The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos Review
Not all dungeon crawlers have to be a dark and grim experience. Here, we have Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk, a lighthearted tactical RPG that challenges you to lead a band of unqualified adventurers to a Pyrrhic victory. Your adventurer-like mission? Delve deep into the dungeon’s carcass and retrieve from within the twelfth statuette of … well, I don’t know, and neither does your party, either; they’re just in it for the gold. So strap on in, dear reader, and let us explore how this seemingly simple TRPG actually has a surprising amount of depth to it.
A tale of seven dunderheads
At the game’s start, you got seven potentially likeable fantasy archetypes at your disposal. They’re not exactly charming. or eloquent. Or intelligent. But, they got character, more than what you’d expect from a dungeon crawler. Ranging from a narcissistic Ranger to a dim-witted Ogre, the personalities of your motley crew bumps heads with each other, but each of them are willing to put aside their differences for the sake of profiting off of their adventure together.
Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is very much a story-based game. During your crawl around the dungeon, you’ll find many encounters and events that either introduce a new quest or mechanic, a conflict to progress the plot, or act as a prelude to a battle. In each of these situations, your party will take time to engage in banter with each other. To be honest, the humor can be a huge hit or miss. Sometimes, it’s pretty funny to hear the witty remarks your Thief may make. Other times, it’s jarring to hear your high-pitched Elf say something incredibly asinine for the sake of being the dumb one of the party. Nevertheless, there is plenty of dialogue and quests that revolve around the members of your merry band.
The nitty gritty
Now that’s the story, morning glory. So what happens when you’re frolicking through the dungeon and you get into an encounter? Well, it’s time to duel! You start off in a deployment phase where you can plan your initial formation before the turn system begins. Every turn, you have two action points: one for an action, and one for movement. Actions include attacking, going into defensive mode, and using an ability like a special attack or an AoE buff. You can do an action or move in any order, but your turn ends once you either spend both action points or opt to skip the turn.
In terms of mechanics the game is actually surprisingly solid in that department. You got your standard cover system, attacks of opportunity, and flanking bonuses, but you also have some atypical mechanics like being able to revive mid-combat a downed party member, sustaining injuries that will get worse if not healed in time (along with worse debuffs), and the Randomia gauge. With the Randomia gauge, every unlucky failure like missing an attack will build up toward special powers, so while it still sucks to have an action fail when it had a 90% chance of success, you may now use your Randomia influence to gain another action point or grant a sizeable precision boost to everyone in range of your character.
Each of your party members, of course, have special abilities of their own, based on their profession. Your Thief is frail, but if you manage to flank an enemy, his sneaky strike ability grants a 200% damage boost to the unlucky fool who didn’t see it coming. Your Barbarian isn’t very agile, but his steel barrage ability swings his greatsword in an arc, dealing massive damage to anyone in front of him, though you’ll soon find his precision to be lacking.
While your party members may be strong on their own, it’s way better to have them work together. One of the most important stats to keep in mind for a character is their precision, which usually starts off low. While increasing the agility attribute is a surefire way to permanently improve your precision, the best way to do it is during combat with the support mechanic. Every ally oriented toward an enemy in front of them grants a 5% bonus to your attacking character’s precision. And, with the charisma attribute, you can improve the bonus received by 2% per point, meaning that your highly inaccurate ogre can finally stop whiffing his melee attacks.
Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is actually an adaptation of a French audio comedy under the same name, which explains the humor and the oddball characters. For an adaptation, it’s really not bad. It’s not an absolutely amazing game, but the combat is fleshed out and enjoyable, and the satirical takes on dungeon RPGs are often ridiculous but comical, even if they did try too hard at humor at times. If you’re looking for a game that meets your tactical RPG quota yet has a ton of soul put into it, here you go. Just keep in mind that this isn’t exactly a kid-friendly game, given the sailor mouths.
The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos can be purchased from Steam.