Based on the board game Hero Quest, Dark Quest 2 is a party-based isometric turn-based roguelite RPG. However, the gameplay is way easier to play than it sounds.
Starting as a stereotypical barbarian, the player will eventually unlock new characters each specializing in a unique class with a different skill set. The archer can attack from a distance but has lower health whereas the magician has many spell options, for example. Not truly turn based but not truly real-time action, this RPG is somewhere in the middle. If viewing a screenshot, it can be assumed this is a tactical RPG. Instead, the player can freely move around the isometric tiled environment using the d-pad or analog stick, confirming actions with the “A” button. When enemies are near, the player’s movement is limited and is allowed one action per turn. This repeats until all enemies are defeated in which the player is free to roam the environment at will. Spells or special abilities can also be cast but these unique moves are often limited to one per stage, not to be confused with one per battle. This creates some anxiety as you definitely will not want to blow your one shot.
Spread through most stages are blue jars. These collectables are then used as currency to unlock special abilities, including passive buffs or unique attacks, in the main town menu screen. Once all characters are unlocked, dozens of these blue jars will be needed to max the potential of each character. While I didn’t have the need to do this during my normal play through, the player is free to replay any previous stage to grind for more blue jars and money to grow stronger. Luckily, the game is mostly balanced so very little grinding is required. I only had to replay a few levels before reaching the end credits of this half dozen hour game.
My biggest complaint is actually the controller mapping of the isometric view point. Down, for example, doesn’t move the cursor down but rather laterally. Since there is no option to change the control from a 90 degree to 45 degree default, I fumbled a bit with the controls all game. Perhaps this was just me, or just the downfall of being ported from a mobile touch screen environment, but having the option to switch between the two could have made a huge difference. Also, the last few stages are a bit of a chore. Instead placing the player in an interesting stage, the game forces the player to muscle their way through a ridiculous gauntlet of enemies or a dastardly maze without the map featured deactivated. The final boss also fights a little unfair so the player will need to cheese the system a bit to reach the end.
Dark Quest 2 is a highly addicting and entertaining game that completely surprised me. Not really knowing what to expect before diving in, I had the lowest expectations. The 2D art, isometric perspective, and generic character roster makes it seem like this is another low budget piece of shovelware. Instead, I couldn’t put the game down until I finished it. Even though it mixes numerous genres together, it does so in a simplified way that anyone can put up and play but yet get lost in its addicting depth.
Also available on PS4, Switch, PC, and Mobile.
Better Than: you think, by a lot
Also Try: the Lord of the Rings games on GBA
Play It: on any system you have easily available