Darksburg: A niche fantasy roguelite that feels unfinished

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Darksburg is a cooperative action roguelite by Shiro Games. Officially released from early access on Sept. 23, 2020, players take on the role of one of five survivors, all of which have their own unique abilities and upgrades that help them survive in the zombie-infested fantasy town of Darksburg. 

Darksburg is a game that combines the zombie-killing co-op of Left 4 Dead, the dungeon crawling of the Diablo series and the controls, heroes and abilities of MOBAs like League of Legends. It has a great art style, with each character having their own distinct visual style that separates them from other elements on the screen. Each of the five survivors is fully voiced, and they’re completely unique from one another. Whether you’re a nun that fights with a giant cross, a chef who crushes foes with a giant ladle or a crossbow-wielding bounty hunter with a pet squirrel, your first few runs through Darksburg will have you learning about each survivor and their unique abilities.  

The roguelite aspect of the game includes the procedurally generated town and four of its five levels having a different layout each time. The thing about this, however, is that the amount of assets for each level are so few and so common, that each level doesn’t feel much different across different runs. The only exception to this are some of the mid-level objectives, such as finding explosives to blow up a blocked door or quickly running through an area that is littered with elite enemies.  

Another one of these roguelite elements is the fact that when your character levels up, you can choose from one of three randomly presented perks that will make your abilities stronger. This randomization can be both a blessing and a curse on some runs, especially as the game gets stronger from each successive run.  

Since the game gets increasingly harder as you climb through each of the 10 difficulty levels, you’ll find yourself trying to strike a balance between exploring each level for chests, which contain loot and items, and running to the finish line before you’re overwhelmed by the swarm of infected. 

At first, Darksburg is a fun game, considering its interesting cast of characters and zombie-killing hack and slash mechanics. But once you manage to defeat the same final boss a few times, there isn’t much content left to explore. Each run through Darksburg takes about an hour, but each time you beat it, you’ll unlock a higher difficulty level that activates unique “affixes” to make gameplay harder. Some of these unique affixes include starting each level at a third of your health points or having constantly draining health lest you attack enemies. Aside from this, there’s a steady set of progression through the collection of Dreadium Ingots, which allow you to unlock items that grant your character passive abilities to increase their survivability. The issue with this however, is that it takes way too long to collect these ingots. When you do, the item you unlock is completely random, so it’s a total gamble as to whether you’ll unlock something useful for your next run.  

For a game that advertises itself through its cooperative gameplay, the community itself is pretty dead. Over the course of the past week, I only ever saw a handful of open lobbies in the game’s server browser.  

Darksburg is good as a time sink, but as it is right now, the game feels incomplete despite having already been through its early access stage on Steam. For a $20 dollar price point, I wouldn’t recommend Darksburg unless it’s at a heavily discounted price, and you have a friend or two to join you. 

Rating: 3/5 

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