The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk – The Amulet of Chaos originally released almost a year ago and gave players a chance to visit the Naheulbeuk universe by dumping them in a group of ragtag adventurers who have been thrown into the depths of a multi-storey dungeon. More recently, they just released their first DLC for the game – The Ruins of Limis – but as I’m still just playing the main game, this review will predominantly focus on that.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is a tactical RPG game that uses classes and characters that anyone familiar with dungeons and dragons would be familiar with. You have a ranger, a barbarian and an archer, amongst other classes, each of which come with unique abilities and appearances. You don’t necessarily get to choose who you play as or what they look like, but you can lead the group with whichever one of the party you want. It has little bearing on the game as the whole party is always on view and cutscenes will include everyone chatting. However, this is not a bad thing, because the characters are all interesting and fun, fully voiced and there is plenty of banter amongst the adventurous crew which I enjoyed immeasurably. It felt as though I was at a table top, playing with people who were all friends having fun, and that’s something games very rarely get right.
Tactical battles always have that potential of getting a bit samey, and a win-strategy can be defined fairly early on which can push you towards only using one tactic in a battle, but that’s not the case in Naheulbeuk. Every character in it has their own attacks and abilities, with the chance to add more as you level them up and none of them really overlap in any way. You’ll always have a choice between going all out and smashing someone’s face in with a melee attack, or being a bit more subtle, staying back and using a bow and arrow, or maybe even a grenade. There are a handful of jokey items as well, including a deployable chicken, that attacks anyone it comes near which can really be funny. You also have to be considerate of your enemies, because at no point in the game can you describe them as pushovers. They’re all really well designed with a very good difficulty curve that prevents you from ever feeling out of depth but also maintaining a strong level of difficulty. Oftentimes you’ll probably feel overwhelmed as you could be up against a dozen or more enemies, all of which also have unique abilities and could cast spells on you, inflict you with status effects or just be a strong attacker and you have to try to play to your strengths and eliminate them the best you can.
Cartoony graphics aren’t always my thing, but Naheulbeuk really hits the nail on the head with what they provide. All the characters – playable and non-playable alike – have a great look and feel to them, and lots of care and attention have been put in to making them both interesting to look at and memorable. They all fit to their amusing stereotypes too, with the barbarian being a rugged hunk of a man and dressing as such, and the dwarf being a baldy, beardy ball of fun. The environments too are all extremely well crafted, and every floor of the dungeon is distinct from the previous one and full of hidden secrets and treasures to find. There are a bunch of little things that are dotted around maps, such as traps and bookcases that make traversing every floor in its entirety both a nervewracking one as well as a rewarding one.
There are so many things hidden away in the game that you may not give a second thought to, but upon taking a bit of a closer look, you’ll find that there is humour to be found in every part of the game. The conversations between the group are already really funny, but there’s even more humour to be found in books and item descriptions. Each item has a solid quip written underneath it, and all the books are either informative about the lore with a slight funny slant, or are just outright hilarious. It really fleshes the universe out as you’ll get a much greater feel for the world and I was much more immersed in it as a result of getting a good description with everything in the game.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk, but there were a few things that could have been done better. They’re only minor things, and genuinely didn’t impact my enjoyment of the game as a whole, but at times it did take me out of the immersion the game offers. Firstly, I found myself fairly rubbish at the battling in the game to begin with, so I’d end up needing to buy a lot of bandages and potions from the vendors around the dungeon-building thing. The issue with this is that in order to buy multiple items you need to click the “+” icon a lot. There’s no functionality to type in the amount you want to buy, so if you want to buy twenty or more, you’ll quickly wear out your mouse. Especially if you need to keep buying potions in the quantities I needed to!
I’d also say that although the voice acting is largely solid, I did feel like the conversations lasted a while. There were times where I would start a conversation, have to nip away from my desk for a second and come back a few minutes later and they were still chatting away, with everyone trying to talk over eachother in their overly-exaggerated accents. For the most part, this isn’t too bothersome, although there wasn’t a pause function for the chat. I’d hit escape numerous times only to be completely ignored by the game, and so I missed out on some story, lore and potentially funny jokes. There are plenty of times where I just needed to nip away from my desk, to get food, drink or whatever else, and not being able to pause at these cutscenes did irk me.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is probably the hardest game I’ve ever had to spell repeatedly, but it’s also one of the best I’ve played this year. It’s great fun, with only very minor problems that won’t impact gameplay too much and lots of places to explore and enjoy. You’ll not feel quite complete until you’ve seen all the dungeon has to offer, including all the bosses and the DLC, I’m sure, will only add to this experience.