Depths of Peril


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Rating: 4.4/5 (29 votes)
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Depths of Peril

Josh"Ugh, another isometric RPG," I thought as I set up my character and game options. But after just 20 minutes in, I could tell that my assumption was wrong, and that I'd stumbled onto something special. Developed by Soldak Entertainment, Depths of Peril is an action-RPG with a huge emphasis on political/diplomatic strategy. As you've probably already noticed from the first screenshot; yes, it is another Diablo-inspired RPG. But instead of being one of the dozens of bland, derivative clones we've seen over the years, Depths of Peril kept the best elements of these games and combined it with strategy mechanics similar to Civilization. The end result is something new and fresh; an independent, isometric action-RPG unlike anything I've played before, which also won the "RPG Game of the Year" award from GameTunnel.

depthsofperil_screen1Although the strategy aspects make this game extraordinary, the old-school, tried-and-true RPG elements are just as noteworthy. There are four classes to choose from: your faithful warrior, rogue, mage and priest. The mechanics of each class are just the first of many indications that the developers heavily drew from Diablo and World of Warcraft for influence. Warriors use "rage" as a resource pool just as a Mage uses mana. Rogues use "momentum" and Priests use "faith," which is basically the same as mana. Fans of the aforementioned Blizzard games will find this strikingly familiar, as well as the color-coded item rarity system, weapon and armor attributes, skill trees and more. The entire action-RPG system in Depths of Peril screams of Diablo influence, which isn't really a bad thing considering the trend-setting success it had in gaming culture.

Also familiar are the layout and controls, all of which follow the modern-day standard of mouse-click movement and interaction. You can access various menus by clicking their respective interface buttons, or by using the keyboard shortcuts. Left clicks control common actions like movement and interaction, while the right mouse button is used to attack enemies and execute less-common interactions. If you're a seasoned RPG player, you'll find the learning curve to be pretty smooth, with a look and feel similar to most other isometric RPGs.

Where that similarity ends is in the strategy aspect of the game, which I'd describe as a "single player, smaller MMORPG." Yeah, I realize that phrase contradicts itself in more than one way, but let me explain: Depths of Peril is a single player game, although you'll be playing with up to six other "players" just like yourself, controlled by the game's AI. These players (including yourself) are "faction" leaders, which you could think of as guild leaders. All the faction leaders have houses in the main town of Jorvik, a settlement surrounded by the hostile forces that make up the story and questlines of the game. The game world isn't as big and sprawling as some other RPGs, but there are a nice variety of zones in which you'll follow the central storyline and be able to take on side-quests.

depthsofperil_screen2The kicker is that Jorvik is a "living town," which means that your fellow faction leaders will be running around completing quests, trading goods and vying for power at the same time you are. Random world events will pop up from time to time, ultimately having positive or negative effects on you and the other faction leaders. The balance of power is the core mechanic of the game, which eventually dictates whether you win or lose the game. Your goal (and the goal of the other leaders) is to become the most powerful faction in the game, whether by influence or by force. It's an ongoing battle for supremacy by gathering recruits, money and power, while at the same time playing a quest-driven, loot-gathering, action-RPG.

The strategy aspect of the game is surprisingly detailed, but not so complex as to require a distracting amount of micro-managing. You can recruit NPCs into your faction to bolster your ranks and even take one of them along with you to complete quests. Opening lines of communication and trade with other factions can be paramount to your survival. Without allies — or at least non-aggression pacts — you'll be leaving yourself weak and vulnerable to attack from another faction, which is something that can happen at any time. These attacks are called "raids," and are ultimately how you take out opposing factions and can win the game. Buying guards and enchanted monsters to protect your lifestone (a stone in each faction house that represents its overall health) is important to prevent over-zealous leaders from destroying your faction.

Analysis: Even a write-up that's double the size of our average game review would only just scratch the surface of all the game details in Depths of Peril. To that end, you're better off checking out the official Depths of Peril game manual (notice more helpful links on the left button column).

depthsofperil_screen3More importantly, right now you might still be debating whether it's worth downloading the demo, and to that end, I'd urge you to try it out. Thankfully the developers offer a two-hour demo, which really gives players the time they need to decide if it's worth buying. If you're an RPG fan, you really owe it to yourself to check this game out. Sure, the graphics and sound aren't mind-blowing, but they're pretty good from an indie developer. Total play time isn't on par with the majors either; it's not a game that's going to take weeks to finish. At an aggressive pace you're probably looking at around three hours of playtime, or up to eight hours at a normal pace.

