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Bev Chen
29 Apr, 2011

Din's Curse: Demon War Review

PC Review | What a wonderful night to have a curse.
“I am the God, Din. Though you served no god in your pathetic, despicable life, I have chosen to offer you redemption through service to me.” So begins the story, and subsequently, your quest in Din’s Curse (and its expansion, Demon War), an action RPG by independent game developer Soldak Entertainment. We played Din’s Curse with the Demon War expansion already installed, so we can’t really comment on how much has been changed since the first iteration of the game. What we can say is that Din’s Curse is a wonderful addition to any game library, with a solid combat system, excellent user interface and most interestingly, a dynamic game world.

Based purely on the opening quote alone, you’d be forgiven for making the assumption that Din’s Curse is a game with a linear storyline about a guy off to rescue a fair maiden in order to prevent a god from beating him up. Quite the contrary, actually – it’s more the case that Din’s Curse simply quotes the above line at you and throws you into a town, leaving you to do the missions you want to do in order to fulfil your quest of gaining freedom. While it is obvious that the game, through its storyline, eventually does finish, Din’s Quest is different from the vast majority of action RPGs for one key reason: almost everything in the game is randomly generated, from innocuous things like loot drops to dungeon layouts. This in itself gives the game a near-infinite replay value.

A level 65 redback... and we thought we Aussies had it bad.

A level 65 redback... and we thought we Aussies had it bad.
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If there’s one thing that’s for certain though, it’s that Din will always send you off to a decrepit town in need of a champion, which involves fighting your way through a multi-level dungeon. Exactly what is wrong with the town varies though; for example, the game generated one that featured plague-ridden inhabitants, whereas another had all but one of their villagers suffering from petrification. This in turn affects, but doesn’t limit, the kinds of quests you are given. So while your priority may be to find a cure for the plague, expect to find yourself avenging deaths and killing giant snakes later on. However, don’t take your own sweet time when playing Din’s Quest. Every quest runs in real time, which means that if you don’t find ten moth wings in a certain time limit, there’s a very good chance an NPC will beat you to it. Additionally, you’ll find that the town will occasionally come under attack by demons and other nasty creatures. Once again, acting quick is the key, or you could find yourself standing in the middle of a pile of bodies with Din telling you about how badly you have failed. NPCs serve to play far larger roles than most RPGs and may get jealous of one another, start fights and even betray the town. They are only human though, and are affected by problems like death and starvation, so it’s a good idea to donate to them unless you want to tarnish your squeaky-clean reputation. These factors do add a lot of stress, but are a clever and challenging addition to a game with what would otherwise be standard point-and-click action gameplay.

Players wanting to relax a little more can do a variety of things in order to lower the difficulty. There is, of course, the ability to change the difficulty level. Soldak Entertainment has made it very clear how this affects gameplay by using a numerical scaling system. If your player is level 16, the ‘normal’ difficulty level would be the same level as your character. Likewise, changing this number to a higher or lower value will scale the difficulty. In addition to this, you can opt to change the size of the dungeon, the speed NPCs go about their activities, and the pacing of how fast quests advance. There are also options for things like ‘Low Stress’ (no town attacks, but you get less experience points as a result) and ‘Invasion Mode’ (in which 100 waves of enemies attack the town). The best thing about these choices is that you can mix and match them to your choosing before you generate each town, leading to a lot of variety each time. Sick of the town you’re trying to save? You can always create a new one. Din apparently has no problem with that.

Chances are at least one of these NPCs is going to starve to death.

