Dark Deity Key Art
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Dark Deity started out as a Kickstarter project that was released on PC in June of 2021. It was well-received from the beginning and sold well enough to justify an expansion to the Nintendo Switch which I had the pleasure of reviewing. Right from the beginning, Dark Deity wore its influences on its sleeve but did it quite live up to the games it attempts to emulate? Sort of. In this Dark Deity review, I will explain why I felt this game was more “pale imitation” than competitor for the throne.

Dark Deity Review: Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Title: Dark Deity

Developer: Sword & Axe LLC

Publisher: Freedom Games

Players: 1

Genre: Strategy, RPG, Tactical

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch

Release Date: March 17, 2022

The Core Gameplay

It’s only right to focus on this first. The biggest appeal of Dark Deity to a lot of people will be the Fire Emblem style battles. I found this to be the strong point of the game, as it has to be. It toes a very difficult line of making my units feel powerful enough to plough through hordes of enemies while also making sure that my tactics are spot-on or I’d be picked apart in a quick fashion. There is some leeway and you don’t need to achieve perfection to win, but any lapse in your judgment will see you punished on higher difficulties.

I found the different unit types to be useful enough that none were ever useless, I had a nice mix of hand-to-hand combat specialists who could lead the charge with magic users, archers, and healers lined up to provide help when needed. While I did find magic users to be quite a bit stronger than the others I still needed to provide them with the necessary backup to fully utilize their power.

This leads me to another big positive with Dark Deity. The promotion system. Getting to choose which path my units go down as they grew in order to further diversify my team was satisfying. Making sure I had a number of different types of units was always in the back of my mind, especially when it came to ensuring I wasn’t reducing ranged units to close hand, or changing healing units to fighters. The promotional system is a small enough addition to the game but it was an added level of control that deepened my responsibilities in the game.

Not every battle was about me winning which was a nice touch. Some required me to survive an onslaught for a specific number of turns, others needed me to just reach the end of the area and escape. The variety kept the things fresh, even if things still got monotonous towards the end.

The Tale of a Ragtag Collective

Irving imploring his unit to stop a powerful mage
Irving directs the crew

The story of Dark Deity is pretty standard fare for a fantasy game. To avoid spoilers I won’t delve too deep into the intricacies of the story but the game follows a ragtag group of warriors, tasked with stopping an incredibly powerful evil amidst a war between two Kings that have lost touch with reality.

The story wasn’t really anything special and I really felt like there were some elements that could have been explored to make things more interesting, but ended up being smoother over entirely. The main story focuses on a very limited group of characters, with everyone else relegated to the bonds system (more on that in a bit).

There are some attempts made in Dark Deity to pluck at the heartstrings of the player but they mostly fell flat with me. It’s not that I’m some kind of cold-hearted person but I found it very hard to care about these characters that I’d barely been given the chance to connect with.

The “Bonds” System

Dark Deity Review - Bonds menu screengrab
Character lore deepens through bonds

One of the things that I vividly remember from my time playing Fire Emblem back on the 3DS was the importance of chemistry between characters. It gave me the chance to see the character’s relationships grow over time. In addition, characters with good relationships would help one another out when in combat. It was an important and necessary mechanic of the Fire Emblem game. Dark Deity attempts to recreate this but it feels so hollow.

A big issue is that there are just too many characters, many of whom are thrown into the fray in groups, and then forgotten about for the next new face. Out of the 30 characters involved, there was only a handful that were actually interesting. The majority of the characters in-game are just one-note stereotypes that overlap with some of the other one-note stereotypes. For the most part the interactions between characters are stunted or unnecessarily standoffish, leaving me with a distaste towards a number of them. Out of everyone, Garrick and Alden were the only two whose interactions actually felt organic and enjoyable. Garrick’s wit and sarcasm were part of who he is and the other characters played off it very well, knowing that he was good at heart. The same can’t be said for other characters, looking at you Monroe!

All of this would be somewhat ok if the bonds actually played into the in-game action. For example, if Alden forming a bond with Aurima caused both to gain a stat boost when working together. This would not only come into play in my strategy (as I’d aim to keep them together) but it’d also make the bonds feel like an organic and important aspect of the game. Instead they’re left feeling tacked on to justify the massive cast of characters and extend the game’s run time.

Tepid Emblem

For those hankering to play a Fire Emblem style game, Dark Deity will no doubt scratch your itch. Its tactical gameplay is satisfying and engaging, with a wide array of units at your disposal to lay waste to your enemies. The story and characters are lacking, however, which leads to a lot of the game feeling like a slog to get through. The contestant addition of new characters leads to a “shiny new toy” mentality with other characters being forgotten about and left to waste away in the meaningless bonds section

Dark Deity Review – The LWOGaming Verdict

6/10

**Review code supplied by Freedom Games**

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