Having just launched onto Steam through Early Access, ShiroGames’ DarksBurg is a top-down team based four player coop / versus that sees a group of adventurer’s needing to band together in order to survive the undead hordes chasing after them. With several levels already available and four different characters to fight the hordes with, there’s already plenty of gameplay available either on your own with three other players or AI controlled substitutes if players aren’t available.
Now upfront, while Darksburg is a lot of fun to play, and while it doesn’t introduce anything new per say, it doesn’t need to. Blending elements from both the four player first person shooter survivors like Left 4 Dead and Warhammer Vermintide and the top down controls and abilities of a MOBAs like DotA and League of Legends, Darksburg is something new in this regard it handles very, very well.
Starting up for the first time you’ll have your choice of characters, as long as others haven’t already locked in, which each have three normal abilities and a fourth ultimate one that takes a good deal of time in order to charge up to be used. Possible character choices are ranged, healer, tank and something somewhere in the middle as your cleric wields a giant crucifix as she basically nails her enemies into the ground. Once you’ve chosen your character and are ready to go, that character will earn experience in order to level up in your account as experience is only granted at the end of a stage regardless of if you’ve succeeded or failed at the objectives.
As you level up your characters, there are benchmarks in which you unlock perks and slots in order to give yourself a bigger edge within each mission. Perks range from anything like gaining temporary health by biting enemies as the Wolfman Varag, or have increased damage and speed if you’re injured because your health has dropped too low. While I would personally say that sticking with one character is a good idea, I know that it isn’t always possible so you should always have a back up!
Now before actually going into a session, you have several choices. The first is pure survival where you and three others go through stages with a list of objectives that you need to complete in order to survive. The second is about the same thing, but, another four players can join up in order to control the special characters from the undead horde against the four heroes. Finally, you can choose whether the game is open to the public, open to your friends, or by invite only.
Once you’ve jumped into the gameplay, you and three others have to charge through the hordes on the way to the exit. Normal enemies while not overly powerful can still get in the way and give you enough of a hard time once a horde charges in. Standard zombies will only claw at you but it won’t take long before spearmen, suicide bombers and special units come into your path. Exploding units if you can maneuver them well enough can only be an advantage for you but the special units? Those you’ll want to take out and fast as they can do some serious damage.
As heroes, other than making it to the end your goal, the in between goals are often simple enough in premise but a bit harder to complete in actuality. The main reason is that often your goals will require you to pick something up and slowly move it to where it needs to be. While you’re carrying a cannon ball or a bale of hay you are to the mercy of the undead and the availability of your teammates. Not exactly being the easiest, AI controlled characters don’t make it easy as they’ll either be following you, or another player character and only ever hitting the closest monsters. Sadly, they don’t get their hands dirty so you’ll at least want one or two actual extra sets of hands.
Finally in terms of neat features, you can buy items, buffs, or possible end level bonuses at the beginning of every stage. Well, you can after your very first run because you’ll need some gold for it. Items range from healing salves and bandages over to a bag of bombs, while buffs can increase your movement speed or make it impossible to be slowed down by running through mud for example. Finally in the level buffs, you’ll need to get a hold of candy which can only as far as my brother and I could see by capturing a chicken if you can see it. Capture the chicken, get candy when the level finishes but only anyone who’s touched the chicken can get candy. Don’t touch it, you’re out of luck and then you don’t get to buy level bonuses like 50% extra gold at the end of a stage as long as you make it there. It doesn’t count if you and your team fail.