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Depth of Peril preview

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Depth of Peril preview

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Sat 30 June 2007, 03:53:14

Tags: Depths of Peril

Before we start: I showed this preview to Steven Peeler, an industry veteran and Depth of Peril's lead designer. I included some of his comments in the preview to give our readers the full picture. Enjoy! ... Depth of Peril is an indie action RPG with a strategy twist. I'd describe the gameplay as 80% of Diablo 2-like combat plus 10% of Civilization-like faction diplomacy plus 10% of emergent-like gameplay where the world reacts to your actions or lack thereof. Not a bad combination, that's for sure. Here is the basic overview: you go and fight monsters, gaining loot and experience in randomly generated areas. Now, here's the twist, you are not the only hero in this land of the brave. Other heroes, representing local factions called covenants, do the same "hero" thing - fight monsters, gaining loot and experience. Unfortunately, the town seems to be too small for all of you, and as C. McLeod once said "There can be only one!", so it's either you or them. You can use basic diplomacy to keep someone off your back for a while and/or make offensive/defensive alliances. The game is over when your covenant's lifestone is destroyed or when you destroy other covenants' lifestones. Naturally, the lifestones are well protected by hired monsters, NPCs, and heroes, so attacking a lifestones is like attacking an enemy base in an RTS game: come prepared and expect a lot of resistance and casualties. Let's take a closer look now: 1. The Kill Da Monsters aspect. The character system seems to be pretty good and very detailed, offering and supporting different builds. Whereas in Diablo 2 all skills cost a single skill point, but most skills have character level requirements, Depth of Peril opens all skills, but the cost of the skills vary from one to eight skill points. So, you can either bump up cheaper (but still effective) skills or save the points for the really expensive ones. I certainly prefer such an approach as it removes artificial restrictions and lets you decide what you want to do. Warriors build up rage by attacking enemies and then unleashing special attacks. If you have no rage, you can't use the attacks. I can understand why Steven thought it would be a good idea in theory, but in reality it means that most of the time you just watch your character fighting some monsters without much input from you. The "damage per second" adds finishing touches to this picture.

Steven: Only the warrior uses rage. The rogue has momentum, the priest has faith, and the mage has mana. All 4 of them work differently. Momentum and rage start at zero and go up based on different things while mana and faith start full. There are other differences also, of course. This does mean that the mage and priest don't have to wait. They can burn through their power at the very beginning of a fight. Right now I do think the warrior and rogues power (rage/momentum) goes up too slowly and that is what you are seeing. This will be improved. Actually, I'll probably fix it before you put up the preview :) The goal is that each class plays as differently as possible, so that playing with a new character feels fresh and new. It's basically just another of the many things to try to make each class as unique.

There are plenty of different items to decorate your character with and the game offers common, magic, rare, unique, and set items, which is a standard fare these days. Overall, if you like Diablo 2 / Dungeon Siege 2 gameplay aspects, I'm pretty sure that you would enjoy what Depth of Peril has to offer in this department. 2. The Kill Da Covenant aspect. To be honest, I expected more. I think what we have is a missed opportunity. The game could have been so much more if the factions played a larger role in the game. The covenant gameplay aspect revolves around eliminating other factions before they can eliminate you. You use diplomacy to avoid being attacked too early or, basically, to use covenant A's muscle to help you eliminate covenant B. Forming long-term relationships kinda goes against what the game is all about. So, when you feel that you are ready, you declare war on some poor bastard (covenant) and attack his lifestone. At this point the hero of that covenant teleports back and, aided by the bought guards and recruited NPCs, starts kicking your ass. You die, click "resurrect", and run back to that covenant's house and continue to attack the lifestone. If you attack and kill the hero, he's quickly resurrected and continues to attack you. Being resurrected does reduce HPs of your lifestone a bit. Also, the resurrection speed is directly related to the lifestone's HP. In other words, the more damaged a lifestone is, the longer it takes for it to resurrect the hero, which is a nice tactical touch. Other covenants can beat you in some quests and steal the victory (and valuable XPs), but since there is no shortage of quests and monsters to kill... Quests do give you a lot more experience than killing monsters does though, so doing quests could be a quick way to level up and gain some advantage over other covenants. Options to improve the town and the covenant halls based on your actions, and to team up with the other covenants protecting the town from evil and liberating lands, beg to be there. I can only hope that Steven will spend his remaining development time improving this aspect of the game.

Steven: I just thought of a way I might be able to do #4 [the last option] fairly easily.

Gotta love indie game developers. 3. The Emergent Gameplay aspect. Every now and then monsters "come to town" and attack NPCs. Usually that's the direct result of you failing to keep the lands safe and to deal with uprisings in a timely manner. Sometimes the NPCs (traders and quest-givers) die. Unfortunately death is not a serious business in Jorvik and the NPCs refuse to stay dead for long. While it may cause you some inconvenience, it's not something that will seriously effect you. Once again, it's a good, but underdeveloped idea. Come on, Steven, don't be afraid to tell a player: "You fucked up, you little shit! I don't care that you're 12. Look, half of the motherfucking town is gone and it aint coming back!".

