Dark Envoy: Preview
Dark Envoy: Preview
Written by: David Cameron
Let's see what Event Horizon can do with this indie game development, where innovation and creativity often thrive, "Dark Envoy" emerges as an intriguing addition to the CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game) genre. Developed by Event Horizon, this title exudes a faint aroma of "Divinity" while venturing into uncharted territories of its own. Set in the captivating realm of Jaan, a world that seamlessly fuses science fiction technology with magical wonders, "Dark Envoy" introduces players to the adventures of two siblings, Malakai and Kaela, and a diverse party of companions who accompany them on their epic journey.
Jaan: A World of Techno-Magic Intrigue
Jaan, the setting for "Dark Envoy," is a world brimming with technological marvels and arcane mysteries. It's a place where engineers wield rifles and summon intricate automated turrets, while warriors engage in combat with swords adorned with luminescent elements. Despite some linguistic quirks, such as confusion over the placement of umlauts in the game's subtitles, Jaan provides a fertile ground for exploration, adventure, and dungeon-crawling. Within this multifaceted world, two siblings, Malakai and Kaela, assume the roles of relic hunters, embarking on perilous quests that hold the promise of incredible treasures.
Character Customization and Class Diversity
One of the defining features of "Dark Envoy" is its character customization system. Players have the opportunity to tailor Malakai and Kaela to their liking, selecting from four primary classes at the outset. As the game unfolds, players unlock four additional specializations for each class, adding layers of depth and strategy to character development. This customization feature empowers players to shape the skills and abilities of their protagonists, ensuring a unique and personalized gaming experience.
In my journey through the early game demo, I had the chance to experiment with different class combinations. My initial choice paired an Adept Malakai with a Sharpshooter Kaela, creating a spellcasting and ranged combat duo. While enjoyable, this setup posed challenges in terms of maintaining consistent damage output and ensuring the survival of the siblings in the heat of battle. "Dark Envoy" introduces a tactical pause system to aid players in planning their attacks, although it lacks a queue system, limiting the range of available options. The tactical pause primarily serves to help players manage character cooldowns, which adds a layer of strategy to combat encounters.
A Flaw in the Balance
One significant drawback becomes evident during gameplay – there is currently no reliable method for healing characters outside of finding healing towers scattered throughout the world. These towers have a finite number of uses, and the absence of alternative healing mechanisms presents a formidable challenge. My first playthrough came to an abrupt end in a dungeon, where I faced a formidable wave of enemies with no means to restore my characters' health. This issue underscores the need for a more balanced approach to healing mechanics, particularly in a game that heavily emphasizes combat. It's imperative that players have a means to regenerate health during encounters, or they risk being hindered in progressing through challenging areas.
A Lesson Learned: The Power of Diverse Combinations
In my subsequent attempt to conquer the "Dark Envoy" demo, I opted for a different approach, selecting a Warrior and an Engineer as my protagonists. This combination proved to be significantly more effective. Malakai's resilience allowed him to absorb more damage, while Kaela could summon a formidable turret and unleash devastating chains of lightning upon foes. The spellcasting mechanics, in particular, stand out as they enable players to paint the path for the lightning to travel, effectively targeting multiple enemies within its path. The shift in class choice markedly improved my experience, emphasizing the importance of diverse character combinations and tactics in the game.
Loot and Progression: A Journey of Min-Maxing
As is customary in CRPGs, "Dark Envoy" offers a treasure trove of loot to uncover. Chests and defeated enemies yield not only currency but also valuable gear. The game encourages players to engage in min-maxing, meticulously optimizing their characters' equipment and abilities. While the animations and collision detection may leave room for improvement, combat remains enjoyable. The inclusion of cover points for ranged characters and an enemy detection radius adds tactical depth to encounters, allowing players to gain the upper hand with clever positioning and strategic maneuvers.
Character Dynamics and Narrative Quirks
Beyond combat and exploration, "Dark Envoy" introduces players to the dynamic between the two siblings, Malakai and Kaela. While their interactions occasionally border on cheesy, and their chemistry feels somewhat forced, they engage in playful bickering reminiscent of teenagers. Curiously, they frequently reference "mom and dad" while nonchalantly recounting harrowing events, such as their encounter with a nest of giant scorpions. The writing exhibits occasional oddities, but it doesn't disrupt the overall gaming experience. Additionally, the game presents a diverse selection of skills and abilities, including a long-distance charge for Warriors and an evasive dodge-roll for Sharpshooters. Specializations promise even more potent abilities, promising a deeper level of tactical customization and moral dilemmas akin to the choices presented in "Divinity."
A Path Paved by Player Choices
Like its predecessors, "Dark Envoy" embraces player choice as a central element of its storytelling. The demo provides a glimpse into the moral dilemmas players will encounter throughout the game. While these choices currently lack significant weight, it's reasonable to assume that they will gain importance as the narrative unfolds. The potential for players to shape the outcome of the story adds an extra layer of depth and replayability to the game.
In the Shadow of Giants
Entering a genre dominated by giants like "Pathfinder," "Pillars of Eternity," and "Baldur's Gate III," "Dark Envoy" faces the formidable challenge of distinguishing itself. While it has yet to unveil groundbreaking innovations, the game demonstrates potential and promise. Its intriguing world and diverse classes set the stage for an engaging adventure, and the skill and ability system presents opportunities for strategic depth. Although it treads familiar ground, "Dark Envoy" captures a sense of charm and vibrancy in its early stages. As the game evolves and approaches its launch date, it holds the potential to carve out a niche for itself among CRPG enthusiasts.
In conclusion, "Dark Envoy" may not yet shine as brightly as its predecessors in the CRPG genre, but it offers a glimpse of a captivating world and the promise of engaging gameplay. With some refinement and balance adjustments, it has the potential to become a memorable addition to the gaming landscape. As we look ahead to its official release, there is anticipation and curiosity about how "Dark Envoy" will develop and whether it will fulfill its potential as a standout title in the realm of tactical CRPGs.
Written by: David Cameron