Name: Dark Gates
Released: In Alpha right now
Developer: DFour Games
Processor: AMD A10-5800K
Video Card: Nvidia 650ti
Memory: 8GB DDR3
Distribution: Ubuntu 12.10 64bit
Graphics Driver: Latest stable
Desktop Environment: Cinnamon with compositing
Something I personally still think Linux lacks is a range of RPG-like games, while there are a few (Dungeons of Dredmor, Sacred Gold, Monster RPG 2) but not many that are really "amazing" in my eyes so, enter Dark Gates an RPG from DFour Games a 6 player party RPG game which reminds me a little bit of Final Fantasy, only a little though.
Dark Gates is a party based dungeon crawler where each game can play out differently since the paths are randomly generated so each game should be different and here is my review from the moments I have spent playing the game (courtesy of DFour Games for sending me over a review copy on Desura). Just be aware the game is in Alpha so anything could change.
The game pretty much throws you in at the "deep end" with no tutorial or story as such to get you started, you select your party and off you go to explore the dungeon to hopefully find some evil mage and kick his butt. While there isn't any tutorial the game basics are very easy anyone who has played any kind of turn based RPG will pick it up within seconds which is one of the great points about this title that is really is that easy to just pick up and play.
The movement is very simple and tile based you just press one of your arrow keys in a direction and you move, same goes for wanting to attack a creature just try to move to it's tile. This is where I was bugged by the game a little as well, only your party seems to move in the game the enemy once found seem to stay on their tile and make no attempt at chasing you - boring, give me a chase!
The movement does bug me a little with this type of game. I kind of expect there to be some sort of visual indictor for when I am moving my party on the screen or trying to open a door, but it doesn't have anything.
The combat in the game is where it reminds me of Final Fantasy (although not sure why that game springs to mind since most turn based RPG games will probably work this way) where you take it in turns to fight although you can try to get out of a fight by "Negotiating" or "Bribing" the enemy. The combat is where the game bugged me right away, you get to attack with all 6 of your characters before they get to land a hit making the game seamingly easy that is until...oh crap a troll, the troll has a shield and blocks your attacks sometimes...well this is a bit more interesting. Another quirk is that the Enemy has a "movement turn" which I'm not sure what happens as...well nothing happens.
Another niggle is that if you select a character for combat, select his weapon and then find out you can't use him you have to press excape twice to get back to being able to chose a differenty character before you can press F to skip the current character - you should be able to just press F to skip as soon as you know you can't hit anyone - don't make players jump through even small annoying hoops.
The developer said this about the skipping character bit:
QuoteNot really. Thanks for feedback :) i will add skip while selected in the next release.
Once you explore a bit more two things I found made me chuckle, you can find a "Magic Bed" which heals one character and Spiders that sound like Lions both for some reason gave me a small chuckle and made me want to see if there was more to the game than meets the eye. Apart from the chuckling sound of a Spider Lion the sound in the game is actually of decent enough quality I don't really have any issues with the sounds at all.
The in-game text also seems to need a bit of spit and polish on the flow of the text, for example I came across something called an "Altar" where a Demon is worshipped to get this text:
"Demon is trying to penetrate body and mind of the protagonist. Suddenly hero passes out on the floor. Team is rushing to help. Demon has inflicted some damage."
What I would like to see more of is animation, the game is very "paper based" (imagine playing a Dungeons and Dragons board game) so everything feels quite flat, it needs a little more on-screen activity I think just to keep people hooked in and interested.
The developer had this to say about the animations:
QuoteIn time i want to do more animations. Last release introduced magic & damage animations. I would like to continue add more but i can't give you any specifics as this is not my main focus right now.
Main exploration screen probably will stay as it is for now. At least i want to add trap door damage animations.
In original game monsters were static and did not move, so apart from some cosmetics i did not thought about any extras yet.
You can currently buy the game on Desura for £6.99 and get updated as the game progresses.
The Game as it stands, I will give overall a 6/10. As you can tell from my review, it has rough edges but It's in an alpha state for a reason so remember that folks, with a bit of work I could easily see this game being rather good. If you like turn based party RPG games it will be an easy hit for you.
To sum it up
What I liked
Random generation - keep each game new
Enemy portraits in combat are really nicely done
Sounds are good
What needs spit and polish
The game text
A little more explanation of the games functions
Needs a save system
Forgive me if this review isn't as good as Hamish's usually are, writing lots isn't a strong point of mine but I wanted to give it a go. If you have feedback go ahead...just be nice!
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