The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos Review

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2020-09-17
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Now, the unfortunate thing about the difficulty is that to some degree it feels artificial due to the game's itemization. With how the game is structured, you don’t get a lot of choice in where you can go at any given point and so, for the most part, the loot you get is set in stone. And with every party member using gear that’s unique to them, this leads to a situation where some of your characters are destined to be underpowered at certain points.

And this leads us back to that whole uneven thing. Unfortunately, the game’s combat design hasn’t managed to escape its curse. As mentioned previously, there are plenty of unique mechanics here, and while some of them are quite nice, others range from mildly annoying to entirely pointless, like the Retreat system that for all intents and purposes might as well not exist.

Other systems of dubious impact include long-term health management (you can always trek back to a tavern to heal), energy regeneration (battles tend to end before you run out of energy), consumables (it’s always better to just attack than to spend a turn applying a minor buff), harmful surfaces (when direct attacks can deal dozens if not hundreds of damage, it’s very hard to even notice minor DoTs), and the list goes on.

Some other things are outright just clunky. Like how you can’t cancel a move before finalizing your turn. The UI can also give you minor troubles, and in general, everything isn't quite as smooth as you'd like it to be.

The game’s AI once again falls into the uneven category. Overall, it’s quite decent. It goes after your squishier characters, tries to cancel your overwatch shots, and frequently destroys your cover. But then, at times it can simply decide to skip its turn or run through a bunch of opportunity attacks for no good reason.

One last thing to mention here is the fact that the game lets you respec your characters. Usually, I’m not a fan of respeccing and prefer to live with the results of my suboptimal choices, but I don’t get too bent out of shape when a game lets you redistribute some skills.

Here, though, respeccing can easily break the intended skill progression. Basically, to advance to a new tier of skills, you have to invest a certain number of skill points, both active and passive. Upon gaining a level, you get one active and one passive skill, you spend them, and after a few levels, you unlock a new tier.

The thing is, the game only cares about the total point investment. So, after getting a few levels, you can go buy the respec potion, spend a bunch of passive skill points to unlock multiple tiers at once, and then only pick the strongest active skills. It honestly feels more like a bug than an intended interaction.

Technical Information

And this leads us to the big elephant in the room. Bugs. There’s too many of them to count right now. In fact, for a while, I couldn’t even finish a playthrough. I got as far as Chapter 8 on the pre-release review build and then the game essentially soft-locked itself during a story battle. I then started a new playthrough once the game was actually out, only to get stuck again, this time around Chapter 6.

I was actually about to post this review without having completed the game when a patch hit and fixed the issue. But, even though the game can actually be completed now, it still has plenty of less critical but nonetheless annoying bugs that range from attributes and skills not working as intended to missing strings of text and animations.

Beyond the bugs, this is a Unity game, and it does the Unity thing where the further you get, the longer it takes to save and load. And while spending three or four seconds to save the game isn’t too bad, this same processing bloat for some reason extends to the AI, resulting in it taking forever to resolve its turns in the later stages.

Other than that, the music and visuals are pretty decent and fit the game well, and the save system is adequate and has everything you’d want from a save system.

Oh, and since this is a Unity title we’re talking about here, do make sure to enable VSync or limit the framerate in some other way if you want your GPU to live a long and productive life.

Conclusion

In the end, while the game is definitely playable right now, it really needs at least a few more months in the oven. Then, even though the developers don’t seem to know how to get out of their own way and separate their bad ideas from the good, the combination of those good ideas will surely make The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos worthy of a playthrough or two. Especially if you're someone who enjoys zany humor, challenging tactical combat, or some combination of both.