Whatever you might think of Blizzard today, they sure got it right back in ’96 when they released Diablo, a game which laid the foundations for every dungeon-crawling, action-RPG to follow. It’s a genre I’m a huge fan of; I can spend hours in a Zen-like state, killing monsters, collecting treasure, looking forward to that next level-up, cool piece of equipment, or new skill. I’ve played a great many different ones over the years and I never get sick of them.
So when I saw this new downloadable action-RPG on the PSN, claiming to have tons of quests, monsters, items, skills and four player co-op on top of it, I thought it would fit the bill nicely. But after giving it a decent amount of time, there are a few things I think other dungeon crawler fans should know before making the purchase.
There are only three character classes to choose from, and they’re about as basic as you’ll get: warrior, rogue and mage. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses which you probably know them already, so I won’t waste space explaining them. Each one also has a selection of skills they’ll be able to learn as they level up. Thankfully, you have the option to buy back all the skills points you’ve spent and reassign them, so you can experiment to find your favourite ones without having to create several characters. After you’ve created and named your character, you’re plonked in the world, told there is some looming evil you must thwart, and pretty-much left to it. You’ll meet characters who’ll give you quests that send you into dank dungeons, vast plains, crumbling ruins, spooky forests and icy caverns to name a few locations, fighting monsters and gathering treasure.
Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Well, yes, they got the basics right – unfortunately, that seems to be about where they stopped. What it really lacks is polish. Anyone with half a brain can figure out that a large part of the appeal in games like this is to be visually rewarded with cool armour pieces and funky-looking weapons and so on, but there just isn’t enough of that in DHA. You do get the occasional super-rare item that looks different to the rest, sure, but everything else is quite bland. One sword looks pretty much like another, and one piece of leather armour looks just like another – regardless of the quality difference between the two. And since the graphics aren’t actually that good anyway, a bit of visual variety would have been a great help.
You can play it with four friends, either online or on one machine, and you can use the PlayStation Move to control the action… you know, if you’re insane. This was probably meant to compete with Torchlight, but really, there’s it falls way short. Still, if you’re hard up for a dungeon game, this might do – but I can name several better-looking and better-playing dungeon crawlers on the PS2 you could try.