DoM2: Time of Shadows Review
Since many major publications will almost certainly pass this over, I am taking a small amount of time to post what I feel is an objective opinion of a product I truly enjoy. I have over 25 years of gaming experience, and 5 working as a designer in the industry itself. The following is only my personal point of view, published to this forum in attempt to better inform prospective consumers.
DoM2 has taken a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the original game. Unfortunately, there seems to be a misunderstanding as to the nature of what might have needed refinement. While there are nominal graphical improvements and some good creature designs, the overall presentation is very lackluster. The basic game mechanics are deeply flawed (no less than 1/3 of the monsters I have encountered have been fatally stuck within terrain objects, or simply seem to forget that I am there killing them), though they can offer enjoyment at times. Overall, this game shows heart and personality, with almost no care given to refinement. This would have been an exceptional alpha build. As a release, 29.99 is very steep when considering the overall lack of quality.
Endlessly cloned NPCs with no visible variation meander aimlessly in cookie cutter environs with unnatural lighting, repeating the same couple of phrases over and over. Mysteriously, all of them clog the minimap with the text of their names, though it is of no apparent use. Monsters range from the creative to almost indistinguishable humanoid blobs of bad texture work. Spell effects are the best element offered, but they seem to vary between sparse and extremely overdone (ice ball versus air shield, for instance).
The gameplay is reasonably compelling, and indie-game aficionados will find plenty to love. Poor localization is almost endearing for its shoddy vocals, though it might have been better covered in a title willing to take itself less seriously.
The magic system is very creative, though the touted spells are clogged with passive effects, masteries, and augmentations that are very specific. All told, there is far less on offer than you'd think when you first sit down.
Visible character changes based on actions are intriguing, but the idea is hampered by a lack of interesting evolution or advancement. Things just sort of 'pop' on or off, sometimes by actions that seem relatively nominal.
Frankly, the game is broken in a multitude of ways. Your enjoyment of the title hinges specifically on your ability to walk a minefield of gamebreaking bugs and incomplete coding to enjoy the peculiar charisma on offer.
Simple. Passable. Lifeless. Not much more to see here, folks.
Good ideas, poorly executed. At $29.99, this nearly falls under 'buyer beware' classification. Here's the gist: If you can enjoy the creativity and emergent gameplay concepts in "Din's Curse" or its predecessor, you'll find the hidden appeal in this bargain-bin destined alpha release of what could have been a truly compelling title.
Don't get me wrong, I /enjoy/ playing this game, but I can't recommend it with any sort of objective honesty. The general consumer will almost certainly find more frustration than entertainment, but the devoted dungeon-crawler may find enough originality on offer to hold their attention through the lackluster campaign.
Overall: 4/10 (+3 if you're a hardcore hack-n-slasher, and fan of games like Din's Curse)