Overall Score 95%
Din's Curse: Demon War
Almost a year ago as I write this, I reviewed a rather spiffing game called Din's Curse. In this game the player took on the role of a would-be hero in the service of the god Din, and was tasked with saving a series of towns until Din considered this service complete. Each town was threatened by a dungeon beneath it and a horde of monsters that inevitably cause problems. If you took too long to get round to quests, things could get worse! The freeform style of play and the unlimited variance of equipment and monsters were key factors in it receiving a coveted Bytten Gold Star.
Soldak Entertainment have now released a few patches and an expansion pack, Demon War. They haven't messed with the serious stuff - the gameplay is much the same - but it does feature demons. Yes! New monsters! The demons have been minding their own business for a while now, but the undead have attacked their city and started a war. Demons are now fighting back against the undead and they don't particularly care much for humans either, so a whole batch of new (and rather mean) foes are out to get you. On the upside, this introduces a new character class - the Demon Hunter - with a range of interesting abilities. Your existing characters can happily carry right on, of course.
Other changes include a revamped world generation system - many more options, including some hardcore modes (like having no more of those handy resurrections - if you die once, the town dies with you) and some easier ones (like leaving out some of the nastier quests, such as town invasions). Townspeople themselves are more interactive now - they have their own equipment, which you can modify or loot; they have cash, which can mean they starve to death if they have no money or food for too long; they can curse and steal from each other, which leads to fights. There are some new items in the mix too, such as cheap/quality versions of existing food and empty vials that can be filled with any liquids you encounter in the dungeon.
It's been a while since my previous review, so I'm not clear about some of the other aspects, but graphically the game remains high quality. I am particularly fond of the weather effects, and can't identify whether any are new - I remember the lightning strikes (ouch!). Most of the graphics are as I remember, but I think there are some new styles in there too. If so, they clearly work so well that they blend in seamlessly! The sound remains much the same, which is to say excellent.
The gameplay isn't all that different. You still have a standard attack with the left mouse button and can set a special attack for the right mouse button, along with a range of special abilities triggered by mouse clicks or hotkeys. There are still keys to prevent accidental movement and toggle item names on/off. There's still the player and shared stash chests in town. The new features, such as the town level events, serve to add a little extra. There's only a small penalty for letting your townspeople starve to death (though it's nice to avoid the reputation loss!) unless they're your key members, such as the steward and warmaster, which will cause you problems later. There's still also the flurry of help messages when first starting out, which didn't overwhelm me this time largely because I already knew about it all. A tutorial mode in which players are given a much restricted set of options in order to learn the basics would be a great help here.
The other aspect of the game that let the original Din's Curse down was the samey nature of the quests. Once you won your freedom, it was just more hack'n'slash against steadily more powerful foes with no real aim. Here there has been some change - there's now an "Achievements" section that offers awards for players reaching certain goals. Some of these I'd already unlocked in my first playing session nearly a year ago - it remembered them! - and others would take some time. Reaching level 20 in various classes, owning armour worth a total of at least one gold piece, having a character with an average of at least 100 kills per death... there are lots of challenges for the player looking for a new aim. I can see myself attempting quite a few of these.
There's not much more to say at this point - obviously, if you want to play Demon War, you'll need to purchase the original game too, but existing players will get a bunch of extra features and content. If, like me, you've drifted away from Din's Curse, this expansion is perfect for getting you hooked once again. It says a lot that I meant to finish this review tonight and got distracted for an hour by "research"!
Bring on the demons!
Keywords: din's curse: demon war review, soldak entertainment reviews, soldak entertainment games, din's curse: demon war scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.