The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Fans of The Binding of
Isaac will find a lot to love in Avidly Wild Games’ Our Darker Purpose. This
Tim Burton-esque romp through the nightmare dreamscapes of the Edgewood Home
for Lost Children is almost everything a player looking for a modern “roguelite”
could desire. Featuring achievements that matter, high difficulty, randomized
dungeon crawls and some elements of choice thrown in, this darkly beautiful
title feels like the perfect evolution of the style of game that Binding of Isaac
brought into the spotlight.
Budget constraints in many
Kickstarter and Greenlight games can become apparent in bare visuals and sound
design, but that isn’t the case with this one. The strange gothic environments,
bizarre enemies, and charming-yet-haunting soundtrack complement the game
perfectly. It has a Nightmare Before Christmas
feel going for it that dulls the sting of continual deaths.
Death is permanent and
frequent, but all is not lost. Crystals obtained from each level are used to
purchase various upgrades. Some are permanent character boosts that make things
a little easier, but the best and most interesting improvements come from the
unique achievement system. Forget unlocking a meaningless amount of points or a
gold trophy; you actually need to complete achievements in order to unlock and
access various “courses.” These courses add various powers and abilities, and
only a certain number can be equipped. The majority of achievements need to be
earned by completing various boss encounters in specific and often difficult
ways, like defeating the Ice Dragon with his own ice shards or staying within
the Candelabra’s light radius during the entire duration of the fight.
The game also features a
leveling system that is reset upon each respawn. Defeating enemies gives
experience points, and at each level up players can pick one of two options.
Most of the time these are simple things like some additional attack damage,
speed, health, and some more interesting bonuses tacked on to base stats – like
additional damage to bosses or bonus chances to find special rooms. These
options combined with courses allow a player some serious customization options
to complement the random power-ups acquired through a character’s life. Players
can also choose their “route” through Edgewood, often having the option of
picking two to three different floors to explore. These options give players
some additional choices before venturing forth.
The level of difficulty
is high. While some bosses and enemies can be better handled through rote
memorization and practice, the random dungeons are often lethal. Step into a cloud
of confusion chalk and you’re likely to get killed and find yourself back at
the starting line. While the villains start off rather slow and easy to walk
around, you find this quickly changes as you delve deeper into Edgewood’s
mysteries. This challenge is perfect for the player that can take a beating and
come back inspired to take on new challenges, occasionally becoming just a bit
stronger through crystal upgrades and coursework.
Our Darker Purpose is fast-paced
life-and-death frolic and provides many hours of delightfully difficult
gameplay. An unforgiving game is nothing new, but the clever setting combined
with the challenge and customization makes this title shine within its own
Email the author Daniel Tack, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.