A tale as old as time itself. A tale of adventure, loot, intrepid (mostly) party members, and the mediocrity of poor business administration and legislating of company internal affairs.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is adapted from a French audio series, something I believe P.Y. could tell you a bit more about (Editor’s Note: Loved listening to this series while on the bus between college and work), but can easily be seen as a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. Or perhaps maybe even just a wacky campaign from a particular session. In DoN you take the role of guiding hand for a party of ragtag adventures, tasked with finding the twelfth… seventh?…thirteenth?…well, a statuette that definitely isn’t the first, that is supposedly in the bottom of the Dungeon of Naheulbeuk, a place rarely visited where no adventurers have returned from! Except it’s actually run by a co-op, and is apparently a fairly popular, or at least populated, place.
It even has an inn built-inn! (#SorryNotSorry).
Either way, your team consists of a number of different and fairly clear cut roles that you commonly see in D&D campaigns, such as: the cowardly thief, the egotistical ranger, the ditzy archer elf, and a dwarf (just a dwarf). Somewhat ironically, I’m actually playing a D&D campaign with some friends right now that matches the characters in DoN pretty close. Yes, it’s full of shenanigans and jokes, both DoN and my campaign.
As is usual in these style of things, your group of eclectic adventurers travel through the dungeon in search of the statuette in order to complete their quest! Obviously enough this is met with resistance that you must get rid of. This is done in combat that is very much similar to how a D&D encounter would play out, with a few notable exceptions. Upon engaging in combat, you may orient your party members as you desire in the space provided before beginning combat.
The combat itself is turn based on a movement grid, where characters with higher bravery values get to perform their actions first. Each character has two basic actions they can perform per turn: movement and “action”. These can be performed in any order, but you are generally only allowed one of each, or two movements that count as dashing, and will use up your “action”. Your action may be a melee attack, ranged attack, skill, or item use. Now, the two most notable differences to playing something like tabletop D&D are the introduction of what I like to call “the bullshit bar” and the ability to delay your turn.
The turn delay is exactly what you would expect: you push your characters turn to the end of the turn bar. This is actually way more useful than I thought it would be, as you can wait for enemies to take their turns before moving into a better position to attack them from. The “bullshit bar”, on the other hand, feels like it was made specifically for people with awful luck, like me. Basically, whenever something unlucky happens, such as missing an attack or getting hit by a critical strike, the gauge will start to fill up. It has four tiers based on how much “un-luck” you may have, and remains after battle. Each tier provides a different effect when used, allowing you to maybe salvage a fight where you’ve missed an enemy thirteen times in a row. Yes that actually happened, and no, I wasn’t happy about it.
So, on that note let’s talk about something here: game is hard. Like seriously, I almost had a full party wipe in the tutorial. On the plus side, the game autosaves a lot, so chances are you have a save you can fall back on if things get too hairy. After scrabbling through an encounter, you are rewarded with cash, experience, and loot! Glorious loot with some great flavour text.
Characters can be equipped with new gear to help increase their stats, and potions can be used, as health doesn’t recovery between battles. Upon leveling up, characters will gain stat points and skill points, which can be used to increase their bases status, such as constitution and charisma, and to unlock new skills respectively. This is very much in the same vein as Dungeons and Dragons, so those familiar will probably feel right at home. One nice difference from traditional D&D is that skills and magic use mana or stamina points, which recovery at a set rate each turn, meaning no “once per day” spells or actions.
The game itself is modeled in a more comicalized style, which is really representative of the games humour. While the main focus of Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is on its weird cast of characters and the misadventures they get into, the developers definitely didn’t skimp on the graphical side of things. Environments aren’t exactly “sprawling”, but are well put together and rendered quite nicely, giving a nice sense of the area you are in, instead of just the same generic tone. One particular example is walking into a dirty bathroom, and you get a very visibly different style inside the bathroom as opposed to the rest of the dungeon, something you don’t usually see all that often.
Ultimately whether or not you will enjoy Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is probably directly related to how you find the humour. While I quite enjoyed it on a standard basis, there are a few gags or jokes that definitely fell flat for me, and would no doubt fall flat for others as well. That being said, the combat is incredibly well done, and at no point did I think an encounter was particularly unfair, or that the combat mechanics were awful. Tough yes, but not unfair.