Published on October 30th, 2013 | by Kristian Ivanov0
Dungeon Hunter 4 Review
Dungeon Hunter is a long running series of RPG games. The first two installments are widely known as one of the best of their kind on Android, while the third one took a more controversial step by moving away from the dungeon crawling to simple arena-based combat. While it’s hard to say if that was a positive move or not is hard to say, now we have Dungeon Hunter 4, which goes back to the series’ original formula…so let’s have a look and see what it offers.
As I mentioned before, the game goes back to what made the series great – classic RPG action. The idea is to create a character and explore dungeons and locations while defeating enemies, improving your stats and equipment and occasionally doing side missions for the helpless NPCs. While in the previous games we had three classes to choose from, in Dungeon Hunter 4 we have a choice of four classes and even a male or female appearance:
- Battleworn – The first melee class. Basically meant to be a tank that can damage as many opponents as possible.
- Blademaster – The second melee class. His deal is that he does high damage but focused on a single opponent. Not very good for tanking.
- Warmage – The first ranged class. Not much can be said, just your average spell caster.
- Sentinel – The second ranged class. An archer…that’s about it.
One thing I really like is that they didn’t use the generic RPG names like “warrior” or “mage”. Stylized names are always something I appreciate in games. But unfortunately, I have to say that the actual difference between the characters is fairly low. The skills they use are pretty much the same thing and in some cases they’re identical and even in the same order, so we end-up with two hard hitting characters (one melee and one ranged) and two mass-hitting characters (again, one melee and one ranged). The ranged ones can obviously tank much less but they also have a dodge skill to help out with the tough situations, which trust me, there are plenty (I’ll go into that later).
Moving on, the item system is also changed from Dungeon Hunter 3. Now we have the random-item generation with drops from enemies, but also accompanied with upgrades and charm-enhancements. This adds a nice flow to the game where you can customize your gear a bit instead of relying on static stats and pray that you find something better. You can also craft weapons and armor from materials, which gives you even nicer ones, though the materials are hard to get so you should think well before crafting one.
Another nice addition to the game is the option to play a mission in multiplayer mode, which makes things pretty interesting if you have friends around. But unlike Dungeon Hunter 2, here you don’t need to start a new game to play in multiplayer, you can switch at will.
The game’s graphics seem to be on the same level as Dungeon Hunter 3, though the characters and enemies look more detailed. Everything looks pretty good especially in comparison to the other RPGs on the market, and the whole world design has the familiar feel of the second game which we all loved. However, here I need to address my personal experience on my Galaxy S2. The game suffers from highly noticeable over-brightness. This seems to be an issue specifically with Gameloft’s new engine. The framerate is just fine and there are no crashes, but the game is just too bright if you put it next to a Nexus 7 (2012). Also in the latest version (1.2.0), for some reason all shadows disappeared, regardless what graphics setting you’re using, which i find really weird since they were present in all previous versions. Other than that, the only other bug I was able to find was that the optional quests keep resetting every time you resume your game, or when you die and re-spawn. I’ve completed the same quest over 10 times, and it just kept reappearing.
Sound-wise, the game seems to be just fine. The music is nice for an RPG game and adds to the nice feel when you’re out of combat around the fields or in the town. The effect sounds are also ok, though they were just fine back in Dungeon Hunter 3 so this should come as no surprise. Voice acting was pretty good though. Some characters sound really good, while others (I believe deliberately) sound just hilarious. An example of that can be found near the end of the first area before you enter the town. Nothing special, but works well enough in my eyes.
There are many more design decisions I want to mention for that we need to head to the next section of this review.
Here is where the real problems begin. The game is an example how a good game can be held down so much because of bad monetization. It’s a free game, I expected to be spammed with IAPs and at first, it all seemed pretty nice. The IAPs seemed to be speed-ups, early unlocks and cosmetic stuff…or some over-powered items, which didn’t seem useful…but after a while, roughly around the point where I was level 15, the game got insanely hard and essentially screamed “spend money on me or forget about it”. I tried all classes but decided to go with Battleworn since it was shown as the most tank’y character. At first you just feel really powerful, everything you touch just dies…but that quickly changes and now I reached a point where I’m stuck in an area that is impossible to progress, and here’s why (no particular order):
- 20 inventory slots – this would be perfect, except the part where charms take up inventory space. You have 5 equipment slots so that leaves you with 15 free ones for loot. I not have 28 slots after spending some gems to increase it, and I have to say even that is low seeing the amount of charms I carry. You can merge charms to create a more powerful one, but you can’t afford to keep more than 1 charm per type making you have to guess what you’ll really need and if you have multiple levels of the same charm, that makes it even harder. Also if you used a charm in a weapon, you can’t remove it alone later, you have to remove all charms, meaning your fully upgraded sword will require 3 free slots to disenchant. Not
- HP potions – you get 3. If you use one, you’ll have to wait two hours or buy more with gems. Well, I’m at a graveyard, with a fully upgraded armor, enchanted with high-level charms and I can’t reach the exit point with the three potions, level 4 healing spirit and waiting between fights for my HP to recover. If the limit was at least 7, it might be helpful but with 3, there’s just no way you can survive without a week’s worth of grinding before attempting a dungeon.
- Enemies are too powerful – I’m level 18 and I get attacked b 5-10 level 18 hobgoblins…and a single group of them is enough to drain 90% of my HP bar. As I mentioned before, I use a tank character with fully upgraded armor.
- Insane price-scaling – my current sword, which is pretty nice, took 7000 gold per upgrade. The boots I crafted take 33000 for the first level and 50000 for the second. Per dungeon you can get roughly 2000 if you’re lucky with drops.
Each of these problems alone is no big deal, but when you add all of them on the same place you get the following mix: you need a lot of gold to upgrade your items, but your inventory will be always full so you’ll lose gold and enchantments just to keep picking up drops, then you’ll be faced with high-damaging enemy groups with armor that barely does anything because you can’t afford the upgrades, and you won’t be able to heal yourself since every 3 potions you use you’ll have to wait two hours or pay 20 gems per potion, making a “free play” impossible. The only thing I could think of doing was to just run through all enemies to the end-point, but then I had to clear a dungeon, which as expected I had no chance to do. Even when I asked a friend (level 17 also Battleworn) to help me with the dungeon we weren’t able to beat it. There are free gem offers but most of them (at least in my region) involve buying a game or an app, which kind’a defeats the purpose.
I feel really bad saying this but, I can’t say this is a good game…but for all the wrong reasons. I’ll honestly go ahead and say Dungeon Hunter 3 is better. The game itself is great but someone made the decision to force IAPs so hard it just went over-board. I like how the game looks and how it feels, but when I can’t progress at all without tons of grinding every time I reach a dungeon, there’s just something wrong here. I love the Dungeon Hunter series, and I’m really happy that Gameloft keeps the series alive, but unless you have disposable income, you probably won’t enjoy this game much. I really hope to see some of that changed in a future update.
Summary: One of the best RPG game on the market, held down by required in-app purchases at every turn.