When it comes to strategy games there is always one series that comes to everyone’s mind and that’s the Fire Emblem Franchise. And for good reason; however, many games have come along that takes that formula and put their own spin on it. Dark Deity is one such example. I recently had the chance to play this title from Freedom Games. So here is my Dark Deity review.
Now heads up there will be some spoilers for the story so read at your own risk.
In the land of Terrazael, there was a time when Gods walked among man. Bringing never-before-seen power and advanced technology. Until one day, a great disaster known as the calamity struck. Thousands of years later, only the temples to these gods and some of their treasures remain from this age of ascension.
Here we are introduced to the current conflict of this world; 10 years prior to the game the former King was assassinated by an unknown group. The new king of Delia blames the kingdom of Aramor and pledges revenge. So much to the point, his decree was instead of just taking the graduates from the Academy but all cadets. Forever changing the lives of a simple group of kids whose simple days would be long gone.
The story has a great start, and while it may be one that we have seen plenty of times. It is told in such a wonderful way, between the cutscenes between fights or the interactions of characters. It’s a tale of the loss of innocence, war, and the path of the greater good. As our cast of Irving, Garrick, Maren, & Alden join the Delian army.
While the stakes start small, helping to protect a city from bandit raids; it soon grows into a globe-trotting adventure. All to save the world as the relics of the past are being hunted for a dark and malicious purpose. As time goes on their ranks grow with adventurers and fighters from all around the world. From the Princesses of their enemy kingdom to a trained assassin, a champion of the arena who never lost, to a simple barmaid with the lust for adventure.
The amount of personality and the different backgrounds of each new member, adds not only more story, but versatility to your squad. And it is these moments and parts that truly help to drive the story of never-ending twists and turns.
Now the art style of Dark Deity takes a two-step approach. This is distinctive for two aspects, the first being the gameplay itself. And the second is the art of the Caricatures.
Dark Deity uses a Pixelated art style for its gameplay and cutscenes. And it does this with several styles of pixelation. Using 16-bit pixel sprites to show characters on the board as well as enemies; as well as 64-bit style sprites to show combat when attacking.
While seen as minimalistic, this approach works great for helping to utilize the maps for both cutscenes and for encounters. Now there are a few things that stick out. That each character has an identifying feature such as particular color or head features. And this transfers over to their class sprites when they are able to promote into a new role.
Now all sprites share the same body and features, except their head and those identifying features. This works wonderfully to great effect, helping to show that transition to new abilities while still recognizing each character, even if it can be seen as a copy and paste.
Nevertheless, the artwork is wonderful, mixed with an anime-style aesthetic for each character to use both in conversations and in cutscenes. It helps to bring that emotion and facial expressions that may be missed if everything was done only through text and sprites.
Now the sound of the game is a nice clean and simple one. Its OST has a wonderful backing track that has touching and whimsical music that encapsulates the setting of each battle. While also having a light-hearted tone while at the campsite.
Alongside having strong background music to help set the tone, you also have amazing combat sounds. This comes from the fact you have such a diverse set of weaponry and spells. As well as a large breadth of armor and even mounts. Each weapon sounds wonderful from the thrusting and slashing of spears to the powerful blows of hammers and maces. From thunderous lightning spells to raging fire spells, even the crackling of powerful magic.
Everything just sounds awesome, especially when you take into account the sound of armor, the actually clinking of chainmail and plate, and the galloping of horses. Each sound takes a certain level of care and impact that it all blends perfectly together.
Now, the tactical gameplay action is the shining light in the game, and there is a lot of it in Dark Deity. On top of the turn-based strategy combat, there are a lot of decisions to be made.
First off there are three difficulties to choose from Mortal, Hero, & Deity. Each pertaining to your Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulty settings. The primary difference between them all is the amount of gold and experience that players can earn in each encounter. As well as, at higher difficulties, increasing the scaling and abilities of enemies higher while decreasing the number of resources received. This makes choosing and prioritizing units all the more mandatory.
Dark Deity Bonds System
Now like all strategy games it comes down to having a balanced team of mixed classes and specialties for any and all situations. And in Dark Deity, this is no exception with having a base of 6 classes. There are the Warrior, Ranger, Rouge, Mage, Cleric, & Adepts. While standard to most RPGs, each class has two levels of promotion; one giving them a continuation of their previous profession and the rest allowing for further specialization.
Learning to mix these classes and their call abilities, with each character’s innate ability; and further mixed with the addition of the god’s aspects, helps players truly customize their team into a strategic setup that works for them. Alongside this, they use an advantage weapon system, with four different weapons for each class. Each weapon has a priority, one for power and damage, one for accuracy to hit, one for increased Critical chances, and lastly one for balance. This adds an even further depth for players to plan their attacks.
Now unlike games, such as XCOM or especially Fire Emblem, Dark Deity foregoes permadeath and casual mode. Instead opting to go with a system that is a permanent scarring system. Where instead of permanently dying, they instead take a permanent loss to a stat; so it helps to balance difficulty without punishing for one bad turn. However, if a unit is defeated too many times, it may become permanently unusable.
Dark Deity has much to offer for fans of the tactical RPG genre. While it may not do anything groundbreaking and redefining, it doesn’t need to. It takes what’s been established, and offers a unique new take. And it adds brand new systems and touches all its own, while still keeping the tried and true.
The game is fun and challenging without the punishing difficulty that can push new players away. Along with an enjoyable story and wonderful art, there is no reason to give it a shot. There is definitely enough here for all players.
You can get Dark Deity now as it is available currently on PC through Steam. And if you want to read more you can visit the game’s official site. Thank you to Freedom Games for providing a code and allowing me to do a Dark Deity review.
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