When you parody the classics of a genre, is it a sin to be yourself? This is the question that animated us during the entire test of the Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Disorder. The sets, the enemies, the character classes, the quests, everything exudes the role-playing game of the 1980s with Dungeons and Dragons sauce. But the fact is that it works, the mechanics proven by more than 40 years of role-playing games work well together and will have the merit of not losing anyone who has already got their hands on a role-playing game (RPG) in turn. tower.
A cult series from the 2000s
Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk is a French audio series created in 2001 by Pen of Chaos, whose real name is John Lang. It features a troop of adventurers in a medieval fantasy world that roams a dungeon in search of a mysterious statuette. The originality of the work lies in its totally offbeat tone which makes fun of the clichés of role playing and the stereotypes of characters that we meet there. Success will soon be there, giving rise to many adaptations: comics, novels, music and now video games.
“He doesn’t look that great. Don’t trust it, eh ”
The game is divided into two phases of gameplay: exploration and combat. In the first, we control in real time the whole troop of adventurers with predefined characteristics but that the player can appropriate over the course of level increases and equipment improvements. The rather balanced ranger, the talented but fragile bow elf, the agile and powerful barbarian, the very strong but slow ogre, the sorceress for healing and area attacks, the cowardly and agile thief and the beefy dwarf. and nag. To this fine team will be added other characters from the series, but we won’t tell you more!
During this phase, the player walks through the dungeon, searches the rooms, solves some puzzles and goes to the various quest locations. This is clearly not the most thrilling part, especially as there are many back and forth trips, without the possibility of fast travel. We must add to this rather long loading times between zones which does not invite more than that to stroll. This will still have the merit of making us interact with some of the emblematic places of the saga, the tavern for example!
But the discovery passed, we no longer really linger to contemplate the levels, relegated to simple corridors after the player has defeated all the enemies.
“Hey Elf! The Barbarian needs you! ”
It is during combat that the Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Disorder shines more. Turn-based tactical clashes where the humor inherent in the series leaves room for a certain requirement of placement and planning not to be reduced to mush by the first company of goblins to come. Faced with the difficulty – level 3 out of 4 for the test – no choice, we have to make our characters collaborate, the powers of one going hand in hand with those of another. There is no question of making one of the heroes leave without support, at the risk of falling knocked out before being able to attack (potions or healing spells can catch up, but are in limited number during a fight). No, we must measure each movement by anticipating those of the enemies, and not hesitate to use and abuse the saving to compensate for the nasty twists of fate that the game has in store for us. Twists of fate that sometimes border on injustice when all the choices made seem to be the right ones … Example with the thief endowed with a special attack when he is behind the back of enemies: after having made him drink an invisibility potion, scrupulously bypass all the opponents, get behind one of them and finally launch their attack after 3 turns of preparation, eat a critical failure bordering on gratuitous villainy!
And if, on the contrary, it is exhilarating to see a plan unfold without a hitch, it is in these phases of combat that the paradoxically classic but attractive side of the game is fully expressed. Hit probabilities here, area effects there, traps, ranged attacks, critical hits and misses etc. We are certainly not upset, but we never feel lost. We are well, in a familiar universe with mechanics that do not surprise but which we know will not disappoint us either. It’s nice, easy to handle, it’s almost like being at home, barely if we don’t miss the plaid and the pair of slippers.
“It is fortune that interests us”
On the scenario side, it is an original main quest that is offered to us, located in the same time frame as season 1 or the first volume of the comic strip. Without being of a crazy originality in the first hours of play, the plot is well conducted and leads the player in a dark story of curse affecting the group of adventurers after the famous amulet of disorder – with various effects – is theirs. fallen into the money bag. The more the quest progresses, the more the mystery surrounding this curse thickens: we wonder, we suppose and above all we predict the sequence of events. A mechanism that undoubtedly works better with connoisseurs of the universe of Naheulbeuk.
The side quests are a little wrong, however, and too often have the ultra-worn form: “monster-treasure carrier”. More than just curiosity, we soon find ourselves chaining them together only to obtain the rewards – object, gold and experience – which are almost essential to have the level necessary for the main quest.
“You have big arms but you have no humor!”
Where the Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Disorder stands out on the other hand – and this is quite normal when you know the qualities of the series – it is on the humor dotted in all the layers of the game. ‘initially inspired in part by the audio saga and which are teeming with references, to Kaamelott for example with a tone quite close to that of Naheulbeuk, parody obliges. Moreover, Franck Pitiot and Jacques Chambon -Perceval and Merlin in Kaamelott- are among the actors who have lent their voices for the dubbing. A quality dub, omnipresent – try to sit idly for 30 seconds and you will quickly be called to order by a protruding replica of the dwarf – which fits wonderfully into the universe.
In addition, even the smallest detail of the game has been worked on to match the atmosphere of the original work. Just look at the descriptions of items, consumables and other equipment, all of which are hilarious and which you are bound to be encouraged to read. The blows and abilities during the fights were also thought in this direction: they have coherent effects but always tinged with this humor which is sometimes bold, sometimes subtle, but always faithful to the “Naheulbeukien” tone.
The game manages to be inspired by the universe it aims and even better, it manages to fit into it by doing little recycling of the gags imagined by John Lang. However, the path was narrow between the rut of fan service and that of total mess when we know the demands of the fans of the Dungeon of Naheulbeuk. Artefacts Studio and Dear Villagers played the balancing act and managed to deliver a game that could be improved in some ways, but terribly endearing when you have known a little bit about the 2000s series or simply the old-fashioned role-playing game.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Disorder on PC only. Release date: Thursday, September 17. Available on Steam for € 34.99 in its standard version.
– The humor of the saga very well transcribed
– The difficulty measured in such a way as to offer a good challenge
– Combat mechanics, with dozens of statistics
– … Naheulbeuk what!
We like less
– The exploration part a little bland
– Rarely interesting side quests