March 24, 2021

Shining in the Darkness - Ranking

 

Story & World

Most dungeon crawlers don't ever take home a lot of points for story, and SitD is no exception.  The few cutscenes that exist help define the character and NPC personalities but they are never expanded upon.  I don't necessarily mind this as it allows more room for my own personal brand of Nungness, but that means that I get the points instead.  I'll give additional credit for naming the villain Melvyl and no, I don't know why I found that so funny, but after re-reading my last post, it was apparently funny enough to be the driving force behind half of the jokes.

Although crawlers lack the immersion of exploring an overworld and all the points of interest it may contain, I still get off probing the depths of a dungeon as long as it's filled with a variety of stuff (not just a bunch of chests).  SitD did a decent job of keeping my interest piqued enough to always want to get back in there, from little scenes like the encounter with my dumbass father to teasing me by placing a tantalizing chest behind an immovable grate so that I'd have to find an alternative route to snag it.  In addition to the ease of being able to warp back to town with a super cheap spell or item, SitD also makes it easy to get back into whatever dungeon level one left off at, cutting down on tedious walking and near pointless battles.


Character Development

Nothing too fancy with five stats that each go up a few points upon level gain and in my playthrough I achieved close to 50 levels for each character.  The problem with such a system is that with so many levels, each with small stat increases, it never seems like a big deal when a level is gained.  The only remotely interesting part of leveling up is when a new spell is gained or an existing one gets upgraded.  Even then, the spell roster is just filled with the standard RPG fare, so even that's not particularily noteworthy.

Equipment manages to have a lot more impact on the killing floor as a new piece has a palatable effect on combat.  This is especially true of the cursed and mithril items; recall that the cursed Hex Whip changed Pyra from a simple mage to a badass warrior-mage.  I also liked that mithril was in limited supply and I couldn't just abuse that to make the best equipment for all three party members.

Combat & Monsters

Large group combats are always appreciated over singular enemies and boy, does SitD ever like to have big groups, so much so that monster sprites sometimes almost completely overlap each other.  As mentioned in the postings, this tendancy for large groups can be downright devastating if a monster type has a strong special ability.  This is not a bad thing as it makes delving very tense which, while sometimes annoying, is far better than being bored.  Plus, it's pretty badass when Pyra or that other spellcasting guy casts a big nuke spell and takes out ten baddies all at once.  Monster phenotypes run the typical fantasty gamut with some interesting additions, like the bouncing bowling ball mini-boss whom is burnt into my memory from all the ass-kickings I received from it.


Graphics & Sound

Decent marks all around here, with nothing too outstanding or too suckstanding.  Despite being a deep and dank dungeon, the place is pretty vibrant and vivid, and each monster species come in a variety of exciting colour variations.  The tunes lend well to the atmosphere and gets better and better as the game progresses.


Gameplay

I always like those big ticket items in my RPGs and tying a limited resource to their creation was even better.  If anything, it was knowing that there could potentionally be more mithril out there that drove me back into the dungeon.  It's so much better than just the vague notion of treasure being out there.  Still, once I couldn't find any more mithril (although I'm pretty sure I didn't get it all as there were a few places I couldn't figure out how to get into), the golds started accreting.  By the endgame, I had enough gold to do ten more mithrils I'm sure.

Dungeon crawlers have a tough job in setting a good pace without feeling like things are dragging.  Without a whole lot of non-combat distractions, it can get very repetitive very quick.  Thankfully, SitD sprinkles just enough variance to not make it seem like too much of a slog.



FINAL RANKING