PAX Online Preview: Darksburg
It took quite some time for me to see the appeal in roguelite games but it eventually went from being a dirty word to being the biggest draw for my attention. When I heard that French developer Shiro Games (makers of Evoland) had created not only a roguelite, but a Diablo inspired co-op roguelite, I knew I had to take a look. From the opening moments of the trailer, Darksburg immediately had me hooked and after talking with developers I am more than excited to dive into this zombie-plagued town.
The premise is simple: the sweet little town of Darksburg has been overrun by the undead and those who have survived are fighting for their homes – and their lives – in epic roguelite fashion. Darksburg comes with five characters to choose from: Sister Abigail, the nun who isn’t afraid to smite the enemy with holy fires, Runolf the lovable innkeeper with his giant spoon, Rose the bounty hunter with her pet chipmunk, Twig, and Varag the werewolf who happened to break out of his cell. And the fifth playable character? Dr. Dolorosa, the mysterious plague doctor reminiscent of a medieval Medic from TF2.
So why should you be excited about Darksburg? Because after only a few minutes of the game it is easy to see the true labor of love that has gone into its production. These characters will interact with one another with special exclusive dialogue depending on their relationship. Rose was the one who captured and locked up Varag, so they will bicker and insult one another while fending off against the horde. Abigail and Runolf are friends and will support each other. The procedurally generated levels are absolutely massive and encourage exploration not only to get valuable curios and level up to upgrade your perks, but encounter entirely random challenges and discover the characters backstory and history through exploring every nook and cranny. Despite being built with an archetype in mind, the perks and curios you discover can help refine each character to your playstyle, be it tank, DPS, or healer.
As mentioned, Darksburg is a co-op game, allowing up to four players to team up and save the town. If you don’t feel like playing with others but want that bantering goodness and combo attacks, you can fill in those slots with AI. Working together to defeat the hordes will increase your team experience level to enhance your devastating skills, and you’ll need it because of the great work Shiro Games did on making unique and challenging enemy encounters. These aren’t just a handful of shambling zombies, these are dozens upon dozens of undead trying to devour you, some with incredibly unique and unexpected abilities. You’ll need to communicate and employ serious tactics to take on some of the bosses and mini-bosses and that is just one of the reasons Darksburg is such a captivating experience: you never know what to expect at any given moment.
She’s a Beauty
Stellar gameplay aside, it really is just beautiful to look at. It maintains that doom-and-gloom of being an undead infested town without being incredibly dark. The characters are memorable and intentionally fill a bit of a fantasy-cliche role that still somehow makes them brim with personality. I’m also a fan of how the game handles the line of sight/fog of war system. What you can see is illuminated, but done in a natural and smooth-flowing method, as if you are prowling the streets at night and can only see what a lantern shows you. It adds to the depth of the level, and whats more, there are five districts to explore and survive through.
Darksburg is more than just a roguelite. It’s a hybrid adventure tale. Shiro Games has clearly poured their heart and soul into making this memorable experience with plans to add new characters and content as the game keeps going. They listened to their fans in early access and created a wildly enjoyable experience, even including a Legacy option in the menu to try out alternate game modes like Survival and – what is sure to become a hit – 4v4 PvP of Survivors vs Revenants. Roguelites can get stale without having strong footing to stand on, and Darksburg is poised to stand tall not only for its beautiful aesthetic and fast paced combat, but its lovable cast of misfits and weirdos.
Darksburg is set for release on PC on September 23. For more information, check out the game’s official website, and keep it locked on COGconnected for more from PAX Online.