Chances are at least one of these NPCs is going to starve to death.
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But of course, before going on these adventures, you’ll have to create a character first. We’re pleased to report that the character creator in Din’s Curse is quite substantial, featuring six classes and eighteen specialty tech trees (seven classes and 21 tech trees in Demon War). Choosing a base class nets you three tech trees to put your skill points in when you level up, as well as limiting your attributes, such as the kind of weapons and armour you can use. This, however, means that you can’t spend your skill points on being able to equip other weapons or armour later on in the game, which is a bit annoying. Fans of customisation will be pleased to know that you can create your own class by mixing two of the pre-existing ones together and then choosing a tech tree from each. While this does give the opportunity for players to gain as many starting skills as possible, it also leaves a lot of room for overlap and wastage of skill slots. There are also a handful of interesting traits that you can select for your character, like ‘poverty’ and ‘clumsy’. Again, this encourages players to keep replaying the games with different characters, and to see how their choices affect the gameplay.

However, we did, find a couple of problems that aren’t game-breakers for sure, but are a little annoying to deal with. We occasionally found controlling our character to be a little wonky, as at points it seemed that it was running into an invisible obstacle. Whether it was because there was actually an item in our way that we couldn’t see or whether the controls were genuinely messing up is up for debate, but it was only after a sigh of frustration that we decided to path our way around it. The quest system can sometimes be a little counter-intuitive. Some quests don’t need to be accepted in order to be completed (which works to our advantage), but there are others that do. It takes a little while to work out and memorise which of these rules apply to which types of quests, but some players will find this unnecessarily frustrating.

Duck and cover!

Duck and cover!
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While Din’s Curse isn’t the prettiest game, the animations are pleasing to the eye and the enemy models vary quite substantially. The user interface is very well-designed too, and apart from the hint system only being accessible from flashing tooltips that disappear after you click on them, there weren’t any problems that we had with it. Loot drops are instantly recognisable, thanks to a button that toggles their visibility on and off for you, and you have the ability to assign skills to numerical shortcuts. Music and sound effects, while repetitive, don’t get annoying, and overall lend themselves well to the whole doom and gloom nature of the game world.

Gamers who regularly complain that games nowadays are too short and offer limited replay value would do well to look into Din’s Curse and Demon War. Its dynamic town and quest generation and well-crafted character creator offers close to infinite replayability, and its solid game mechanics make for some awesome combat situations. Without a doubt, Din’s Curse is a great gaming experience from start to finish... if you ever decide there is an end.
The Score
If you’re looking for something much more different from a typical hack-and-slash RPG and want plenty of challenge, Din’s Curse and its expansion, Demon War, will be sure to sate your appetite for a long, long time. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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9 Comments
2 years ago
I've actually always wanted to pick this up but a) the graphics turned me off, and b) could not find it for sale. Where abouts can I pick it up (and please don't say Steam icon_smile.gif)
2 years ago
Cyph you can't have looked very hard

First google result for "Din's Curse" icon_lol.gif
2 years ago
Sorry, I should've been clearer. I meant like in a store icon_smile.gif Guess if that is the only way then I should order it online.
2 years ago
oh wow, never heard of this game before but the dynamic world generation sounds really interesting.
2 years ago
That's EXACTLY what I've wanted from games, dynamic NPC's that don't just revolve around the player. I must have this game.
2 years ago
Great review.. sounds fantastic...
Whats the Co-op multiplayer like???
2 years ago
Adie57 wrote
Great review.. sounds fantastic...
Whats the Co-op multiplayer like???
Truth be told, I didn't get to give it a shot. I couldn't find any servers and I don't have any friends who own it. Dang them all.

It's a fantastic single-player game nevertheless. I broke my mouse playing it so much.
2 years ago
Shhh... the review was enough, stop making me want the game more - I simply don't have time to play it with all the rest icon_sad.gif
2 years ago
So I've given the demo a whirl... what a strange game. I'm not sure what I think of it to tell the truth. My first town was fairly quiet, not much happening. The dungeon was also a bit of a yawnfest. Soooo, I re-rolled my character. Wow. This second town is filled with people starting fights between themselves, stealing from each other, dying of starvation, traveling merchants, they even storm the dungeon with me. Completely bizarre! I'll keep giving this a go, it seems to strange.

Bev, any advice/tips you can give, especially regarding (recommended) classes?
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

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