Depths of Peril Review
|Release Date:||Out now|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
The words 'Diablo-clone' are thrown around a lot in RPG reviews, and not always in a good way. This game, however, is more like the bastard son of the Diablo-clone family, taking the best of that genre and evolving into a different type of RPG.
Depths of Peril puts you in the sandals/boots/slippers of a titular hero who can take the form of a warrior, rouge, priest or mage, depending on whether you want to stealth up your enemies or make them explode. Your character is the leader of a faction, or a 'covenant,' within the barbarian city of Jorvik- the last bastion of humanity in a world filled with monsters. Along with your own faction there are several other groups which are vying for power and influence and it will be up to you to beg, borrow, steal, fight or butter-up the other covenants if you want to make your way to the top.
And that's where Depths of Peril overtakes other Diablo-clones, this game is more than just your basic 'wander the world while fighting monsters and collecting pointless bits of glass' RPG, this one attempts to be a jack of all trades, merchant diplomat and warrior all rolled into one.
Your character starts with a low skill level, no armour and not much prospect of getting either any soon, but a few quests later and you will be well on your way to victory over the other factions and the slobbering beasties outside of the city's walls.
Through a clever combat and skills system, whatever class of character you chose can lever up fairly quickly, unlocking higher skills, more powerful attacks and better equipment from the merchants that wander the streets and fields of the world. The skills menus are all very easy to work with, using a simple drag and drop approach to advancement which makes levelling up pain free and opens up a lot of options for the discerning mage or warrior to specialise, or stick with being an all round fighter.
Weapons, items, food and relics are all colour coded depending on the price you can sell them for and the properties that they have, and your characters' inventory also works on the drag and drop system, so turning your weedy warrior into a brazen barbarian is quick and easy.
Quest-wise, there is no shortage of things to do, and even though many of the quests feel pointless (like killing 10 skeletons or stealing 4 pixie tails) there is always something else to do and many things to kill or harvest.
Jorvik itself is more a village with a city, with small buildings and shop stalls dominating the landscape and a space allocated for each of the covenants to house their loot, their members and their 'lifestone': the source of their power and a symbol of the covenant.
The city itself is a living, breathing entity, and as the leader of a covenant it is down to you to work with the other covenants or go to war with them, striking alliances and declaring war is surprisingly simple and to strengthen your covenants you will have to recruit other NPC's to fill your lines with willing warriors. Your house, which has plenty of storage for all your quest items, armour and weapons (of which there are thousands) serves as your headquarters, and you can hire mercenaries to protect it from being raided by other covenants.
Relations between the opposing covenants are managed through another series of sub-menus, which are fairly straightforward, and any changes in the diplomatic situation are bought to your attention with flashing icons and simple yes/no choices. The relationships between the six covenants are all intertwined and they will ally or go to war with each other as well as keeping a wary eye on your own group- it's not uncommon for two opposing covenants to decide to wipe you out before you grow to big for comfort.
The overall objective of the game is to destroy or absorb all the other covenants and become the ruler of Jorvik, and this can be done in several ways. You can raid the enemies' covenant house and destroy their lifestone, ally yourself with them and gradually usurp their influence or manipulate them into submission with dodgy deals and rumour spreading.
But it's not all shiny gems and sharp short-swords; Depths of Peril suffers more than a few faults below its fantasy exterior. Like many other so called Diablo-clones, the game is played with an isometric perspective and this doesn't really flatter the graphics, the characters are not animated to the level you might expect of a modern game and the world itself is not very inspiring to the eye. Still, it's not terrible considering the tiny size of the development team. Jorvik seems more like a tiny village than a prosperous town, and the predictable areas surrounding the settlement (open fields, dangerous dungeons etc) aren't very well detailed.
The game lacks multiplayer or network support of any kind and it really feels like a missed opportunity, it would have been great to be playing with five of your friends as competing covenants.
Also, the whole experience can be a little overwhelming at first as the game doesn't really offer an in-depth tutorial, you're basically expected to learn everything as you go, and that can be difficult when you have bigger covenants snapping at your heels.
Overall, Depths of Peril is definitely worth a try, graphics and learning curve aside, the game offers plenty of depth and the diplomatic aspect of the game gives it a lot more punch than other RPGs on the market at the moment. However, it is definitely not for the RPG beginner and don't expect a game to rival the likes of Oblivion in looks and depth.
- Lots to see and do
- Diplomacy is a challenge
Not so good stuff
- Dated graphics
- Steep learning curve
- Tutorial could be better
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