Being a fan of Diablo-style loot grinds, I was pretty excited to try DevilDark: The Fallen Kingdom [$0.99], Triniti Interactive’s take on the classic dungeon hack and slash. For the most part, DevilDark actually does a good job recreating the experience with nice visuals and a decent amount of weapons and armor. Unfortunately, simplistic gameplay combined with some general miscues hold the title back from stardom.

DevilDark follows the story of a wandering (and clueless) adventurer that sets out on a journey to save the world from being ravaged by an evil demon, who had been unleashed by a power-hungry king years beforehand. You’ll slowly accomplish this by doing a bunch of quests that involve fetching items and taking down hordes of baddies. An occasional boss battle permeates the monotony, but for the most part, DevilDark stays close to its dungeon crawling roots. While I realize that narrative may not be the priority in such a game, I would have liked something more than the intro cutscene and what little I can glean from quest texts.

One of the keys to a successful dungeon hack and slash is a robust inventory. While DevilDark doesn’t provide the limitless customization of say a Diablo, there’s more than enough loot to keep you occupied. Additional features such as bonuses for wearing groups of armor as well as elemental infusion do a great job adding some much-needed customization. The inclusion of a slot machine that has the potential to toss out some high-leveled gear is a nice touch, as well. However, I wasn’t a fan of the fact that some weapons and armor required currency that could only be purchased via IAP. Suffice to say, these special items aren’t required to complete the game – just expect to grind a lot more to pick up the normal currency items.

DevilDark’s visual engine is another standout feature in the game. The cell-shaded style looks great on Retina-enabled iOS devices. While Retina Display compatibility extends to the new iPad, please note that there’s currently a UI bug that’s been identified and should be fixed relatively soon. It’s also nice that items equipped on your character change his appearance. The music and character design do a decent job reflecting the overall tongue-in-cheek presentation, although the music does get a bit repetitive as you begin playing the same maps continuously.

Speaking of repetition, gameplay is quite simplistic, even for a dungeon hack and slash. There’s little in terms of additional abilities (which are tied to which weapon you wield) beyond simply attacking. In addition, DevilDark has a few quirks that, while hardly significant, still detract from the experience. For example, there are a lot of reused maps and assets which quickly become boring with the amount of grinding you’ll have to do. Navigation is also done via a static overworld map, which feels a bit disjointed.

Another annoyance is the fact that the game doesn’t warn you when you accidentally exit a map (and thus end the mission). Considering the camera angles can occasionally block the 'world portal' I had a few instances where I wandered into the exit and lost all of my mission progress. The lack of iCloud support is disappointing as well.

The pacing also feels a bit off. 'Story-based' missions seem to drastically jump in difficulty with the completion of each previous objective. While DevilDark offers plenty of optional missions to earn coin and experience in order to prepare for said story missions, I’m not a fan of the sheer amount of grinding necessary.

It seems silly complaining about excessive grinding when the goal of games such as DevilDark are to, well, grind. However, there’s a lot of ways to implement the grind that keep it interesting without messing with the core formula. If DevilDark had a more cohesive story accompanied by randomized maps and a little more complex battle system, it would be at the top of my list on iOS. As it currently stands, the visual engine and sense of progression are enough to merit a recommendation, but there is potential for it to be much more.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarNoneNone
  • swarmster

    Thank you for mentioning whether the game supports or omits major features such as iCloud and iPad Retina. It's often impossible to tell from the App Store description.

  • http://twitter.com/dv8godd Radd Berkheiser

     DevilDark’s visual engine is another standout feature in the game. The cell-shaded style looks great on Retina-enabled iOS devices. 

    The UI for the new iPad was "mostly" fixed in last night's update, but I gotta say...

    ... try it again on the new iPad and re-think that statement.  I realize you probably didn't review it on the newest iOS device due to the UI issues... but it really is a disappointing engine to view.  The textures are muddy, the text is blocky and often unreadable under the UI, the UI is oversized and fugly, the character feels too zoomed in.  It is not at all up to the aesthetic quality I've come to expect from Triniti, personally.  I certainly wouldn't say the visual engine would lead me to recommend it on an iPad, actually the complete opposite.

    It certainly looks fine on Retina enabled phones... but I'd say the iPad was an afterthought at best.

    If you have a tablet, I'd say to avoid it until they put more attention to the different form factor.

  • TrippyBiscuit

    This app makes many mistakes as a paid app imo. There are adds on the main menu and pause menu along the button. There are weapons with special abilities that can ONLY be obtained by AIP and overpriced gear to make the AIP all the more temping. As a free game, this should be fine, but paying for a game with these freemium model is just Irritating.

  • TrippyBiscuit

    Hj

  • bigrand1

    WHY do they persist with these freemium games? I would happily pay a little more for the game to get everything in one package without the IAP's! I hate that! Ruins everything!

    • fredfnord

      It's funny: a lot of people say that, but it turns out that MUCH fewer of them actually do it. 

      I'm not saying you won't, there are plenty who will. But IAP games, even ones that have a few simple IAPs (not 'buy some currency' but 'buy an expansion pack' or whatever), make more money, because people can find out that they like them and then invest a couple more bucks.

      It's an unfortunate fact of human psychology that probably isn't going away anytime soon.

      • TaoDavid

        agreed.
        actually i feel freemium is reasonable. you enter the game with no cost. you try the game and you like it, then, you pay some bucks to make it full in content or mechanism.
        of course people are making impulse purchase, and that is what the dev wants. i think this is the part many people hate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmy-TheFish/100000139595167 Jimmy TheFish

      If that was the case the majority of the games that are top grossing wouldnt be freemium 

  • http://www.facebook.com/erikbmoller Erik Moller

    The game has great graphics, gameplay and just feels right. I don't mind grinding for gold and levelling up my character - the one gripe I have with this game is the one everybody has, the IAPs. If you wanted the best gear you could spend upwards of $99 USD. That's nuts. There's nothing in this game that warrants that kind of investment. Perhaps for a World of Warcraft-type game that has gone on for years, but for DevilDark? Good game though. The simple tweak the developers could do is make the IAPs cheaper - going from $0.99 to $4.99. But $99?? What? Are you insane? Follow the Jetpack Joyride model - I've gladly invested a few shekels in that game and will continue to when the big update hits. If DevilDark does the same, expect me to throw you $5-10. 

  • JCat_NY

    I'm looking forward one day to an upcoming headline that reads: "mobile industry sees a major decline in IAP".

  • Quickmix

    I play this game since a week and I like it!

  • Jack Zhou

    what is the last stage of the game?

    what do I do after I get the HOLY MOLY Relic?? Is that the end of the game?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Atlien1982 Timothy Dwayne Daniel

    It's funny hearing people complain about a 99 cent game.

  • Shyaporn

    Good review, but it neglects to mention the major failing of this game: the "story" isn't finished. Once you finish the level 35 boss mission, the game gives you no more story advancement, no notification that you've "saved" the land, won, etc... You can keep playing existing encounters, leveling and grinding, but that's it.

DevilDark: The Fallen Kingdom Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3