Posted by Jamie Laike Tsui on Apr 28, 2013

Dark Quest HD Review

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Dark Quest HD
Developer: Brain Seals Limited
Publisher: Brain Seals Limited
Platform: iPad
Release Date: April 24th, 2013
Price: $2.99 – Available Here
Overview

Dark Quest HD is an unofficial clone of the 1989 board game HeroQuest. The game has been streamlined for the modern audience.

Story

Dark Quest HD does not seem to have much of a plot. Zantor the Barbarian, Thorin on the Dwarf, and Zerin the Wizard has banded together to explore dungeons and protect the village of Faldir from an evil sorcerer.  The story does not get much deeper than that. The writing is poor. There are basic grammar errors that could have been caught if the game’s script was put through Microsoft Word. The dialogue is rather wooden and forgettable. The game’s story seems to be an afterthought.

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Gameplay

Dark Quest HD is a turn based RPG that keeps true to its board game roots. The player is provided with a limited amount of turns to complete the level. There are three stars to collect in each level for bonus points. The dungeons themselves are littered with monsters, traps, and loot to collect. Once the level is complete, players return to the town above to stock up on potions, learn new abilities, and rest in the tavern.

The basic premise of the game is fun. There is good bit of strategy involved and the game serves as an excellent gateway drug to turn based strategy RPGs. The combat is streamlined, the rolls calculated silently in the background. I would have loved to see the results of these rolls displayed in the corner to better link it to its board game roots.

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The game needs a better tutorial in the beginning. The extent of the tutorial is a skeletal hand that points where the player should tap for the first few moves. After that, a few hints of varying helpfulness appear in the game’s encyclopedia. The rest must be discovered through trial and error.

If the player moves the party leader, in most cases Zantor the Barbarian, then the other two characters will follow accordingly. The AI tends to be pretty stupid. They follow the party leader blindly, stepping onto traps and not bothering to attack enemies in their turn half the time. Often times I found myself controlling the other party members first then moving the party leader last to use my turns more efficiently. I would have preferred an option in the game to force each character to move separately. Fixes for the AI’s pathing is one of Brain Seal’s announced changes for the upcoming patch.

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I found the evil sorcerer’s rolls of fate to be intrusive. They seem to come at completely random times and feel more like an annoying distraction than anything else. If the game could better incorporate the rolls of fate within the overhead map instead of changing screens completely and requiring the player to tap the skull. The crystal ball loot is seems more pointless, completely distracting the player from the game for a Magic 8-ball style fortune telling session. According to an editor who is experienced with the HeroQuest board game, these fortune telling sessions is supposed to grant an attack buff to the player. Unfortunately, the game leaves unexperienced players in the dark about what these crystal ball rolls are actually for.

Visuals

The visuals in Dark Quest are pay homage to fantasy board games of the early 1990’s. The art reminds me of old Dungeons and Dragons player manuals from that era. Icons have been inspired by modern fantasy games like Warcraft and Diablo. The UI is very simple and unobtrusive. I do wish the encyclopedia/hint system were better organized. The game simply stacks them in chronological order in a list that pops up from the side of the screen. I would have preferred to see a separate screen for this information.

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Audio

Dark Quest HD completes the nostalgia with its audio. The music and sound effects are reminiscent of older PC games from the early to mid 1990’s. The music help builds the creepy dungeon feel without being annoying or distracting from the game. The sound effects are simple and used sparingly, which is effective at keeping the nostalgic feel of the game.

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Overall

For fans of the HeroQuest games, Dark Quest HD is a no brainer. The game keeps a nostalgic feel with some solid turn based strategy RPG gameplay. Those who have not played the board game will be find themselves a little lost. For those willing to make the effort to figure out the game, they will find a diamond in the rough.

7-0-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

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