MSRP: $9.99 / $14.99 with Demon Wars DLC
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux
Soldak Entertainment is a developer I stumbled across when I found their game, Zombasite, on Steam and downloaded the demo. Turns out, they’ve made several APRGs that all share a dynamic events system. I picked up Din’s Curse & its expansion, Demon Wars on sale not too long ago (along with their previous Depths of Peril), and decided to give it a try.
The main thing that differentiates Soldak titles from other ARPGs is that the world is constantly changing as you play. Not only are you influencing things via your actions, your inaction is just as important. Spend too much time exploring and ignoring your quests, and bad things will happen that you’ll also be expected to deal with. It’s also not at all uncommon for you to stumble across two groups of monsters fighting with each other. It makes for some hectic and pressured game play.
Still, it’s one of their simpler titles – you have one job, and that’s to save town after town until you redeem yourself in the eyes of Din. There are no other factions to be concerned with, you don’t need to recruit people for your clan, and there is very little over-world content. Din’s Curse is a quest-based dungeon crawler that allows you to tweak your world settings between each town you save – or fail to save.
The base game has 6 classes (with Demon Wars adding a seventh), and each class has three specialties. When you’re first starting out, you probably just want to choose a class and roll with it, but you are able to make a hybrid out of any two specialties. You have access to fewer abilities overall, but it leaves the door open for all kind of interesting combinations. There are also quite a few advanced options to add challenge to your play in different ways, opening up a lot of possible replay value.
Still, there’s not a lot of depth to combat in Din’s Curse, and you’re going to be spending most of your time slaughtering dungeon denizens. A lot of the best skills are passive, and I’ve managed to reach level 10 on my ranger with only two active skills on my bars (not including basic attack). If you don’t have a lot of patience with left clicking over and over and over again, you’re likely to get bored and wander off before too long. There’s almost no story here – just killing and whole lot more loot than you’re ever going to be able to carry.
Inventory management is a nuisance – bags are rare, and at least early on are pretty damn small, and you can’t use your personal or shared stash without first putting bags in it. The quest log feels unnecessarily limiting – more than once I’ve run into a quest while in the dungeon only to be told “There’s no space in your log for this quest.” The Demon Wars expansion adds starvation quests, which really seem to be primarily a gold sink, as the easiest way to complete them is to give the townspeople money so they can buy some damn food.
But saving a town is still somehow very satisfying – you move on knowing you did everything you could to help the people there, and ready to take on new challenges. Din’s Curse also offers multiplayer, with no player limit to game sizes, but it’s not something I’ve had an opportunity to try for myself. It’s a solid introduction to the kind of game that Soldak creates, and a good way for a new player to learn the ropes before adding in the additional mechanics present in their other titles. It’s a lot of game for $15, and I highly recommend that ARPG fans at least try out the demo.