Dungeons never really conjure up the most pleasant of images, do they?
You would never tag along with a guy who asks you to come down to their dungeon for a cup of tea and some cake, and would never go about buying a house to only tell the estate agent that you’ll have to pull out of your dream home because it didn’t have a dark dungeon. The connotations are terrible and with Korgan I’m afraid to say the dungeon world is still as bad a place as it’s ever been. But with some powerful magic, archery and axe play on display, could it actually turn out to be a fun place to hang out?
Korgan is an episodic dungeon-crawler, one that has a story that isn’t really the focal point of this hack and slash adventure. I will however try to tell you the tale and set the scene.
In ancient times, a war between the humans ended in a magical apocalypse. The result was the near extinction of the human race. Now, even orcs, kobolds, and goblins are seen as nobler than the lowly humans and Krogeth Kane, a warlock from a blood-stained dark cult, wants to bring about the second apocalypse and return humanity to its former glory. It is up to you – in the guise of three warriors – a Mage, a Dwarven Warrior and a Rogue Archer – to go into the dungeon and end the apocalypse.
So there you have it. But how does Korgan play?
Well, taking in the action as a single player ensures that you can switch between your characters in real time, facing down against a variety of different enemies and obstacles. Each character has their own abilities, strengths, and weakness and whilst the Warrior has great strength and defensive skills, the Mage is fast, quick and able to shoot magical fireballs or freeze the enemy, you’ll quickly discover that it is the Archer who can fire from distance with arrows, or happily disarm traps with ease. You can combine their abilities too: freeze an enemy with the Mage, then swiftly switch to the Warrior and finish him with brute force… or perhaps shoot him from a safe distance with the Archer. The choices in combat are pretty much up to you.
It’s not just about fighting though and as you move through the different environments and maps, you’ll find main and secondary quests to complete. These might come in the form of collecting numerous keys, hunting down sets of magical bones or opening chests… you know the drill. But you’ll find that you are up against a multitude of traps and a host of ghouls, monsters and magical nightmares. Thankfully though, a light and heavy attack for each of the main characters comes in handy, and a special attack is actionable when your power gauge hits its limits.
Killing things and exploring chests allow you the chance to stumble upon loot, all sorts of weapon upgrades and magical defensive armour, rings, and talismans. As you level up, you gain new skills to use across all three characters – you’ll need to be frugal on how you use them, deciding carefully which of your team gets the upgraded goodies, because resources are rare. You’ll need to think about it too because when you die, and unfortunately, you will die whether that be on your way to, or during the end of stage boss battles, you get transported back to start of the level.
The Korgan gameplay itself is basic, and there is nothing overly original to be had in the playing style; you’ve most probably seen all this a hundred times before. It uses the same template from a host of other games, but it’s all done rather well, with your dungeon exploring becoming very addictive. Even then though, with few original ideas, the good news is that the prologue of Korgan is free, before the guys at Codestalkers ask you to pay for the episodic chapters after that.
Away from the gameplay and you’ll find that the visuals are fairly basic affairs, with its top-down look ensuring that it feels like a game from years gone by. It’s decent enough though and the character design is like something out of a 1970s Conan the Barbarian graphic novel. The audio effects meanwhile are just about okay, but far from spectacular.
Korgan is a throwback to another time of gaming, with its instantly addictive hack and slash dungeon crawling gameplay. The visuals and sounds are basic, but underneath is a beating heart with a very dependable bit of game design that warrants a play. With the bonus being that the prologue is free, you can give it a go without losing any of your hard earned bucks, gaining plenty of achievements in the process. From there, you never know how things will unfold – you may actually enjoy what Korgan brings and then plump in to the rest of this episodic crawler.
In conclusion, I’ve discovered that dungeons are still a place for the bad and horrific, but they can also be a hell of a lot of fun as well.