Despite its umm… catchy title I'd never heard of it, but The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos - Chicken Edition (I'll just refer to as DoN from now on) is a surprisingly deep tactical turn-based RPG, with a sense of humour and high production values that distinguishes it from most other games of its ilk.
Right from the off there's a lot of dialogue but if you don't want to listen to it you can skip a sentence with 'A' and the entire conversation with 'B'. Most of it is fluff although there are some amusing lines and a fair bit of backstory to be gleaned, but there's also a truckload of waffle and groanworthy in-jokes. DoH's lighthearted approach and irreverent sense of humour reminded me of a certain series of movies about a big green ogre, and I don't think it's a coincidence that our friendly ogre looks like a close relative of Shrek's.
Unlike many RPGs as you move around, your party is always present and visible. Your ragtag gang includes a Ranger (the default leader), a dumb Barbarian, a tame Ogre, a Wizardess, a cute but annoying blonde Elf, a sneaky Thief (who suffers an identity crisis later on), and a boisterous Scottish Dwarf. You switch between characters with the ‘L’ and ‘R’ triggers. The usual precision, protection, magic, dodge, critical chance/damage etc. stats affect the power of your attacks, and can be enhanced as you progress with better weapons and choosing your preferences on each character's skill tree.
Combat is of course turn-based, during every fight you get opportunities to attack, heal or move your characters. Tactical and careful positioning is key, and every successful fight rewards you with XP (Experience Points.) If a character gets knocked unconscious they'll suffer a small XP penalty. If you're new to RPGs initially the amount of tactics, attributes, buffs etc might seem daunting but it's simple enough stuff with hidden depths for more experienced players. You can heal the entire party after every fight and even "redo" a fight if you messed up, or just want to try a different tactic. You can adjust the difficulty on the fly and, if turned on, the tutorials will teach you everything you need to know-and then some.
Personally I found the game's default difficulty a bit too hard to be fun, but refer to the in-game tips and encyclopaedia, play long enough and each character can collect better weapons and gear, and each character has a set of Epic equipment, which makes even the toughest fights doable. My real problem is that I'm not a big fan of turn-based combat, and DoN's is particularly stilted.
Another big problem is the game's mostly unnecessary complexity, there are simply too many menus and options for a game of this lighthearted ilk. Combined with a clunky interface, this makes the game slow to play–bordering on the painful. It's a real shame as the storyline, voice acting, characters and humour are all really good.
Anyhow, the actual purpose of this review is the latest DLC, Back to the Futon. Once again, our party of unlikely heroes are in trouble, arrested by the Dungeon's Fund, they are given an offer they can't refuse by the mysterious Doctor Oswald and forced to accomplish a dangerous mission to earn their freedom. This of course involves returning to the dreaded Dungeon of Naheulbeuk, where you're headed for a showdown with the nefarious and drowsy cult of Dlul, the God of Sleep, in order to prevent the world from being stuck in an Eternal Nap. Worst of all, if you don't succeed, you could lose all your XP and loot! This DLC comprises 4 brand new story chapters, which is half as much as the original game, and includes new legendary items, skills and new characters. Your party can also now level up to 16.
Okay so for a start, I believe I'm correct in saying that there's 16 minutes or more of dialogue before even a hint of action! Yikes! More adventures with this gang will be welcome to Naheulbeuk fans but I'm afraid I'm not among them as it's really just more of the same; sometimes amusing but overlong dialogue interspersed with tedious, excessively-tactical and fiddly gameplay. Okay so maybe I'm an impatient simpleton, but DoN simply should play more like it looks, this would mean being simpler and more immediate to play, and more fun too.