Add to that trying to find the right equipment, trying to find the right heroes, learning what all your different techniques do... like I said, a lot to digest. There's no official order to the dungeons, it seems you can challenge them in order you see fit though I remember getting my ass kicked pretty bad trying anywhere other than the swamp at first.

I've got a million things I like and a million thing to complain about. Sometimes it's even the same thing. Every now and then, a chest is booby trapped. There's a wide variety of trap types, but if you have a ninja or a ten foot pole, you can try to disarm it. As I mentioned before, you need torches to see in dark areas. You can use a bedroll to sleep in the dungeon, but you run the risk of being attacked by monsters or contracting diseases. These are old school Dungeons and Dragons kind of things, and they're cool. But they also add a lot of complication and headaches of getting items identified, having diseases cured, reviving dead party members. Some of it you're used to if you played Spellshard, but a lot of it is new and it's all thrown at you at once. You have no idea what's coming and it can be a little overwhelming.

I mean hell, you choose your starting characters with only a few lines of description to let you know what they do. And it's a minor quibble, but I hate that there's no "Go back" button on those screens. Once you've named a character, that's it. There's no changing "Rod and Todd" to Tex and Mex at the last minute. You can't undo your selection of a wizard and take a pirate instead (at least not till you start the game at which point you can hire more party members.). It makes things feel very final and deliberate and in a game with this many options I reserve the right to be wishy-washy.

I hate to punish a game for having a lot of options and going the extra mile to make something you don't see very often. I do believe this game could make money if it were sold instead of freely available. My main issue is just the huge influx of options you have at the start of the game, and how poorly the game prepares you for what each of these options are. I think some dice rolling mechanics could improve it: For instance, when you choose between your ninja disarming the trap or using a ten foot pole: Why not show the DC for each check to succeed? And then show some rolly-dice and be like "Okay, phew, you made it!". I know there must be some kind of check like this going on behind the scenes, because when I took a snooze in the dungeon I was told I had "Just barely!" dodged catching a terrible illness. I would've loved to see that in fortitude check format. There's guys who talk about enchanting and smithing your armor: Why not explain a little more the mechanics of that? And when I do upgrade my equipment, I hate having to write down or remember if it's a light, medium or heavy armor, unequipping it from my party members, navigating the menu to upgrade it and then trying to remember which party member was equipping what.

I will say that the battles are much better balanced than Spellshard, and I haven't seen any ability for any character that made me think "Wow, that's totally useless.". Each class seems to have a good balance of in battle/out of battle utility, like I mentioned in my notes it's nice that attacks that are generally useless like "Steal GP" have an attack in this game to make them actually something you want to use as much as possible.

Long story short, I would recommend this game. It's not for everyone, but if you can put in an hour or two here and there, enjoy defeating every dungeon slowly but surely and if you can get used to all the damn choices you can make it's really a great game. If every game decided to use some of these systems they'd be a pain in the ass, but since most people have abandoned the old-school grindy/d20 inspired kind of stuff it seems novel and entertaining. There are so many good scripting effects, the graphics are beautiful, but it is a game you're going to have to think about.

(Oh, and I almost forgot my favorite thing: Hit L to look around and get flavor text for the area! Great work!)
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