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Darksburg Indie Video Game Preview

Releasing their first game back in 2013 Shiro Games has released a number of games over the years. Their first game was Evoland which was a game where you played through various generations of video games. This was followed up by Evoland 2 which further developed the idea. A few years later came Northgard which took the RTS and city builder genres in an interesting direction. I have played all three games and enjoyed all of them quite a bit. What I like about Shiro Games is that they tend to make interesting games that try to do something new instead of just copying other popular games. I bring this up because today I am looking at their newest game Darksburg. Released in early access a couple days ago I didn’t know what to expect out of Darksburg but the premise looked interesting and since I have enjoyed the other games that Shiro Games have released I wanted to check it out. Darksburg is a fun little team based hack ‘n slash game with a lot of character and a good framework that feels like it was released a little early.

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Shiro Games for the preview copy of Darksburg used for this preview. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to preview, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. Receiving the preview copy for free had no impact on the content of this preview.

In Darksburg you play as one of a number of survivors. Your small little town of Darksburg has been overrun by zombies. As you are vastly outnumbered you must team up with other survivors in order to beat back the infected as you try to escape the town. Can you successfully work together in order to stay alive or will you succumb to the zombie hordes?

While Darksburg is a combination of different genres I would say that it borrows the most from the hack ‘n slash and beat ’em up genres. You and a group of your friends (or computer AIs if you don’t have enough friends) will each choose a different character. At this point there are four different characters with each one having its own unique attacks/abilities. Three of these characters are mostly melee fighters while the fourth utilizes ranged attacks. Basically the four characters must work together in order to defeat the zombie hordes that stand in the way of their objectives.

The combat in the game is similar to a lot of games from the hack ‘n slash and beat ’em up genres. The game is played in real-time. Each character has a main attack which you can use as often as you want. To attack you just press a button and your character will attack in the direction they are facing. Each character also has four special abilities. These abilities have different effects mostly dealing damage to larger areas or giving players the ability to escape when they get surrounded. The special abilities have cooldown periods where you can only use them every so often. Three of the abilities have pretty fast cooldown periods where they can be used as supplementary abilities to your normal attack. The fourth special ability has a considerably longer cooldown which is also considerably more powerful. The gameplay mostly revolves around button mashing your main attack mixing in your special abilities when they are available.

At this time Darksburg includes three different gameplay modes. I would say that the main mode right now is the PVE mode. In the PVE mode up to four players (with computer AIs filling in if there are less players) are dropped into one of the three locations currently in the game. The objective of the mode is to complete a set of objectives that stand between you and your escape. These mostly revolve around reaching certain locations or retrieving important items. Along the way you will have to deal with a bunch of zombies and Revenants (basically upgraded units that have their own special abilities). During each level you will acquire various types of currency which you can then use during your next run to give you and your teammates various benefits to improve your chances of success.

The other two modes are the PVP and the Last Stand modes. The Last Stand mode is similar to the PVE mode. Instead of exploring the map you are trapped in a location and have to survive waves of zombies with each wave getting progressively more difficult. Meanwhile the PVP mode revolves around a team of heroes facing off against a team of Revenants. Players divide into two teams to see which side will be the last standing.

Of the three modes I enjoyed the PVE mode the most. While the objectives are a little basic at this point I found this mode to be pretty fun. Exploring the world is fun and the game already has a sense of humor which I appreciate. I am really interested in seeing how this mode develops in the future. I found the Last Stand mode to be pretty fun as well. Getting surrounded by zombie hordes and having to fight your way out is always fun. This mode is quite difficult though especially if you have to rely on computer AIs (more on this later). As for the PVP mode I haven’t checked it out as I am not usually a fan of those type of modes. Based on other players’ comments it sounds like this mode is fun but the characters are not well balanced.

While the game has some issues I had fun with Darksburg. The combat is far from realistic which is not surprising as one character uses a giant cross and another uses a pan as their main weapons. There is no complex dodging or parrying system in the game. Instead the combat focuses on just beating your opponents senseless. The combat relies on a lot of button mashing as you spam your main attack button to beat up all of the zombies that stand in your way. If you have never really been into hack ‘n slash/beat ’em up games Darksburg will probably not be for you as the combat is not particularly deep. Nevertheless I found the combat to be fun. There is just something satisfying about beating back huge swarms of zombies. The game really shines when you are surrounded by zombies and have to beat them back just to be able to move. If this sounds fun to you I think you will enjoy Darksburg.