But as a casual RPG, Depths of Peril has a lot of replay value because every game is different. Your fellow faction leaders will never behave exactly the same way twice, and there are different quests, adventures and monsters to fight in each new game. There's also the infamous "addictive loot factor," as you find rare and legendary gear, and even collect unique armor sets. Loot can even be shared between multiple characters in the same game via a "shared stash" mechanic.

Depths of Peril takes the best features of the classic genre and adds an innovative, strategic twist that many gamers won't be able to resist. It's also a great offline alternative for RPG fans who are intrigued by the strategy of MMORPG's, but have never played one.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

17 Comments

Discovered and purchased this one a couple of months ago. Extremely solid title with a lot of replay value. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the idea of Diablo 2 - style dungeon crawling and loot gathering with some factional conflict layered on top.

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Excuse me, but how is this a casual game? Is it something you can play on a break, or get to the end fairly quickly?

It may be a great game, but I'm not buying it as 'casual.' It seems as engrossing as Diablo--70 hours of a weekend to never return.

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OK, you didn't put download as one of the tags. Just thought I'd point that out.

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I love me some Diablo clones, so I went and tried the demo of the game. I made it all the way to level 4 before my faction got attacked and I lost. All within the demo period, so I guess I can proudly wear the badge of ULTRA-fail.

PROS: Nice concept. I like the idea of combining strategy games, diplomacy into the RPG hack-n-slash genre.

CONS: Lack of story/lore.

Time restrictions very frustrating at a low level. The moment you begin gameplay, you're immediately under a huge amount of time pressure to compete against the AI for recruits, completing quests, all the while trying to do trades and keep relationships between covenants friendly and hope that you don't get attacked while questing. I would have liked a bit of a breather for the first few levels while I got my bearings around town. Which leads to the next con of this game:

Horrible navigation. I really wish the minimap was a bit more helpful. Some sort of zoom-out feature would be nice, so we can have an idea of where to go if we want to get to another zone. It's incredibly frustrating to be under a time limit, and basically have to wander in a general direction of where you know the zone to be, and then run up against a wall of obstruction where you have to run alongside it to find a single small entrance indicated by a purple dot. (This is worsened by the fact that the game doesn't seem too responsive to my mouse clicks and walking is done at a glacial pace).

I basically spent more time trying to walk around trees than I spent in actual combat.

Overall, this game had a unique concept, but there was just too much frustrated clicking to get from point A to point B and to kill monsters within a time limit for this to be really enjoyable for me.

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Tranchera Author Profile Page August 25, 2008 4:16 AM

Great game, although my first play through ended a little sooner than I had hoped for. My relationship with another covenant flourished and before I knew it we'd killed all the other factions and gained an Alliance win. I was only a level 8!

Still, excellent. I must try again with different classes + difficulties.

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I was not that much impressed with this game. To start with, those 3D graphics did not look too good. I even had trouble spotting enemies from the background, mainly used their red hp bar to see them. Not to mention drops on the ground which I really had to look for. Its of course all very colorful and has nice effects, still I wish the chars and items would stand out from the background imaginery.

Once in the battle I had no idea what was going on. Sure, my hero hit enemies and they hit back but when I tried to be involved in the fighting by clicking the mouse or pressing keys either nothing happened or my guy ran into wrong place. No idea what the skills were suppose to do or how to use them or if I did use them but never noticed.

My main problem was with the speed the game forced me into. If I was simply browsing the shop, selling my swords and buying pots, all other clans had to do some business with me. All those messages about which clan has reached higher status made me nervous, made me feel I was not doing enough and should play "more" or "better" somehow. It made me quite nervous and I didnt like it. It never felt like I understood the game completely.

Now the word MMORPG has to me at least meaning of months and even years tinkering on your char, leveling up slowly toward the distant unknown goal. This game however had instead a quick pace, quests had time limits, things had to be done fast (or you lose I guess). I didnt play enough to finish it, but one other clan was already eliminated in first hour or two so it does not look to be playing months on same game. You can always start new chars and new game but thats not what MMORPG is about. You simply dont abandon your char after day or two, you grow them, heal them, improve them.

Sorry to say but to me this game has done some things very wrong in very basic ways.

