Dark Quest 2 – PC Review

Genre: Indie, RPG, Strategy, Early Access
Developer: Brain Seal Ltd
Publisher: Brain Seal Ltd
Release Date: Nov 8, 2016
Edited by KnightAvenger

I first encountered Brain Seal back in 2013 when they released the predecessor to this game: Dark Quest. It was a mobile version of the classic board game Hero Quest. Being an avid Hero Quest fan, I quickly got my copy and went adventuring, just as I used to when my friends and I would play the real board game. Sadly, there was a big difference between enjoying a board game like Hero Quest with my friends and solo playing Dark Quest on my phone or tablet. Once you remove the social dimension from a board game like Hero Quest, a lot of the fun dissipates, and that is just what happened since Dark Quest was a pretty straight-forward conversion. The nostalgia quickly eroded and the game had to keep me interested on its own merits, and without the whole “board-game Friday night with friends” magic dimension, it soon became very repetitive and lackluster. It felt like an opportunity to add something more or evolve the game was overlooked.

For those who don’t know Hero Quest, it is/was a D&D inspired board game where you would move your character around on a dungeon map and fight monsters you encounter, using d6, and modify the roll, using equipment you gathered. The game mechanics were exceedingly simple and this was a deciding factor in the game’s popularity. The same is true with the PC version; you have items and spells that deal damage to 1, 2 or a room full of enemies. Other than that, it’s a basic dice roll.

The new addition, Dark Quest 2, is most definitely a more polished game. Characters are now animated isometric 2.5-D figures instead of flat markers, the maps nicely drawn and well-designed. Where the first version of Dark Quest stayed so close to the original board game mechanics, it stifled the enjoyment of playing the game on a new platform. Dark Quest 2 manages to add a few key elements that will help keep players and especially fans of Hero Quest captivated.

When I initially tried the game, it quickly became clear that scoring this game, before more testing and rebalancing happened, would be doing both the game and developer a huge disfavor, and, true enough, most of my early misgivings were addressed in early access, as the game developed from a sometimes insanely frustrating experience to a genuinely enjoyable one.

The gameplay is still very inspired by the aforementioned board game Hero Quest, but the developers have added enough to elevate this game beyond being a simple conversion and into an enjoyable PC board game in its own right. There is a game hub where you can unlock more character classes and magic items, armor, weapons, fill up on potions, unlock equipment and classes, heal and/or resurrect your adventurers, rest up, and enjoy getting a random bonus from your visit to the town brothel?!

It is only a backdrop made to obfuscate the fact that this is not so much a story as a series of separate scenarios loosely bound together by the end goal (to get the evil wizard), but the hub adds a fun little twist to the game. The visuals are both well drawn and true to the balance of fantasy and humor that the original board game was famous for.

As soon as you leave the village UI, you are transported back in time and into your childhood Hero Quest board game where the characters not only have come alive but have been joined by several interesting new friends with a variety of special abilities. On the monster side, it is the same story; there are plenty of new and exciting monsters and creatures to slaughter as you make you way towards the Evil Wizard’s castle. The new isometric 2.5-D maps look great and the only fly in the ointment is when an exit gets a little too hidden by the surrounding walls, but that is rare.

The gameplay is exactly what the original board game was; you move around the board and fight a multitude of creatures using dice throw items and spells/abilities. The combat is enjoyable but very simple, just like the original board game. There is a good number of Orcs, Goblins, Undead, traps, secret doors, etc. Enough to keep the players occupied in their adventures.

The audio side, while nothing spectacular, underscores the mood of the setting as you traverse the goblin dungeons and start working your way into the Evil Wizard’s keep, picking up artifacts and equipment as you go to help you in your final battle.

The level/campaign editor is another selling point; it is both very user-friendly and intuitive, it takes little time to master the editor, and, in no time, you could be doing your own campaigns for others to enjoy. Users can then upload and share their own scenarios through the Steam workshop with a few clicks for fellow enthusiast to enjoy.

Dark Quest 2 is an enjoyable and successful game and easily worth the $7.99 (USD) price tag it carries at the moment on Steam, regardless if you’re a Hero Quest fan or not. If you are, it is a no brainer-go grab it, post haste. The game stays true to the original board game that inspired it, yet is still a well-rounded gaming experience for people who have not played Hero Quest. Brain Seal made sure to add decent online co-op so you still can enjoy playing with friends, and, when combined with modern day chat clients, you get as close to playing a board game with your friends as you can on a PC.

Pros:

  • Very nice graphics
  • True to original board game
  • Great scenario builder
  • Humor
  • Online co-op
  • Low price tag

Cons:

  • On rare occasions, an exit is a little too hidden

Adarkchylde gives Dark Quest 2 a Drastik Measure 8.75 out of 10 (87.5)

This is a near perfect conversion of the classic Hero Quest board game to PC; it is a no-nonsense straight up homage to a classic board game where the developers have added extra content to the game while staying true to the core of the experience. One of the better efforts to bring classic board games to PC.