Do not get me wrong, there is nothing bad about having a generic first game when you are just starting out. No one has created a masterpiece in their first attempt and that’s okay. What is not okay is to sell this initial attempt at the price of an original, high-quality indie title. Dungeons of Betrayal – an RPG Maker game by Darkelite Studio, currently available on Steam Early Access for $4.99.
The writing style and story that are available in this Early Access version are anything but adequate. The entire story feels rushed and botched together. Dialogues are clunky and confusing. Quite honestly, the entire narrative is confusing and barely makes any sense. I just couldn’t feel invested in the story, nor did I find anything original or appealing in it. The overall narrative design and the writing style are both disappointing and not worth paying any attention to.
This makes the fights feel more like a chore than anything else. They are not a matter of tactics or skill and winning or losing is defined by whether you have bought enough potions to last you through the whole dungeon. When it comes to character abilities, their balance is anything but adequate. Two different skills with vastly different damage output and level requirements will often cost the same amount of mana. This means that the moment one of your heroes learns a new skill, the ones that they knew before become obsolete and you will spam the same spells over and over again.
There is only one puzzle that I will remember and that’s inside the Man of Arms’ home. To pass through that dungeon, players need to navigate between traps that shoot fireballs. Timing is everything here and there is a way to flawlessly dodge all the traps on your way in. However, making your way out of the dungeon means backtracking through this carefully-designed puzzle. Unfortunately, the level designer did not take into account that timing-based puzzles do not always work as well when going back through them. Therefore, it is absolutely impossible to make your way out of that basement without taking significant damage. If you don’t have enough potions, you could easily be stuck there with no way of making it out alive.
All things considered, the gameplay feels generic and unbalanced. It has too many flaws to be really enjoyable, but it is still passable. Considering the game is in Early Access, Darkelite Studio do have a chance of fixing it before release and I certainly hope they take this opportunity.
Graphics and Audio
I am not sure if the soundtrack is original or not, but the sound effects are definitely the default ones that come with RPG Maker MV. Yet, if the software offers a good library of sounds, there is nothing bad in using them to your advantage. Having the default sounds of the engine doesn’t take anything away from the game, but on the other hand – it doesn’t add anything either. As for the graphics, these often do not make much sense. The tilesets are obviously not custom-made for the game. I have seen them in other titles before and while they do look good, they are far from original.
As for the character portraits during dialogues, they do not fit the rest of the game at all. While the entire title comes with old-school pixel graphics, the character portraits look like they were drawn for an 80s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. What’s more, some of the character portraits do not even look like the sprite on the map. A tiny dog guarding a door could turn out to actually be a huge bipedal werewolf. When it comes to the battlers inside a fight, the heroes in the player’s party are obviously made with the default character generator of the software, while the opponents often employ different styles of art and look inconsistent at best.
In conclusion, while the audio is not bad, the graphics are generic and often make no sense. In case someone hasn’t realized it yet, let me tell you – medieval fantasy worlds should not feature a modern toilet and a TV in each house.
In its current state, Dungeons of Betrayal can be described as mediocre and uninspiring at best. There is obviously some thought put into the game’s concept, but the execution from that point onwards is lacking.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the story is laughable, but I couldn’t find anything good in it either. It relies on overused tropes and dialogues that sound extremely unrealistic and childish. While each element of the graphics is okay on its own, they do not make sense when put together. The gameplay feels dull and monotonous – going through a dungeon, which is the main point of the game, is a chore instead of a challenge. Admittedly, the audio is okay, but with so many flaws, there is no way for the soundtrack and sound effects to save the title.
Currently, Dungeons of Betrayal is not worth the five bucks. Unfortunately, with such a foundation, Darkelite Studio have a lot of work before they can ask such a price for their game. And, judging by the way they have approached the project so far, I am not sure if they have the chops to redeem this mediocre game and make it something I would enjoy playing.
|+ Acceptable graphics quality;||– Rushed story and narrative design;|
|+ Pleasing soundtrack and SFX quality;||– Inconsistent graphics style;|
|+ No random encounters;||– Huge balancing issues;|