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Review: Caverns of Xin Xiao Xu
Presentation: The game is presented quite nicely, simple and to the point. The font is a suitable asian style, but the updates can be hard to read ingame. This probably won't bother you as your important statistics are written clearly on a battered parchment to the side of the screen.
Gameplay: Is simple and extremely addictive. And that's not addictive in the bad way used to describe shitty puzzle games with no other redeeming qualities. On each level you are presented with a random dungeon and must then choose how you are going to tackle it, then move onto the next level. There is more strategy to this game than at first appears, you must choose carefully which enimies you will dodge, which you will fight, and what powerups to pick up and where. It's a very difficult game, so choosing to pick up the attack upgrades before fighting the enimies, something which would seem trivial in other role-playing games, is a crucial element in this one. The inability to save is important to the gameplay, with everything being so random the ability to replay a segment would remove all the challenge and make it a monotonous dungeon crawl like so many other RPGs.
To win this game you must exit the dungeon through the ladder you entered from the previous floor on, then you can make your mark on the online scoreboard. I read that there is in fact a boss as the end, so actually getting to the end and defeating would be another option, but don't expect to be able to do that for a few years. Ultimately its a high score game with a twist. If you bite off more than you can chew, and decide to keep questing instead of leaving and entering your score, and you die, all your hard work has gone to waste and leaves you sitting back at the start, and in my case screaming at the computer and swearing never to play it again. But I always do.
The biggest flaw in the gameplay can also be interpreted as the biggest lastability factor. It's so random. Sometimes you'll decend to the next level, find a room packed with Smurfs and not a health powerup in sight and are forced to end the game through no fault of your own. The randomness is not a bad thing at all, but it would be nice if it was a bit more fair, or presented you with more options. Which brings me to my next complaint which is the simplicity of the game. While it's good that it's so simple, some more gameplay elements would aid it greatly. More strategies will be open to the player, thus making the randomness of the game not as lethal.
Graphics: The graphics are very simple, and preform their job effectively. The enemies are varied and humourous, and for the few frames of animation everyone has, they are very well animated. Your character alternates between some satisfying kick/punch frames as you maul an enemy, treasure and powerups glint and shine, informing new players that they are indeed valuable. The two backdrop tiles don't get repeditive, But some variation in backgrounds would be nice.
Sound and Music: There is no music in this game as far as I can tell, but I have my MIDI volume on 0 and I remove all MODs from click games as soon as I download them so for me this is a good thing. The sounds are good and do their job well, except for the fighting sounds which are far too loud. However, this is The Daily Click and the game sounds are far better than the klik-n-play libaries usually used so the score remains above average in this area.
Lastability: This game looks like it will last for ages. I've been playing it alot in the last two days and I've only seen 6 of the enimies and I assume I have a long way to go. It does get tiresome if you die too often, And some more variation in the levels (especially the first two, which are always the same) would be welcome. This is the games biggest strength, so it gets full marks.
Overall: It's rare that I play a free game for more than a few minutes, but this game has an excellent idea behind it and is executed nearly perfectly. It's incredibly addictive and lasts for ages despite it being so simple. The screenshots don't make the game look too appealing, but if you like Rogue-like games and are looking for something a little less overwhelming, this is perfect.
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