The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is a pain in the ass to keep typing, so I’ll just refer to it as DoN from now on. DoN is inspired by a European parody of Dungeons and Dragons, and as such features stereotypical role playing party members and tongue-and-cheek references to the craft. This parodical writing is wrapped around a strategy RPG core that doesn’t deviate too far from its genre trappings, but has just enough depth to engage players. DoN has a simple formula of story bits, move to a main quest marker on the minimap, then SURPRISE! encounter! The actual circumstances are very reminiscent of a Dungeon Master winging it and trolling his players a bit, which does play into the whimsy and fantasy aspects well.
The characters are fully voice acted, although I’d say it’s about a sixty forty whether or not you’ll tolerate it. Funny enough, the developers preemptively included a silence Elf and silence Dwarf option as if to say, “We KNOW they’re annoying as all hell”. Personally, Elf is just a mostly harmless dumb blonde, and Dwarf is just a drunken walking stereotype with an admittedly decent voice to match. I found the leader of the group to be pretty charming, and it’s fun to see the other classes join your party and add to your repertoire of abilities. So speaking of character customization, there are standard character specific equipment to collect, a variety of consumables to equip into your utility slots, which can vary depending on if you can use a belt and whatnot, which switched things up for me, and a skill tree. Whenever you level up, you get stat points you can dump into your character statistics, a skill point for an active ability, and a skill point for a passive ability tree. Most of the passive abilities involve stat boosts based on your proximity to other characters, which rewards proper positioning and specific party combinations as you unlock new characters to swap in. The active abilities all had their uses, but I wouldn’t say every tree felt equally viable.
Combat in the game is relatively standard of the XCOM style of gameplay. You have a standard move and the ability to forego your action to sprint further. You can delay your turn first passing it until after another character to line up sequencing and combos. There is incentive to box in your characters to block out your opponent’s because moving outside a character’s zone of influence will incur an attack of opportunity, AKA free damage. Although this option, along with the overwatch, was a bit finicky in combination with orienting your character to a specific angle a la Final Fantasy Tactics. I honestly really disliked this aspect of the game because of the lack of leniency with an undo option, the mechanic tended to just bog down my play and befuddle my tactics. The one positive is using the orientation alongside allies to set up flanks, “supporting fire” bonuses, and backstabs. An interesting twist is the addition of critical failure and more random effects. There’s a meter that builds up if RNG is not favorable towards you, which allows you to leverage things like critical hits against you or missed attacks into full party heals or extra actions per turn. Otherwise, the game tends to be insultingly easy or stupidly cheap depending on how well you can adapt to whatever board-state the game throws at you. More often than not, you will have to suffer through trial and error at certain difficulty spike levels.
All in all, I’m torn on how I’d review DoN. I think it barely misses the mark for me. I can definitely recommend it and not feel too bad, but I just don’t think it’s without its red flags. It really depends on whether or not the silly atmosphere and humor gels with you. Gameplay itself is more frustrating than not, but there can be some fun with the skill trees, looting, and dungeon exploration. I’d wait for a price cut if anything.
A copy of the game was provided by the developer.
Hellfirebam has begrudgingly not awarded Dungeon of Naheulbeuk the Indie Seal of Approval. Check it out if you think you can afford it. I wouldn’t pick it over another game if your budget is tight.