The first thing we learned about Dungeon Hunter, the upcoming RPG from Gameloft, is that “it’s a Diablo game.” Please, say no more! Ok, say a little more.
Diablo, the hackiest of the hack-and-slash RPG epics, had dozens of hours of gameplay, intensely deep customization, and addictive loot-gathering. When it comes out, Dungeon Hunter may have a dozen hours of gameplay, moderately deep customization, and loot of some kind. The degree to which it becomes utterly addicting remains to be seen.
While a comparison to Diablo is appropriate, we thought this game looked a lot like Hero of Sparta with RPG elements. Like Hero of Sparta, your character in Dungeon Hunter has one attack button, but in Dungeon Hunter you can also fire off magical spells when your mana meter has enough juice. The three different character types, Knight, Rogue, and Mage, all start out with different magical attacks and basic weapons. You can also select different fairies with elemental affinities to help you fight off enemies.
When the game begins, your character snaps awake’¦ in his tomb. You’ve been brought back to life for a higher purpose: to gain experience points and collect a bunch of gold. Actually, we didn’t get too involved in the plot on this first play-through. We were too eager to get into the hacky-slashy.
The controls are simple enough. You can move using an analog stick, and attack or interact with buttons on the right side of the screen. In the immediate vicinity of your tomb, you’ll find a chest filled with gold, which pops out and flies onto the ground in a very familiar fashion.
Within seconds of waking up, your hero is confronted by a gang of skeleton warriors, who we handily beat after a few seconds of button mashing. Unlike in an action game like Hero of Sparta, not every hit will cause damage to enemies’” it depends on your level and stats. Tapping the health bar at the top opens your character menu, where you can put on new gear (which doesn’t change your appearance, it seems, just your stats) and spend ability points.
In these first few minutes in the catacombs, your character meets another warrior who will fight the skeletons with you. This potential for story-based assistance made us hopeful, but Dungeon Hunter doesn’t give you the ability to pay for companions to help you with quests, like in similar RPGs on the PC.
After beating the skeletons and a few larger baddies, we emerged into the blinding sunlight just long enough to look at an expansive overworld map, explore a nearby village, talk to the village elder’¦ and then head back into the catacombs for our first paid quest.
Dungeon Hunter is a Diablo clone, all right, and it looks much, much better than other attempts to recapture the same magic on iPhone. If the full storyline, variety of quests, and unique locations are as good as the brief experience we had in our hands-on time, this could definitely be a winner. We know Gameloft can nail the surface aspects of a game, like the concept, graphics, and animation, but we still don’t know if Dungeon Hunter will have the depth to make it truly worthy of comparison to Diablo.