Despite only being in early access I also think the game shows a lot of potential with regards to its overall theme. At this point the game’s story is very basic as it is just about a small town being invaded by zombies. The game doesn’t explain what caused the zombie outbreak and there is no overarching story between the missions outside of just trying to escape. I hope as the game is further developed there will be a greater emphasis put on the story. Despite not having much of a story I think the game is on the right path to creating a really unique experience. I attribute this to a couple things. First I really liked the game’s art style. The game utilizes kind of a blend between a realistic and cartoony style which I think works well for the game. I also think the game has done a good job developing some interesting characters. The game already has a sense of humor which is kind of rare for a game in early access. I think Darksburg is at a good place so far in this area and I hope it continues to develop it further.

At this point I would say that Darksburg shows a lot of promise. The game already has the framework for a fun and enjoyable team based hack ‘n slash/beat ’em up game. If the game is further developed I could see it becoming a really good game. Having played the three other games that Shiro Games has made in the past (Evoland, Evoland 2, and Northgard) and enjoying them I have faith in the developers. The game is expected to be in early access for six to twelve months so I believe the final product will improve greatly upon where the game is right now. With that said the game does currently have some issues that have to be fixed during the early access process.

I would say that the biggest problem with the game is that it feels like it was released a little too early. This shows up most in the fact that the game doesn’t have a ton of content at this point. I applaud the game for having three different modes but there isn’t a lot to do in each of the modes. The PVE mode only has three different levels and the Last Stand mode only has two different maps. These levels take a decent amount of time to complete but you are then only left with repeating the same levels over and over again. You can always replay the levels in order to upgrade the characters or try them on harder difficulties. This still becomes repetitive as you are just playing the same levels over again. Unless you don’t mind replaying the same levels to improve your skill I would say that you may only get two to three hours of content out of the game at this point.

The second problem with the game has to deal with the game’s difficulty and the use of computer AIs. Darksburg is a game built around playing with other people. You don’t need four players to play the game but I would highly recommend it as at this point the computer AIs are not great. I appreciate the game including the AIs because some people don’t want to play with strangers online or can’t find enough people to play with. With how the game is structured there is no way you could succeed without all four characters. So the computer AIs will help fill in those roles that you can’t get someone else to play. The problem is that they can be really hit or miss. The AIs handle themselves well enough most of the time as they will help you take down enemies. Sometimes they make really stupid decisions though. In one game I ended up playing with two computer AIs which would rush to pick up every healing item. They would then proceed to use it even if they didn’t need it and my teammate or I really did. In another game they would pick up the items and refuse to use them even when they really needed to use them.

These problems with the computer AIs lead to the game being quite difficult. I am guessing that the game was designed where you would have to keep playing to upgrade your characters in order to succeed. If you have to play with computer AIs though I wish you luck as it will be hard to win. The game includes a number of different difficulties with the lowest being training mode. If you play in training mode the game is easy enough that you shouldn’t have troubles finishing a level in the PVE mode. When you move onto the next difficulty though the game becomes quite a bit more difficult especially if you have to rely on AIs. Unless you spend quite a bit of time upgrading the characters I see no way you can beat the difficulties higher than the second difficulty if you have to use AIs. They make too many mistakes which will lead to you getting swarmed by zombies. The Last Stand mode is even more difficult as even the training mode is difficult when you have to rely on AIs. Unless you can get a group of four people to play together you need to be aware that you likely will have spent a lot of time upgrading the characters.

The final issue I have with Darksburg is that I think the combat could be a little deeper. At its core I enjoyed the combat as it is fun to just beat up zombies. These type of games never rely on really deep combat as you mostly just mash buttons as quickly as possible. The problem is that it felt like there was something missing from the combat. I am not exactly sure what it is either. Maybe giving the characters some additional attacks or adding more types of enemies would help. After a while the combat just felt like it was becoming a little repetitive. I don’t think the combat should be drastically changed as it is fun, but I think it could use a little tweaking.

At the end of the day there are things that I liked about Darksburg and there are things that I think could have been better. This is to be expected from a game that is in early access. On the positive side I think the game has a good framework in place to make a really enjoyable game. I found the combat to be enjoyable even if it could use some slight tweaks. It is satisfying beating down a bunch of zombies especially when you get surrounded on all sides. I also like that the game has a big emphasis on teamwork as I can see Darksburg becoming a game that is really fun to play with your friends. While the story is a little thin at this point I like the game’s overall style as it already shows quite a bit of character. The main problem that I had with the game is that it just feels like it was released a little early. The game doesn’t have a lot of content at this point. The game also feels a little unbalanced as the computer AIs are not the best teammates. While it has some issues that need to be addressed I think Darksburg has the potential to be a really good game.

If the premise of a team based hack ‘n slash/beat ’em up zombie game doesn’t sound all that interesting Darksburg probably won’t be for you. If the game’s premise sounds interesting to you though I think you can have fun with the game. Whether you should purchase it right away or wait until it is further developed depends on whether you mind that is doesn’t have a lot of content at this point. Either way I think Darksburg is a game that you should keep your eyes on.

Buy Darksburg online: Steam

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