Dark Quest 2 – The Switch Island Review
For those who grew up in the ’90s, they may remember a little well-known board game called Hero Quest which was plastered all over magazine and TV adverts left right and centre. This game took the table-top world by storm back then, and the developers of Dark Quest 2 – Brain Seal – have cited Hero Quest as being one of the key inspirations for their game. And that is no bad thing, believe me!
An isometric, hand drawn, turn based RPG, you find yourself tasked with defeating an evil sorcerer who has decided to claim squatters’ rights the local castle. To help in completing your eviction, you must recruit brave warriors to aid you, these being; a warrior, a knight, a wizard, a dwarf, a dark monk and an archer. However, you may only take up to a maximum of three characters into each quest with you so make sure you choose well.
The local village serves as the launch pad for each quest, and those who have played the likes of Darkest Dungeon will feel quite at home here. You can choose options from various villagers in preparation for your journey which include an alchemist for your potions, blacksmith for weapons crafting, magician to learn spells and so on. There’s also a brothel where you can purchase elixirs from the local Madam for your characters to help boost your stats for the upcoming quest, although I’m not quite sure if it’s the elixirs themselves that pick your warrior up or…
This town area itself does take a little navigating and getting used to, but you soon get to grips quite easily.
Once in a quest, you navigate a series of rooms to reach the end of level destination. Each room has a tiled floor and you are only able to move a certain number of tiles each move. Couple this with the myriad of traps, treasures to find and prisoners to rescue, you soon find yourself exploring the whole area of each map to see what awaits.
Also contained within the rooms are numbers of enemies that wouldn’t look out of place in Middle Earth; goblins, trolls, orcs et al… they are all here and I quite liked the character designs of each. To defeat them, select from each of your character’s spells and abilities, some of which can only be used once per quest, and have at it!
If one of your heroes die mid-level you have to soldier on (unless your knight can resurrect), and this greatly increases the difficulty going forward. Many a time I was left hanging on by the skin of my teeth and down to my last remaining character trying to complete a level, when out of nowhere a hidden trap takes me out. But, if you fail in your quest or you find that one or two of your characters have died, then there is a gravedigger in the town to resurrect you and send you on your merry way.
Each enemy has their own unique attack pattern and attributes, so figuring out the best strategy for dealing with a room full of enemies is critical. Early in my play through I made the mistake of blundering straight in, and soon found myself resurrected more times than the Halloween franchise!
The level difficulty progresses quite well, with the first few being the usual introductory affair, and then gradually ramping up appropriately. Within each level you find some potion pots, and these pots are exchanged in town to increase your abilities and spell levels. Hit a difficult level? No problem! Just grind a previous level a couple of times for these pots to improve your characters, then try again.
If one of your heroes die mid-level you have to soldier on regardless (unless your knight can resurrect), and this greatly increases the difficulty going forward. Many a time I was left hanging on by the skin of my teeth and down to my last remaining character trying to complete a level, when out of nowhere a hidden trap takes me out.
Presentation wise, the game looks nice. Not outstanding, but very pleasant to look at. Plenty of shades of brown and grey nicely offsetting the random golden treasure or whitened skeletons left here and there from previous adventurers. The only gripe from me is the animation in the way in which your characters walk. The game automatically sets their movement speed to fast, which looks quite comical when they are power walking here and there, but if you try and slow it down to normal speed it just takes too long to navigate. The isometric views really do pull you into a board game-like experience and add to the overall enjoyment.
Overall the soundtrack was nice throughout; dark melodic tones and sounds mixed with some electronic and organ elements that fitted the overall feel of the game quite nicely. However, there are moments where the tracks feature guitar solos reminiscent of 80’s Eric Clapton. You know, the self-serving ones which no one else was really interested in bar old Slowhand himself. I found myself being distracted at times by these and consequently pulled back from being immersed in the game world.
Overall, Dark Quest II was a very enjoyable affair and at times became quite addictive with its mechanics across its c.10 hours worth of gameplay. I have yet to max out all the characters so may venture back to do that to appease my completionist nature, but this is one adventure I can easily see myself revisiting in the future again and again.
Game: Dark Quest 2
Developer: Brain Seal Ltd
Switch Release date: 27/02/2019