Preview: When Wardens Fall – Less Dungeon Crawling More Dungeon Boring
Hack n’ slash design at its most repetitious.
Fantasy role-playing games (RPG) have a natural affinity with virtual reality (VR), allowing players to don armour, a big shield, sword, mace or other brutal melee weapon and go on an adventure. While videogame like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR perfectly typify this statement not all experiences can be this big or complex, with indie studios having to tame down the grandeur for a more focused approach to their design. So Peernet Games has decide to look at the popular dungeon crawler aspect for its Early Access title When Wardens Fall.
The title is your typical hack n’ slash dungeon brawler where you’re armed with tradition medieval weapons and tasked with trawling through seemingly endless rooms and corridors looking for enemies to fight. However, When Wardens Fall will need to use its Early Access development time wisely as in its current form content is a little thin and highly repetitious.
Starting off in a reasonably well designed dungeon lair with flicking flaming torches pinned to the walls and suitably low ceilings giving that slight claustrophobic feeling, the control were as simple as they come to pick up weapons and then teleport to where you want to go. For the rest of the time it’s mostly a case of swing your arms wildly to kill things. One annoying thing that was quickly apparent was the breezy air sound made when teleporting, it just made no sense being there and ruins the ambiance of the rest of the videogame.
So movement isn’t great but the fighting, well things don’t really improve here either. It’s easy to tell that Peernet Games have put a lot of thought into the melee combat, designing swords which are general use, while spiked hammers are better against armoured enemies, or a scythe at killing multiple foes. They each have their own supposed stats (so the tutorial section implies) that dictate what situations they’re best for.
In reality however the differences seemed somewhat mute. Most of the time the basic sword found in the armoury at the start killed everything fairly quickly (basic monsters in one swipe), while those with a helmet on took a couple more. After traversing through a few rooms which start looking mightily similar the combat just hasn’t changed, walk into room, be seen, they attack, you kill them all in five seconds then move on. The real nail in the coffin here is when an enemy tries to walk over but slides most of the way instead, as if it suddenly had roller skates on.
When Wardens Fall tries to expand the gameplay by offering an alchemy section where you can pick up various herbs and other plants take them back to the brewing station and mix up a vial of health regeneration, poison (to put on weapons), or a glass of explosive for when you get swamped – which is highly unlikely. Yet there’s no inventory system to flick to see what you’ve got, plus there’s no map whatsoever so best of luck trying to find the alchemy bench in the first place.
Currently, When Wardens Fall has some way to go before it should tempt you with its dungeon crawling gameplay. While it looks fine and the general control scheme works a treat the actual gameplay is just too shallow for a rich experience at this point. Hopefully Peernet Games can add some much needed robustness to proceedings, helping solidify a title in a genre that’s already got some premium competition.