Dark Quest 2 is an isometric turn-based role-playing game developed and published by the folks at Brain Seal. Our story begins on the night of a joyous celebration at the King’s luxurious castle. One that quickly turns south and ends in a bloody massacre after an evil sorcerer crashes the party. With the night ruined and the air filled with dread, only a single village is spared for the monstrosities; however, they are haunted by the voices of the recently departed. Your quest, if you wish to accept it, is to lead your ragtag band of heroes on the ultimate journey to reclaim the castle and vanquish the sorcerer and his underlings once and for all. This adventure will not be an easy one and some may die along the way, but you are our last hope for any type of justice in this living hellscape we call home.
The gameplay is broken into two major sections, preparing yourself in the village and fighting through hordes of monsters in the dungeons, having a variety of similarities to games like Darkest Dungeons. The combat is turn-based dungeon-crawling at its finest mixed with a slew of puzzle-solving and item management. A majority of the mechanics in the game are relatively standard for the genre. You know the usual, the barbarian is tanky and swings his sword with might, while the wizard casts some spells and keeps enemies at a reasonable distance. Each character has a set number of moves that can be used to navigate the battlefield, attack, or interact with the environment to collect loot or solve puzzles to aid in the continuation of your quest. Battling can be quite simple, but frustrating at the same time. Once combat begins, it’s a matter of picking the biggest threat and playing to their weaknesses and hoping you do not get screwed over in the process. Most games of this caliber use percentages to quantify the effectiveness of the moves and this one is no different but comes with a twist. You see, the chance rolls go back to D&D roots and have the player roll dice to determine the statistics of their move. This was such a simple design choice that I feel brings this game back to the roots. While playing, I felt the game was bridging the gap between an XCOM and Diablo experience and I honestly can’t complain. I found the grid-based movement to be clunky and quite a hindrance when trying to maneuver traps or positioning yourself near enemies. On multiple occasions, I would select the tile to move upon and still find myself stepping on onto the trap, even if I map around the specific tiles. It was nice to keep everything in line and keep me on the correct path, but for exploration and maneuverability, I wish it would have been a bit more free-flowing.
The village is probably the most important stop on your journey. A location afflicted with despair that is somehow a beacon of shimmering light to aid you. Learn skills, craft weapons and potions, hire new help or mourn the fallen before embarking on each perilous quest. Hopefully, you fully prepare yourself, don’t want to add you to that pile of bodies over there, do you? We begin our journey controlling a mighty Barbarian; however, allies are not far behind and ready to take a bullet for you in your time of need. Other characters include the Mage, Archer, Holy Knight, Dwarf, and Dark Monk; each with their special attributes and personality. My hands-down favorite would be the Mage as the ranged abilities just felt the best overall and made for a change of pace from the Barbarian that we got used to. Death isn’t always the end for our heroes in Dark Quest 2. On lower difficulties, slain heroes can be resurrected for a steep price. So even then it would be beneficial to watch your back, you never know who wants your head on a spike. For the ones that like to live on the edge, hardcore difficulty is for you. Harder enemies and less health are the basis to this mode, but what makes matters worse, once you die, you are gone forever. Precaution is the name of the game here.
The visuals and soundtrack of Dark Quest 2 were quite hit or miss for me. I enjoyed the medieval setting and felt that the character models looked good for being a mobile experience. The design of the caves and caverns were twisted, yet intrinsic and provided an interesting variety of locations to explore. I felt the basic palette of blacks and browns helped aid in the eerie atmosphere that envelopes the experience from the beginning to the end. The feeling of an overbearing dark aura feels the game’s design and excels at keeping it fresh as you progress closer to your goal. The sounds and soundtrack don’t do nearly as much for me. I enjoyed the bardic melody that plays on the opening screen while spending some quality time with the villagers. However, the battle grunts and alternative music that accompanies you on your journey just didn’t even compete. Sure, it had some eerie tones intermixed, but I didn’t find it enjoyable to listen to while fighting and usually found myself playing on mute or with other music in the background.
Going into Dark Quest 2, I was not expecting much. I do not usually find myself playing mobile games and on the odd occasion that I do, they are primarily small clicker-type games or word puzzles. I have never really invested time into trying larger, expansive experiences when it came to mobile as I would primarily leave these for a better, in my opinion, way to interact with the narrative. However, I was pleasantly surprised with what was provided in this compact package and took a liking towards the game. Did it have its flaws, sure, but I honestly didn’t mind. This game kept my attention longer than almost every other mobile title I’ve played and gets me excited to try it out on console. My biggest issues were minor issues like lower visual fidelity and limited character animation, things I would assume would be present when dealing running on this hardware. I would recommend this to anyone into dungeon crawlers or turn-based combat as it does a good job at scratching that particular itch. It is available on almost every console and PC, in the event mobile isn’t your cup of tea, but you may end up being as surprised as I am with this version.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final SCore: 8/10
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