Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

Dungeon Encounter: Square Enix’s latest RPG celebrates Old School’s Active Time Battle

Dungeon Encounters is directed by Hiroyuki Ito, who was involved in creating titles for FINAL FANTASY IV, V, XII, and Tactics. Not only was he famous for the design of the battle system, but he was told that it was the system above all, so I started playing and sweating a little, so of course I prepared to do a lot of things. on board. You may want to know that Cattle Call, known for the Metal Max series and The Legend of Legacy, was responsible for its development.

It’s not a game with rich visuals and effects, or a deep and engaging story, but a turn-based, number-focused, minimalist RPG of some sort. IGN Japan had the opportunity to give it a try before it was released, so here’s our first impression.

Screenshot of dungeon encounter

This dungeon crawler RPG includes forming a party of up to 4 characters and digging into the depths of a board game style square grid map. The dungeon is divided into squares, but you can focus on exploring the entire map and fighting without worrying about systems such as stamina or hunger. As you progress through the floor, the map gets bigger and your enemies get tougher.

Stepping on one of the numbered squares found along the map will trigger either a battle or an event. Think of these numbers as a substitute for enemy symbols and treasure chests. Black numbers represent battles and white numbers lead to events. It looks like an ominous version of the snake and the ladder.

Despite the board game-like layout, these are not linear dungeons and the map contains many branch paths.

Despite the board game-like layout, these are not linear dungeons and the map contains many branch paths.

The game’s simple combat system features bars that fill up according to the speed of each ally and enemy character. When the bar is full, the character is ready to act. Some may know this as an active battle system that is part of FINAL FANTASY starting with FFIV. Attribute-based weaknesses and resource management for powerful attack or healing techniques and spells are common in RPG battle systems, but this game uses no attributes, no MPs, and no items! But what you find is a simple yet deep slug fest.

What makes the battle in this game stand out are the three values ‚Äč‚Äčthat both enemies and allies have. Physical defense (shield that absorbs physical damage), magic defense (shield that absorbs magic damage), HP (meaning defeat, of course) when allies or enemies reach zero.

Physical and magical defense statistics are relatively popular in RPGs, but in dungeon encounters they act as a damage shield instead of HP. In other words, when you take physical damage from a sword and bow, your physical defense first diminishes, and HP begins to take damage only when that defense reaches zero. The same applies to magic damage, so you need to scrape the enemy’s magic first. Defend if you want to defeat them with magic damage. Moreover, in most cases, excessive damage will not be carried over. Even if the enemy’s physical defense is 1 and HP is 1, even if it is a physical attack with 200 damage, you need to attack twice to defeat the enemy.

Each character has a maximum of two types of attacks, further complicating battle decisions. Physical attacks and magic attacks have different levels of effect for each enemy, so you need to consider the balance of the party’s attacks. Also, MPs may not exist in this game, but with multi-target attacks and hard-to-use random damage attacks, each simple choice must be made carefully.

While playing, it seemed like a pretty good result at a character party with one physical attack and one magic attack, but it felt like a pretty basic strategy that everyone could come up with. It’s as effective as advancing the game. Thinking and switching things is the fact that not all enemies can be approached in the same way. Flying enemies can only be damaged by long-range physical or magical attacks such as bows and guns, and enemies with petrified attacks can completely nullify your party. .. As a result, I began to feel that the types of nasty and fierce enemy attacks would only increase. Especially in one attack, the action gauges of all targets were completely exhausted and trapped in a loop when the user appeared side by side with other enemies. You need to pay close attention to the order in which you defeat your enemies to avoid sticky situations.

Another important thing to note is that the HP remains the same even if the physical and magical defensive shields are reset after each battle. Not only that, there are few ways to recover HP, so it’s important to navigate each battle efficiently while minimizing damage.

An example of a map puzzle.

An example of a map puzzle.

For dungeon encounters, exploration is just as important as the battle. As mentioned earlier, the player moves down the square map. Some of them contain numbers. The black numbers represent encounters with enemies, while the white numbers trigger events that benefit the player. These can be so many things. A shop where you can buy and sell equipment. Chance to recover HP, status illness, defeated allies, etc. Information about a particular enemy. A treasure that offers new items. New learnable abilities; and puzzles to solve.

Abilities are an important part of the game, from recovering HP and defending against certain conditions of illness to something useful for exploration such as enhanced map display. You need ability points to use them, but moving the map will earn them and organically facilitate your exploration.

The puzzle may display the item’s coordinates after answering a series of questions, but some puzzles ask you to guess the location of the hidden item based on the shape of the map.

I had only the opportunity to play the first 19th floor of the 99th floor, to be exact, at the beginning of this game. Still, one wrong choice in combat, or one catastrophic illness, put the entire party at risk of falling. The game uses an auto-save feature, so even if you can’t escape many times in a row, you’ll start sweating. From my experience it was difficult to know how far the game battle could go in terms of challenging the player without feeling unfair, but I won the game and the Dungeon Encounter offers I left with the desire to see everything.

Dungeon Encounter is probably not the type of game that finds a wide audience, as it is designed with a particular focus on systems and numbers, rather than rich world building and visuals. But if you’re the type of player who is attracted to fighting it in a simple yet profound way, you should definitely give it a try.

Dungeon Encounters will be released on PS4 and Switch on October 14, 2021 and on PC (Steam) on October 15.

Yoshiki Chiba is the editor of IGN Japan.