The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos Review
Are you a fan of turn based rpg’s inspired by X-Com? Are you old enough that you actually remember the quirky humour of The Bard’s Tale? Then buckle up because today we are talking about The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos (that was a mouthful).
You can find this review in video format as well.
TDON (that’s what I’m calling this game from now on) is a tactical rpg where you take the role of every rpg character that ever existed, trying to escape the curse of the Amulet of Chaos, exploring the dungeon in question and trying to destroy its source. If all of the above sounds very generic to you, it’s because it is, and the developers want it to be that way.
You see, the original idea for this game came from a popular french audio comedy series that parodies every rpg trope we know, love and get cheesed by. Personally and during my research, I didn’t understand anything by listening to the audio drama, because I don’t speak french. So I cannot compare to the original material. Some music tracks are the same I think.
The game mechanics felt mostly similar to the X-Com series, with the classic percentages of success (that can often miss even if your chance is 98%. You know what I’m talking about). When it’s battle time you are usually in a big room and you have some places where you can take cover. You set the position of your characters and depending on their initiative they take turns. On the top of the screen you can see the turn of both allies and friends so you can strategize even more. For example if an enemy plays after you and their health is low, you can risk the Elf shooting with her bow over a long distance and with lower hit percentages.
An interesting mechanic TDON introduces is the Randomia Influence Gauge that has to do with critically failed actions. If you have played X-Com before, you definitely raged at some point when your character missed from a very close distance even though they had a high percentage to succeed. This happens here too. So in order for the game to sweeten the pill, it gives you a bar that when it fills, you have the option to do a few interesting stuff, for example have the character that missed do another action.
It might sound that this bar makes the game easier but that’s not the case. I played in normal difficulty and I never felt that this bar was like a cheat or something. In most situations I even forgot it was there until I missed a high percentage attack and was ready to rage. When I noticed it, I was like “Hey, let’s see if the bar is filled”. Not bad, not good but a nice thing to have there.
Generally I would like more dense maps with more places for cover and strategy. The fighting areas are big but they don’t have that many things that you can hide and move to, so I found the strategic options to be limited. Most of the times I would position my characters as best as I could and after the fight begun I would stay very close to the same place, waiting for the enemies to come to me. Still, there are definitely strategic options to try and each new turn you will have to adapt to the situation. I did enjoy the battles, even though I would have liked more strategic places to move to.
Storywise, the game has a completely generic setup as I mentioned before but it filters everything through comedy, so it makes most of the playthrough enjoyable. Unfortunately most of the jokes and humour don’t land for me. Many times I thought that the game is aiming at a younger audience because of that, but there are swears in there so I don’t think a parent would be happy if their child said those words out loud. I checked the settings and there wasn’t an option to turn off swearing (not that I’d want to, I’m just thinking of the children).
The main theory I have why the humour doesn’t land is probably because the french jokes don’t translate well to english. I have seen this before in Asterix, my favourite comic series of all times. I’ve read it in greek and it was perfect, then I read it in english and it was really bad. So, devs, maybe translate TDON to greek?
Besides that, in TDON you have everything you would want from a tactical rpg. A Ranger, an Elf, A Dwarf and most of the main classes and races of DnD 5E, stat, weapon and equipment upgrades, interesting item names, a chicken quest and a narrator. The voice acting is very good by the way.
I have a feeling that those of you who have followed the original audio comedy series will connect way more with the world, the characters and their background. For the rest, this is a very nice tactical rpg, worthy of your attention, especially if you are itching for the X-Com gameplay in a different but also very familiar setting.
Watch the trailer here
~Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas