Dark Quest: Board Game

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Dark Quest: Board Game review
Justin Van Huyssteen


A rather barebones digital boardgame experience

Show me your cards

Digital board games are interesting things. They allow you to have all the fun of a sophisticated board game that involves a whole load of numbers and calculations, and it takes away your need to micromanage anything yourself. Which is great! What isn’t so great is when you play a digital board game that simply runs out of things to show you. And Dark Quest: Board Game, unlike many tabletop board games, is not played with friends who can keep it fun. Because even a game as boring as Monopoly can be enjoyable if you have the right friends. This game does not have that privilege.
So, what is it? Dark Quest: Board Game is a card-based single-player roguelite in which you choose from several heroes, each of which have specific abilities, and then you draw cards that determine what happens in each run. These cards can be for events, such as ambushes or finding some treasure or a healing fountain, or for rescuing more heroes (for use in later runs), finding shops, etc.

However, the problem comes in with regards to one little issue: there just aren’t that many exploration cards. Sometimes you’ll have similar events happening one after another. On multiple occasions I had traps being triggered with multiple successive card pulls. And the idea is that when you draw a card tied to a specific event, such as evading a trap or getting hit by it, you roll a dice. This is fine, but when you do pick up a trap card and then… another trap card… and you get low rolls each time, well, it can be rather irritating.

The game is also structured as a run-based roguelite. So, when all your characters die, you restart the run. While you do make your way through a series of "levels", you will always have to redo those early levels. And you will very quickly discover that there are limited events. And those limited events will have to be repeated over and over again every time you start a new run.

Show me those characters

The game likes to hand out new characters as you "explore" the world. These characters could be spell wielders, new types of warriors, etc, and they will have special characteristics. For instance, the one warrior can do damage over two tiles and the archer can shoot from range (although, I don’t think there is much of a difference in terms of range of attacks, as there isn’t a movement point system).

This is probably where it's best to discuss the combat. You see, most of the game is played using cards. But when it goes into a battle, you have a turn-based system in which you choose which character to use, select whichever ability you want to do (attacking, defending, etc) and then it’s the enemy’s turn. There is nothing deeper to it. It’s a very simple battle system. You just click who you want to attack and then you go attack them. There’s no cover mechanics, no movement point system, just a very barebones experience.

Furthermore, the heroes can be equipped with various cards that give them buffs or new equipment that increase stats, they can be upgraded to improve their abilities and, interestingly, there is also the "infinite health" system. There is no cap to a hero’s hit points. You can just keep acquiring hit points. Although, as a roguelite, you’ll probably never acquire too many and so this is more interesting in theory than in practice.

Show me some positivity

But what does the game have going for it? Well, it has a gorgeous tabletop-style aesthetic with the dungeon master always hovering over the board, great overall effects and phenomenal atmosphere. It’s a game that is very easy to want to love, but probably not an easy game to actually love. Unless you’re really itching for a card-based roguelite and every other one has managed to let you down.

It is, however, in Early Access, so maybe it will improve with time and become something that can be more readily recommended. But in its present state, it is rather difficult to recommend this game unless you are very certain that you are in this specific niche. But even then, there are better digital board games out there. Ones that have far more features and are completely finished.

Because as Dark Quest: Board Game stands at this particular moment, it is, quite simply, a boring game to play. There’s not much going on, and the pretty aesthetic is not going to keep you playing it for more than an hour or so (unless you really force yourself) or listen to podcasts in the background while you wait for something in the oven to finish cooking so you can, at last, have something of more substance to consume when you finish playing.

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fun score


Pretty visuals, good UI and overall feel


Repetitious, rather boring.