DestinyQuest Infinite Review: Storybook Title Blends Diablo Gameplay With A Fun And Engaging Fantasy Tale
As I stared down the lumbering troll that stood before me, overlooking a deep chasm on rickety old bridge, I thought to myself: I could just give this troll a bunch of gold and be done with it, but after a quick scan of my inventory, I knew I could take it.
I do wonder how things would have played out had I opted to pay the pitiful creature - one that received such an ass-whooping from my Magic-based character that its ancestors felt it. Alas, my road was forward. The road in DestinyQuest Infinite, while not quite endless, is certainly filled with many shifting paths to take. The new game from QuestForge and Adventure Cow - the first Act of a planned trilogy - is a fine example of the storybook genre that remembers to give you a fun game to play alongside its narrative.
Your character, a nameless wanderer, awakes amidst the remnants of a massacre. He (or perhaps she) is without memory of what happened or who he even is. The only link to your past is a fatally injured young soldier, who confides in you his own reasons for being on that battlefield. With no other direction in your life, you take up the boy's mission - become an apprentice to legendary soldier Avian Dale - and make for the man's castle. Along the way, as these adventures are wont to do, you end up in a town, Tithedale, and there have many adventures of varying difficulties.
DestinyQuest Infinite is the digital adaptation of the RPG of the same name. It prides itself on being basically Fighting Fantasy with Diablo-esque loot and abilities. Much like Diablo, the game is simplistic but deep. Players can choose from amongst four abilities: Speed, Brawn, Magic and Armor. Various items will boost your abilities and determine how you engage each encounter. While both Brawn and Magic play effectively the same in attacks, what you focus more on will matter more in the end than it does during the majority of Act 1.
Your stats are entirely determined by the various gear you earn, so if one day you wake up and don't want to deal in Brawn, you can switch it around (by either purchasing gear or collecting via quest rewards) and focus on something else. Even abilities, such as rerolling die, are determined by what you're wearing. I have always enjoyed the classless RPG hero, and here it makes sense, your character's life is a blank slate; why shouldn't your character's abilities be likewise?
The one skill you absolutely need to focus on, however, is Speed. Speed determines whether you or your opponent strikes that round, and you will be fighting a lot during the course of the game. It's amazingly simple: you each roll two six sided die, and whoever has the higher number, adjusted with your speed modifier, gets to deal damage that turn. Damage itself is determined by a 1d6 roll and either your Brawn or Magic - whichever is higher - minus the opponent's Armor. First one to fall, loses.
Much like Diablo, the action is very fun, even when it's boringly repetitive. The fights themselves never drag on too long, and if you die, you can basically restart the fight and hope for a better roll. And since your health resets back to its full amount after each fight, you can move from monster to monster without any downtime. It makes DestinyQuest Infinite a perfect casual game where you can fire it up, play one fight or quest, and then come back to it later. As a browser based game for both PC and Mac, your progress is always saved.
The full three-act game adapts writer Michael J. Ward's 600 pages of prose for the online choose your own adventure (CYOA) community. The writing is solid enough, filled with wonderful descriptions of horrifying beasties, and should please fans of the high fantasy genre. Some of the stories blatantly crib from other sources - there is an actual big bad wolf that eats grandma - but the CYOA options allow for the story to go in some unexpected places. My version of the ending of our little red riding hood tale ended in somewhat of a heartbreaking disaster for the girl.
The small backpack forces you to shed items as you collect new ones, preventing the traditional 'hoard, hoard, hoard, sell!' of dungeon crawlers. In fact, there is very little gold to be had to purchase what fine armor and weapons the shops sell. One hopes more sales options will be available in the next chapters.
The quests can be completed in any order and the only real barrier for entry is the Speed recommendation for battling the monsters. Further playtesting would have to reveal if the game actually changes based on the order of events, but it appears that each quest has little effect both on the town of Tithebury and the other adventures (save the sweet, sweet loot you receive as a reward). There is no sense that you're changing a world or a story, you're simply making a series of Yes/No decisions that affect the current path you are on.
A new monster every few minutes, a narrative that's easy to follow along yet has some genuine surprises in it, and a simple but effective combat system is enough to wash over DestinyQuest Infinite's missteps. The game does not reinvent the storybook, though it can go toe to toe with many other offerings. The First Act ends with the storyline about to go all to hell - quite literally- and I look forward to seeing where Ward and the crew over at QuestForge and Adventure Cow take this in the coming months.
DestinyQuest Infinite was reviewed on both PC and Mac using a developer code. The first Act of the game is available for $5.99 on January 21 from the Official Site, and you can purchase the full story for $14.99. Acts II and III will release in February and March.