Who it’s not for: Anyone looking for a deep RPG in the style of Diablo.
Dungeon Hunter is a game that I really wanted to love. It has a few things really going for it. Better than average graphics, tons of items with varying properties to wear and/or wield, and a fairly responsive “left analog stick” control.
I downloaded the game because it is billed as a “3D epic quest set in a dark fantasy world, in the tradition of the most successful action RPGs.” The ITunes Store description goes on to describe an enormous world where you will complete different types of quests and missions.
There’s nothing technically wrong with the description, but it’s hard to really classify this game as an action RPG. There are definitely elements that are RPG-like (you can choose one of three characters to play through the game, utilizing brute strength, stealth, or magic; you can allocate how you utilize your experience points as you level up), but the game is far too linear, both in map design and mission choice, to really be considered an RPG with an “enormous world” to explore.
The game has other problems too. The combat system itself is simplified to a point of taking vital control out of the player’s hands. Targeting is accomplished by tapping on the enemy you’d like to attack. When this is done, your character immediately heads for, and starts attacking that character. When there are several enemies on the screen attacking you at once, your character will divvy his attacks up amongst the enemies rather than sticking to your targeted enemy. This is a major problem as it makes it difficult to pick off enemies one at a time, thinning out the group.
With the exception of that combat annoyance, which was responsible for almost all of my deaths, the game wasn’t particularly hard. Loot flows like water from every dead enemy, discovered chest, or broken barrel. There’s so much loot that the game includes a “transmute” feature, letting you turn any item in your inventory into gold right on the spot. In fact, you end up using this feature so much to manage your limited inventory, that the options include the ability to “auto-transmute” all items under a pre-determined level.
Because there are so many items, the game also includes an “auto-equip” option to automatically deck your character out in the best items you own. With few exceptions, this took all of the effort out of managing your character’s load-out (a staple of RPG strategy), and at the same time, made me care a lot less about the loot. One other note on items, with the exception of one or two items I came across, there are no “special” items in the game, further limiting the intrigue in hunting for goodies. There are shops, but they almost never have items as powerful as what you picked off your targets.
As for the quests, I said before, the game is highly linear. There is a map, but by the time you’ve unlocked most of it, it’s a line with a few branches for individual quests in specific areas. This linearity doesn’t stop at the world map either. The levels themselves are extremely linear. For the most part, while there are sometimes a few paths to venture down, the paths that don’t lead you to the end of the level will dead-end quickly, typically with a treasure chest for your trouble. Because there’s no level map whatsoever, I can’t really be too offended, as making the levels any more complicated would have simply resulted in getting hopelessly lost. Still, I would have enjoyed a dungeon map system, letting me track my exploration, and more detailed levels to explore.
I understand why Gameloft made the decisions they made. The result is an RPG “style” game that is very easy for someone to pick up and play without putting too much thought into it. I can easily summarize my frustration with this game. It has a great graphics engine for this type of game; it has a detailed stats system governing hits, dodges, magic, strength, critical chances, etc… and a deep enough item system allowing for items to be randomly generated with properties that will impact that system, and a big enough world that could have had a lot to explore. None of that was put to good use. If Gameloft took this engine, added a basic dungeon mapping system, built some complicated dungeon maps with lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and made loot matter (fewer, but more unique items), this could have been a great game. As it stands, it’s a simple hack’n’slash, with passable controls and a 2-dimensional story that exactly lives up to its generic name.
A lot of people like this game. It’s gotten some terrific reviews, but it just seems like so much wasted potential.