• Kyle Smith

Dark Burial Review

Dark Burial released on our Nintendo Switches for the amazing price of £2! This super cheap indie game advertises itself with screenshots that appear to cross Megaman, with Castlevania from NES era. I love both of these games… A LOT… So, I purchased this game on a whim in the hope of finding a hidden gem which had averted me. The question is, does this game make me reminisce about the times on my Nintendo Entertainment System, screaming at my TV, dying again and again over the death of Megaman or Simon Belmont? Read below for my review:

Dark Burial adopts a basic NES era style of gameplay which aims for simplicity. You can move, jump and shoot. The game is delivered, not only as an action game, but as a puzzle game too. You play as a crossbow wielding sentinel, who can shoot his arrows at surfaces and stand on them allowing you to reach, otherwise unreachable areas. The games key mechanic is about precision and speed, asking you to navigate past enemies and completing platform jumps quickly and accurately. One hit or one slip up and you’re back to the beginning of the level, die too many times and your back to the very start. On paper this mechanic sounds amazing, however, the game falls short on its quality of delivery for this style of game. The game feels like it needs to be slowed down a small fraction, this would help make the jumping feel more consistent. It also feels like it could do with a little more polish in the little things. For example, when completing a level, a beacon will be lit and you’ll have 3-5 seconds before the next level loads, but there is no obvious cue given to inform you have completed the level, therefore you end up feeling like the game has glitched until you’re moved on. A final example where the game could get a little more polish is when you move to the next level. There’s no transition between levels at all, the screen just flicks you into the next level, which weirdly makes the game feel emptier. It feels weird to say this as we usually want to move away from this as much as possible, but it just feels missing. Although these floors are frustrating the game is still really fun. It doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before, but it is a good way to kill a couple of hours.

There isn’t any real story, other than, there is an enemy is attacking your land, warn your people and stop enemies as you go! Although this is forgiven easily as this is a £2 game after all. I liken the experience/gameplay of Dark Burial to mobile games, except there’s no in-game purchasing, upgrades or a level selection map. If I'd played this in my youth on the NES I would have accepted it as a ‘okay’ game and would have played it a fair bit, due to it being easy jump into. But the game never even comes close to the exciting diverse gameplay that so many of the classic 16-bit games like Megaman and Castlevania offered, making for quite a basic experience.

The graphics of this game are easily its best asset. It boasts a dark 16-bit style which is beautifully and artistically sculpted. Although its obvious to see what its influences where, the game still manages to feel unique. I would say some of the Sprites did feel a tad weak in places, such as a couple of the early bosses, but other than those, the game really looked nice. Additionally, any game that aims to set its graphic style in the NES area that offers a CRT option, gets bonus point from me! The aesthetic of the game is similar to the world of Castlevania, dark and full of monsters. The artist has done well overall to portray the world through the setting and monsters of this game.

Dark Burials soundtrack is good enough to work with the environment, but it feels to simple and isn’t that memorable. This is a shame as the games that this one is influenced by have fantastic soundtracks. So many other games that opt to go for this style bring back the key themes from those inspiration to form great soundtracks that sound cut straight from from the 16 / 32-bit era. The music only changes when you enter a new stage which is roughly after 5 levels, and as you die a lot in this game, the music gets old quite quickly.

Enemies have sound effects applied to them, but they are extremely minimal and simplistic, even for a game which matches this era. The audio of the game feels empty, repetitive, and poorly used. The game could have done with a little more time in introducing sound effects. Although again it’s important to remember that this game has a low price tag, and development costs, therefore is not aiming to be at the top.

This game has been released at just short of £2 in the UK. For that price you are getting a okay indie game which could help you burn some time quickly. But that is all this is, you are getting a game that works, is fun and is basic. I would say that this game feels more like the kind of quality you would find in a mobile game, although it isn’t riddled with any in game ads, paywalls and convoluted upgrade systems. However, if I had paid anything above £4 for this game, I would have felt my money could have been better spent on so many other titles.

If you are looking for a exciting retro experience with explosions, a killer soundtrack and exciting mechanics then Dark Burial is not the game for you. Instead Dark Burial looks to be a game that you visit every so often when you want to pass a few minutes to an hour. It is simple yet effective. It isn’t the top of its class in the indie world, it sits somewhere in the middle, never achieving anything new. Although the graphics style for the game are impressive and the game is certainly worth a play for those who have a spare bit of money to part with.


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