Hey, got time to try another Diablo clone? Did I hear a groan or two? Probably. The Diablo-genre has been imitated dozens of times so far, and, except for Titan Quest’s cool class system, few have added anything particularly memorable, just copying the same ideas and throwing a few things that Blizzard probably considered, but threw out rather than include in their own games.
No more. Depths Of Peril is the first “Diablo clone” I’ve seen that takes the design and adds so much to it that future designers may be taking ideas from Depths, rather than Diablo.
Class selection is limited – just four classes, covering each of the main archetypes of fighter/rogue/priest/wizard, but each archetype has around two dozen or so skills that define it, along with a dozen or more other skills that overlap with the other classes, such as bonuses received for high level, or ability scored, or basic armor and weapon use. Rather than use a skill tree, a player gets skill points, with skills costing various amounts of points, allowing him to develop his character as he see fits. No skills seem particularly dominating, although a few might not be as useful as others. There’s no danger of messing up your character; you can, for example, turn your sword-wielding warrior into an axe specialist with but a few clicks, provided you can spare the money. It may be a bit lean, but the system gets the job done, and at every level I felt like I had several reasonable choices for what to do with my character.
Questing here is semi-random. There is a plethora of constantly generated random quests, and, unlike most games, the player can often be motivated to do these quests. For example, the steward (a quest giver) might get petrified. He’ll stay turned to stone, cutting off a supply of quests, unless the player decides to do the appropriate quest. Other quests, such as plagues and town attacks, will impress a jaded player with just how many questing possibilities other games have overlooked. Many quests are timed, as well, forcing a player to sometimes stop his current quest and, say, go off to find a cure for a poisoned non-player character (NPC) before time runs out. Yes, the NPC will get resurrected eventually, but each NPC serves a purpose in the game, so a player will often feel the loss while waiting. There’s also a main storyline of quests (along with dozens of in-game books giving background), taking the character up to level 25 or so.
A player doesn’t adventure alone; he’s part of a covenant, a.k.a. household. The main goal of Depths is to become the top/only covenant in the city, among the four or so other covenants. You can recruit NPCs into your covenant (or get them via quests) and even take one along with you as you adventure. Again, unlike other games, the NPCs here are quite useful, fighting effectively and automatically resurrecting themselves after death, making them easy to have around. You’re generally in competition with the other covenants to do quests, and there will be times when you’ll lose out to another household.
|"...unlike other games, the NPCs here are quite useful..."|
Loot and treasure are done well; there a half dozen distinct types of loot, using every idea in other games (e.g., rare, relic, unique, and set items), and your character can carry an extra load of magical gewgaws, with fifteen slots for equipment. You also get a covenant and personal stash: no inventory problems here, at all. There’s plenty of room to keep every item you think you might use someday.
I could go on to list all the features, but they’re so extensive that suffice to say, there’s a lot to like here – a ridiculous lot to like.
However, there are some warts, too. The graphics are average. There’s nothing in the game that will make a player go, “Wow.” The balancing is off, at times. Even at low levels, it’s easy to be assigned quests that are extraordinarily difficult – a player has considerable control over setting the game’s difficulty level, but “average” can be very tough, and even a covenant that supposedly is only half as strong as yours can slap your household silly in a raid if you’re not careful. The game crashes a bit too often; it autosaves at every town trip, so you never lose much, but it’s still an annoyance. There is no multiplayer, although there are options to show off your character to other players.
Even with such issues, this is a game that you may find yourself playing this far more than many titles that cost twice as much, or from big name developers. Any fan of the genre will be surprised at just how much Depths of Peril has to offer.
+ Awesome quest Possibilities
+ Rival adventurers
– Average graphics
– Poor balancing