The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos Review
On the list of “genres that aren’t in need of a parody game”, you’d think that cRPGs would be near the top. Although shooters and hack-and-slashers have started to become too serious for their own good, it’s long been a staple of sword and board games to have a fair amount of self-aware humour in them. Even in the genre’s darkest outings, there’s always more than a few jokes made about how every fantasy game is just a glorified Dungeons and Dragons game. However, because we’re officially living in the weirdest timeline, Artefacts Studio chose to ignore this and make their own attempt at a silly turn-based combat game with The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos.
Unlike with most games in the genre, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos doesn’t try to waste your time introducing you to its world or story. Immediately after starting a new game, you’re given control of a pre-created party full of the expected set of fantasy characters, thrown into a dungeon and given a quest to find an amulet. A narrator then tells you that the reason you need to find that amulet is because that’s what groups of mercenaries do, that the dungeon is actually full of enemies that’ll need killing for essentially the same reason, and you listen to few snide remarks about your party before being set loose in the game’s world to follow quest markers and listen to witty lines from your party.
As appreciated as the no time-wasting part of the introduction is, the problem is that the game wastes your time by asking you to sit through what amounts to the most painfully mediocre cRPG experience this side of Company of Crime. Over the game’s 20-odd hour runtime, you can expect to do the same thing that you can do in literally every other turn-based combat fantasy game. You manage your party’s inventory, level them up, keep them healed and play through turn-based fights that aren’t terrible but aren’t great either. You accept quests, complete quests, deal with in-fighting within your party and so on and so on and so on.
None of this is particularly bad, but none of it is interesting or more enjoyable than it is in every other game in the genre, either. Playing The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos elicits the same feeling as watching the Netflix knock-offs of Game of Thrones. The core idea of what makes games like Wasteland great are still here, but they just don’t feel quite as good somehow. The combat feels a hair too slow, the leveling up feels a bit too fast and you can’t customise your party’s physical appearance. None of these things ruin the game, but it’s also hard to really enjoy it when you know that there are better games that you could be playing.
So instead of relying on its gameplay, the game tries to focus on its writing, which it does with mixed results. As mentioned previously, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos fancies itself as a parody game, and it does this with Deadpool humour. Throughout the length of the game, every character breaks the fourth wall frequently while swearing and using sexual innuendos. It’s a bit crude and it’s very hit-and-miss, but for the most part it’s enjoyable to listen to your party’s banter. There are also some fun item descriptions and skill names, and these two things combined help to alleviate some of the boredom that can be found in the gameplay or when trying to pay attention to the game’s story.
The story, then, is okay. Like with the gameplay, it’s not terrible but it’s not great either. Your initial task of finding an amulet quickly turns into something more than that, and without getting into spoilers, the story plays out about as you’d expect it to. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll meet some characters that spout lines from that aforementioned hit-and-miss writing, and you occasionally go on a fun quest, but the story is never captivating or interesting. Every time you boot up the game, you’ll likely forget what was going on in your previous session because of this, which is far from a good thing.
On a more positive note, though, the game’s audio design is definitely worth calling attention to, even when the rest of the art design isn’t. Between the game’s voice acting, music and sound design, the game doesn’t quite offer an audio experience to rival Pink Floyd, but considering how bland the rest of the game is, it’s definitely a highlight of the overall experience. The voice acting in particular is fantastic, with genuinely skilled voice actors reading almost every line in the game. The music and ambient sound is great too, and although it doesn’t quite rival games like XCOM, it comes surprisingly close and this helps to make a mediocre game occasionally more enjoyable.
However, none of these things can quite offset the extreme prevalence of bugs in The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos. Although it’s rarely worth calling attention to a game’s technical problems when they’ll likely be patched out soon, the game has so many of them that it’s definitely of note here. Throughout our playthrough, Jump Dash Roll encountered quite a few lines that were in French when our game was set to be in English, a number of crashes to desktop, one story-essential vendor being bugged and a handful of infinite loading screens. At times this seriously hindered our ability to play the game, which when the game wasn’t very good to begin with, made it hard to keep playing to the point where we could reasonably write our review.
So with this in mind, and the rest of the game’s mediocrity, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos is a tough sell. The game does have some solid writing, and the audio work is surprisingly good, but the rest of the experience is either painfully mediocre or flat out bad. For fans of cRPGs there are significantly better options on the market, and for people looking for a laugh, there’s no shortage of games that can provide that, either.
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