Din's Curse + Demon War Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Independent
Developer:Soldak Entertainment
Release Date:2010-03-31
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
In case you didn't follow the development, release, and expansion of Din's Curse on GameBanshee over the past year or so, it's an action role-playing game that was released independently by Soldak Entertainment in March of last year.  A couple of months ago, Soldak also released the Demon War expansion pack, adding new enemies, quests, and generally more things to do while playing the game, so this review is for the two titles combined.

The premise behind Din's Curse is that you behaved badly during your first life on the planet, and so the god Din has cursed you to return and redeem yourself during your second go-around.  To do that, you have to travel to a number of towns and complete enough quests to save them.  Each town is basically a mini-Diablo, with NPC shopkeepers and quest-givers on the surface, and monsters and loot in the multi-level dungeon underground.

Each town is randomly generated when you visit it.  That means you never know what sorts of monsters you're going to face, or what kinds of quests you're going to receive.  Nicely, Soldak gives you lots of options for creating the towns.  You can specify the starting level of the monsters, the size of the dungeon, the pace of the game, and more.  The difficulty is important, because monsters can visit the surface and attack the town, and if too many NPCs get killed, then you fail the current town and have to move on to the next.

Character creation is straightforward.  Din's Curse comes with six base classes, each with three skill trees.  These classes are fairly standard, and include the likes of warriors, rogues and priests, but you can also create "hybrid" classes by picking any two of the skill trees from the base classes.  That means Din's Curse has 141 different class combinations for you to try out.  Meanwhile, the Demon War expansion pack adds in the demon hunter base class, and so it has 196 combinations available.  Besides the classes, there are also numerous difficulty options that you can select for each character, including "hardcore" (you only die once), "unlucky" (you find fewer magic items), and "lost" (you don't get to use a map).  So Din's Curse gives you way more options for creating characters than you'll probably ever need, which is a good thing.

Each character is defined by a collection of attributes and skills.  The attributes include things like strength, dexterity and intelligence, which do about what you'd expect, and each skill tree contains 10 skills.  Interestingly, none of the skills have prerequisites, but some are more expensive than others.  For example, in the warrior's "defender" tree, the shield bash skill only costs one point for its first rank, while the plate mail skill costs 15.  Each time characters level up, they gain five points to spend on their attributes and an increasing number of points to spend on skills (starting with 2 skill points at level 2 and growing to 8 by level 30), so that eventually they can afford the expensive skills.  I played my a warrior to level 30 in the game, and I never even came close to maxing him out.