In the middle of of downloading a lengthy Windows update a few days ago, I turned on my Switch to kill some time while waiting, and poked around at the weekly sale in the eShop. There was a lot of stuff there as usual, but I decided to spend about a buck fifty on a game called Diabolic (normally $4.99) from indie developer MyDreamForever and ported/published by Drageus Games. While I wasn’t expecting much and got what I paid for, the game still had a certain… let’s just say, charm in its simplicity that made it a pretty decent time killer. It’s not a perfect game by far, but that long Windows update download was forgotten for as long as I played.
Dirt simple, and light on exposition, Diabolic is sort of a half Diablo/half Gauntlet hybrid with none of the grit and longevity of either where you play a knight setting out slay the evil dragon boss at the end of the 10-level game while killing a load of enemies on the way to that confrontation. That’s pretty much it in the way of story save for some optional side quests that net you coins and extra items. Things are pretty basic here, but I rather liked the straightforwardness of the time-sink while it lasted. Sometimes, you just want something that doesn’t require a lot of thought or learning of arcane commands and this game nails its pure gameplay simplicity down pat.
Thanks, Drageus Games!)
Basically, as you traverse the maps you’ll encounter waves of enemies and kill them with your trusty sword swing, a bow and arrow (which can run out of arrows if you’re constantly shooting), or whatever magic you’ve equipped. You can slice at some foliage and storage crates to get coins and healing items and the game very nicely lets items sit around in a level until you need them or travel to a new level. Most enemies will gang up on you, Gauntlet-style if you let them, and like that game, monster generators appear and need to be destroyed. There are keys to gather that allow access to a few different areas and overall, the rustic pixel art style worked for my often varied tastes. If you’re really in need of some sort of cheat, you can farm levels you’ve played and spend all that earned coin on upgrading and making yourself almost unstoppable.
Some maps can be annoying though. The maze section in one late level will have you stuck on corners and walls much like Milo’s Quest does, an otherwise simple and decent kid’s game that has frustrating collision detection problems where you need to be perfectly lined up with anything you want to interact with. Dying in a mission sets you back to a total replay of a map, but enemy AI tends to be easy to deal with if you funnel them into a spot and keep your mana from running out by burst-frying many foes at a time. Ranged enemies and some bosses take a bit more work, but save for the last boss, you should (should you pick this up) have not too much trouble here.
The weird choice of calming but a tiny bit haunting piano tunes for the soundtrack give the impression that someone’s relative or friend got the chance to show off some skills, or the developer happens to play piano on the side when not making so-so homage games that happen to be pleasantly forgettable after a day of play. Okay, so it’s more closer to Hydlide (and less of a past classic than that used to be) than a Diablo/Gauntlet clone, but Diabolic reminded me of simpler times with its pixel art looks and ganeplay that doesn’t require a load of fuss and tutorials to play. It’s not a 100% great game, no it’s not. But it was good enough to keep me occupied while it lasted and that’s okay by me.
Score: D (65%)