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tonypa: failing quests does not cause you to "lose". Once the game ends you do not lose your character. You can continue using the same character at different difficulty levels. The main quest will reset, but your waypoints will remain if you choose the same difficulty as you've previously gained waypoints in. Also, you keep your items, tomes, and relics.

The game is solid, but ended up too easy at around level 55 with a warrior focused on defense and basic dps, paired up with a rogue or mage. Graphics werent a problem. The minimap can be zoomed in/out. Also, by that point leveling became too slow for my patience, despite killing mobs 15 levels higher.

The story didn't interest me (but rarely does in any games). It's laid out through the tomes. Hint: you can access many menus while the game is paused. If you are feeling stressed, pause before checking your inventory, stats, etc,.. to be under less pressure.

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I'm not usually a fan of these RPG type games and this one was ok but not overly impressive. It looked like a throwback to Diablo with better graphics. This game goes by fairly quickly by RPG standards. Still not something I'd pull out during lunch break.

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Tranchera Author Profile Page August 26, 2008 4:33 AM

You can hold alt to highlight items on the ground and control to highlight enemies, if you're having trouble spotting them.

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@ Vaylie
Once you find your way around the main part of town and where your house is, you'll never have problems navigating in the game at all. And since the rival covenants don't leave their houses till you leave town, take as long to get to know the area as you want.

@ tonypa
Use alt to show items on the ground (in the options it can be set to toggle item showing if you want that), and if the enemy is hard to see try playing with a few of the graphic options, the only enemies this doesn't really work on are those that are intentionally hard to spot (those that hide underground or turn invisible before they attack).
Also, did you take the tutorial quests at the start of the game? Just talk to the nice person standing in the door to your house with a ? above their head.

@ Trav
if you're finding the game too easy at level 55, try playing a game on hardcore. Alternatively try a few mods. I have a mod that will triple XP, but has a drastic effect on game difficulty (enemies have triple HP, moves and spells cost more to use, item drops are less valuable, traps do more damage and enemy covenants have higher stats in relation to level than normal). It doesn't work on the demo though. PM me about it on the DoP forums if interested.

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Just a side note on the speed of the other factions(npc's) in the game...you can "Pause" the game while doing personal tasks like checking skills or inventory and such.

This helps when competing against those all business like AI controlled competitors ;)

Regards & Good Hunting!

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crantastic October 14, 2008 1:46 AM

This game sucks. Clunky controls and slow gameplay. If you don't want to have your covenant home wiped out, you have to answer the trade requests from the other covenants every 5 minutes, and frankly, this aspect of the game isn't all that interesting. Monster spawns are far too frequent, you can never "clear" an area, even briefly. This was a waste, even at $20. I'd rather run another character through Diablo II.

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Blackwing October 21, 2008 2:40 PM

Stop whining.
Diablo was total crap...
Once you are the "leader" or strongest in your town \ the only covenant left, you can "start a new game" - your items, stats, character and party \covenant members come with you, allowing you to restart the game with more factions.

That's more innovation than you need. Diablo had CLICK CLICK CLICK and you loved it, so shhh.
Right now I'm a level 9 warrior who's curious how he can cure plague..apothecary doesn't give the quest to do so (Plague drains ALL your stats by -20%).

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Dude, when you beat the game, you can start the game over by clicking the flashing crown, carrying over your items, cash, recruits, and stats. You get to set enemy difficulty again, and quests match your level. The first time you play, expect quite a bit of difficulty from other factions. However, you can restart with lower level enemies, making you towering over them. I have killed all other covenants via raid in about 5 min. total. All in all, great replay value, awesome game, can't wait to get enough cash to buy full version. I know a good rpg when I play it, and I'm always looking for good ones. Other good rpg's I've played are Eschalon Book One, and WoW. Any haters out there are just noobs, and I should know because I am mediocre at games, and I was able to do it without too much effort.

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Anonymous March 21, 2009 10:21 AM

I played the demo twice, once it beat it by beating all the factions at lvl 6!
Then I played it again and got 1 Alliance and conquered the rest! at lvl 6 again
I never got to far in the game =(

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jimmy (anonymous) March 29, 2010 6:22 PM

i recently strted playing it after found the disk i'm curently a lvl 22 warrior with awesome equipment and a lvl 22 rogue who i hated and drained it for the warrior

p.s i've played my warrior for 13 hours and have deafeated the 3rd boss (ciglio) and i'm almost at draaien or somthing like that

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