A very strong contender for the hotly contested “Longest Name in Video Gaming” award for 2021, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – Chicken Edition is another in the already heaving turn-based tactical RPG genre on the Xbox. Having garnered high praise on the PC when it was released last year, it’s now our turn to give this title (I’m not paid by the word, so I will try to avoid typing the name of the game where I can) from Artefacts Studio a whirl. Being well-versed in the ways of such games, I decided to tag along with the party and see what is what.
What I didn’t know before doing my research for this review is that the source material for The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos – Chicken Edition is apparently an audio comedy series by a French author called John Lang. It seems that the series started as a parody of role playing games and heroic fantasy tropes, but his creation, the Naheulbeuk universe, is now a game. It’s good to see that the humour has very much been retained.
We take control of a motley crew of adventurers, who have no names, only titles. As such, expect to see the characters referring to each other as “The Dwarf” or “The Elf”, rather than Dave and Erica, for instance. We have seven characters at our disposal: the Ranger, The Elf, The Dwarf, The Ogre, The Wizard, The Thief and The Barbarian. The latter of these made me laugh a lot, having grown up reading the Conan series of books, as he is quite often heard muttering things like “Crom not need bandage!” and so on.
Each of these characters, and the others that can be recruited (no spoilers here, however), have a proper RPG-style skill tree to invest their points into when they level up. There are two sections of skills, each with their own separate points: Passive and Active skills. Passive skills don’t require you to do anything, as the name implies, but they give various buffs to your characters. Some of the interesting ones give buffs if certain characters stand near each other, such as The Dwarf, who doesn’t like Elves, who gets a buff to attack as he gets more annoyed by being in her vicinity.
Active skills however are different attacks and abilities that your characters can use in battle. These range from the chance to buff the party in the case of The Ranger, to healing and Area of Effect spells for The Wizard. The way you choose to level up the party does have quite an effect on their combat effectiveness, and playing to each class’s strengths will certainly provide dividends.
The way that The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos – Chicken Edition is presented is also a joy to behold. The characters we control are all lovingly designed, with personality bursting out of their sprites, and distinct appearances and voices. Yes, the majority of the NPCs and all of the party are very well-voiced, with some very good acting on display. The Elf in particular would not be out of place in Legally Blonde films, for example, while The Dwarf is surly and short, in manner and demeanour as well as physically!
Which character you have as the head of the party and therefore under your direct control also makes a difference. The Thief, for example, can see hidden traps and disarm them, which is better than the whole party traipsing through the trap and being injured, usually just before a big fight!
This leads me neatly onto the combat sections of the game. ”How do the fights play out?” I hear you ask, and I answer thusly: like all the other turn-based tactical RPGs you’ve ever seen.
Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, eh?
At the start of combat, the floor is overlaid with a series of squares in a grid pattern, and you are invited to place your characters in a starting grid. It’s worth noting at this point that you can delve into your inventory and heal people, and even change their equipment to make sure they are in the best shape to actually do some fighting. From then on, it’s pretty much business as usual: you can move, then attack, or attack and then move, or even sprint and cover more ground, at the expense of being able to do anything at the end of the movement phase.
The characters have various attacks as well; regular that can be used every turn, or special attacks that have a cooldown, such as The Ogre’s Belly Slam or The Elf’s Ricochet Shot. A neat addition is the addition of a bar that fills as your characters have bad luck, and with a critical failure from The Barbarian involving him hitting himself in the face with his own sword, this bar can turn the tide of battle if your luck isn’t in.
In all, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos – Chicken Edition is hugely enjoyable. But obviously there are little niggles, but thankfully only one major one really – the menu system. Having been designed with a mouse in mind it isn’t the easiest thing to navigate. Having to press Y to go from the inventory to the equipment of the character on the screen is a bit jarring, especially as they are on the same screen, just in different halves. Yet other than that little issue, and after a while you do get used to it, the rest of the game has been a pleasure to play.
The humour, both in character design and the dialogue, is the stand-out winner here with The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos – Chicken Edition, and the rest of it is swept along nicely by the energy these factors bring. The story is good in its own right, but it is brought to life by the silly squabbles amongst the party. All in all, you can’t go wrong with The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos – Chicken Edition on Xbox.
Take in the wordy The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – Chicken Edition on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One today!