Saturday, May 4

Review: Darkest Hunters [Nintendo Switch eShop]



In the world of more casual games one of the subgenres I’ve enjoyed quite a bit over the years has been the puzzle RPG. Typically when I think about that I’m envisioning the classic Puzzle Quest back on the Nintendo DS but there have been other variations on that same theme, blending elements like a Match-3 with some progression and additional interest. While at first glance Darkest Hunters falls right in line with that concept, and to an extent it does, it also blazes a path of its own, but to mixed results.


This touchscreen-only title (which explains why it has no gameplay video) will have you moving from dungeon to dungeon in search of gold, some good loot, and monsters to slay. After choosing from one of several classes that helps to determine your abilities to a limited extent you’ll be off and running. While it may look like it could be a Match-3, instead you’ll move around and clear the board by chaining together matching icons that correspond to things like your health, attack, mana, and gold. If you’re able to get a long enough chain that will imbue the last space you moved from with a special attack elemental attack tied to that icon’s color (fire for red, etc). Understanding these mechanics you’ll have the base skills you then need to succeed.


While there are times when being careless will trigger multiple monsters chasing and attacking you for the most part if you’re able to think strategically things will go smoothly for you. Set up large chains, manage your health, either lure monsters into hitting your imbued spots or trigger them yourself when they’re in the path of the attack they set off, and you’ll generally do well. Boss fights amp things up a bit periodically but a methodical approach and a little bit of luck will go a long way to helping dispatch those as well.


Keeping in mind the more casual approach the game seems to have an issue is still that it tends to be a bit on the bland side. The need to often repeat dungeons in order to complete all objectives tied to them so you can gain stars which you’ll need to progress to new dungeons is a particular problem. It’s a double-edged sword since these objectives tend to help add new twists and challenges to things but some of them are also pretty mundane and if you want to move on you need to check them off the list which sometimes can get tedious. I’d also note that while the different classes conceptually are cool there’s simply not that significant a differentiation with playing different ones that help them feel fully realized.


Darkest Hunters has something to offer if you’re seeking a puzzle game that plays a bit differently than the pack. While it isn’t necessarily full of thrills it does offer a pleasantly passive challenge that you can enjoy on the go or while relaxing on the couch while watching TV. I wish there was a little more flair and ambition to it but given the fact that there’s not much else to scratch a comparable itch on the system it does have something to offer casual puzzling fans seeking a change of pace.

Score: 6.5

Pros:

  • Offers up some decent puzzle RPG action
  • Objectives in each dungeon help to keep changing up what you’re doing and even how
  • Some cool periodic boss fights help add interest


Cons:

  • Overall it’s a pretty vanilla experience and needing to repeat dungeons to complete all objectives can be tedious
  • Though there are different classes to choose from the differentiation in play between them is pretty limited overall
  • Touchscreen only, must be played in handheld mode