Steven: On the NPCs dying part, I recently changed how they are resurrected. It used to be much more painful and now it is only a slight slap on the wrist. I'm slowly moving it back towards being a meaningful consequence. They will still resurrect but it will take longer. Now that you brought it up, I might tie this to some of the difficulty stuff, so easy mode might be like it is now, but in hard mode they might stay dead a long time.

Other notable examples are thieves that come to steal vendors and your covenants' items, assassins that kill NPCs and poison supplies, scouts that can kidnap NPCs or lead in attacks, etc. Again, great ideas that definitely go into the right direction, but more should and could be done with them. And in conclusion: It's a good game that shows both skills and desire to try new things and to play with new concepts. That alone should be enough for you to give Depth of Peril a try. It's a more enjoyable game than Dungeon Siege 2, so if action RPGs are your cup of tea, give it a try when the demo is out. Anyway, now that we are done with the preview, I invite you to follow adventures of Sexy, the dashing rogue lady of the feared Skullz covenant.

The game offers you 4 classes, 2 male (warrior, mage) and 2 female (rogue, priest). Sexy is a rogue - "a stealthy, deadly melee fighter". Once you picked a class (or an existing character), you are given an option to set up the difficulty. Welcome to the town of Jorvik.That's your new home. The red thing is your covenant's lifestone. It can heal you and it can also be destroyed. When it's destroyed, the game is over for you so buy some creatures to guard it when you have a chance. You can also see your stats, including promising DPS output - damage per second. To the right is the list of the covenants and their power. As you can see the Skullz is a feared and respected covenant that shouldn't be fucked with. Sexy has just received an important quest to equip her weapon, so let's hope that she will succeed against all odds. These are the skills that Sexy can use to defeat her numerous enemies. Let's see what the town looks like. Something tells me that these dudes with question marks would really like to talk to Sexy. Call it a hunch. Also, Sexy has successfully solved the "equip your weapon", "hotkey a skill", and "click on every item in your house" quests, which pushed the Skullz a bit higher on the corporate ladder. Yay! Sexy got some quests. Someone must kill Turen, an animated corpse, who happened to be the 4th in command of the "evil army" (The evil army? Steven, you have got to be kidding. I know you can do better, and I demand that you do so as soon as possible). Also, the Grimalkin forest "has gotten too dangerous" and killing exactly 21 monsters will make this lovely place less dangerous. Also, three skeleton bowmen must die, and something needs to be done about a dread dog uprising. Well, Sexy hates dogs - she is a cat person, and she also hates skeleton bowmen and monsters in general. Quests accepted!
Steven: You don't like my awesome quest text? How dare you :) Actually I'm sorry that I have subjected you to it. :) It is all temporary and written by me and only meant to be placeholder text. ... BTW, Turen is a zombie that broke free of his master's control (the necromancer Ciglio) and betrayed him. Turen is fairly unique because zombies almost never have the willpower to break free of a necromancer and when they do manage it, they usually don't want to continue to live as a zombie. Turen, on the other hand, loves being undead and the killing that tends to come with it and obviously has great willpower. My point being, Turen has a lot more real story behind him then "he's 4th in command of the evil army" and no you should never see such a crappy term in the game.
Sexy is trying to make a new friend. That will improve the Skullz damage-per-second ratio, but that's boring, so let's role-play and pretend that Sexy is a lesbian. Her playmate is playing hard to get and states that she will go with whoever kills three skeletons in the next 6:55 minutes. Let's hope that other covenants won't beat us. Time to kick some ass. Combat is chaotic and fast. The standard action RPG goodness. To offset all that action the game throws some text at you every now and then. There are books, and you can select any monster, click H, and read some info. While it's kinda a nice touch, I think it's a pointless feature. Hack-n-slash action RPGs and rich background stories don't tend to work well together. When one plays a game to kill stuff, level up and kill even more stuff, reading is a distraction. What's that? Someone recognized that the Skullz is a power to be reckoned with and offered Sexy a gift: 2 crystals. Sexy has no idea what crystals are or for, but she's a woman and thus gladly accepts all shiny stuff. Some assholes called Keepers of the Faith demand a tribute: 24 crystals. Well, Sexy's strong religious beliefs don't approve of giving crystals away, so the answer is "Fuck off!". The Keepers of the Faith are not impressed. They are angry. Sexy is angry too, so we are kinda even. It's time to take a look at that whole diplomacy thing. A bit confusing. Influence? Power? Taxes? Let's see what we can do... Lotsa treaties. The Shining Blades can't wait to make a deal... How about a mutual protection pact? Sexy can use a friend. Huh? This deal is as ugly as a muddy styrac? Must be a mudcrab reference. Look what Sexy has found! A rare short sword and a set item! And now the moment we've all been waiting for! A daring raid! Only one covenant sucks more than the feared Skullz, so Sexy decided to take advantage of that fact. Sexy and Fast, her playmate of the year, dragged their asses to that house, waited until the owner went adventuring, and firmly declared war on terror and shit. The owner catapulted back and in less than 10 seconds, Sexy and Fast were killed with extreme prejudice. Some people you just can't reason with...

I'm sure that Sexy will eventually achieve the much coveted world dominance. Let's wish her luck and thank Steven for the preview copy and being very open to our suggestions.


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