by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
The Dungeon of… What Exactly?!
I think I asked our presenter three times how to pronounce the name of his game, and I still can’t. Based on a series of audio books, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos has one of the most unpronounceable game names I’ve ever encountered. In all likelihood, this is because the name was conjured up by a French author and made to sound German. As unfortunate a combination it is, it also lead to much hilarity among our team. Our unmitigated laughter trying to put voice to this odd name does fit the overall theme of the game: The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is a parody on medieval fantasy role playing games.
As the presentation started, I was immediately struck by the graphical style that Naheulbeuk (stop trying to pronounce it, you won’t get it right, trust me) had adopted and the amount of detail in the gameworld. Everything looks playful, warm and inviting. There is a lot of variation in design, too, and there was something interesting to look at in each room. The kitchen alone had a crackling fireplace casting shadows on its walls, a rotating spit roasting a pig, and mice looking for food scraps on the floor. We only saw one map, but if each of the 10 stories that make up the game’s tower have this level of detail, we’re in for a treat. Oh, and if you were looking for the dungeons - four of those stories are below ground.
There was constant banter between the game’s companions. Your party can contain up to eight adventurers but more are found at regular intervals and you’ll have to make choices whom to bring along. Regardless of your choices, none of your party members start out particularly happy about having to work together. This, of course, opens many comical doors. We were told that it’s possible that some of the characters will grow to like each other over time, but the developers were skittish about details beyond that the dynamics change through their interactions.
Some of the comedy in the dialogue was lost though, due to poor voice acting. When asked, Playdius explained that they initially focused on their roster of French voice actors which includes French celebrities as well as regular voice actors. The English cast was not complete yet. If they do put together a good team, I’m sure the game will give our facial muscles a good workout.
Prior to combat, players will have a chance of positioning each of the characters in their party. It’s worth putting some thought behind this as positioning is a major component in the game. Flanking has significant benefits and surrounding an enemy will allow multiple characters to team up during the strike. The amount and type of damage dealt is based on the strongest character, and if characters have a high level of compatibility, they’ll automatically gain buffs. You can imagine that manoeuvring the right characters to the right place can be very impactful.
The surroundings also play a role. The combat area is a cordoned off section of the location you are in when combat starts, which means that any obstacle in that location will be part of the combat puzzle. Some objects can be used as a weapon too. An oil barrel could be ignited to light an entire area on fire for instance. In our presentation, an enemy archer had set himself up behind a bunch of crates, highly defensible and unreachable to melee attacks. Ranged attacks did limited damage due to cover provided by the crates so the presenter opted to cast some area-damage spells to hit both the archer and do damage to the crates at the same time. Defeated player characters do not die but are taken out of combat and healed after combat, providing you have appropriate items at hand.
One to follow
With an expected 40 hours of gameplay, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos won’t be the longest RPG we’ve ever played, but with the voice cast it may be the funniest. The game is currently in Alpha with a full release expected in 2019. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one and report back when we have something new to share.