Descent Legends of Darkness: the review of the boardgame

Descent Legends of Darkness: the review of the boardgame

Descent Legends of Darkness

And here we are, ready to return to Terrinoth with our gear of armor, swords, amulets to face a new fantastic threat; it's time to write the review of Descent Legends Of Darkness, or the third edition of the famous Fantasy Flight dungeon crawler, distributed in Italy by Asmodee.

Necessary premise: I have practically consumed the second edition of Descent (al time distributed by Giochi Uniti), however, facing almost all expansions, for better or for worse, with its strengths and weaknesses. I am a devourer of games of the genre, a true son of Hero Quest (you all know that it is coming back, right? Read here). Over time I left the fantasy settings to devote myself to raids in the distant galaxy of Imperial Assault (which in many ways represents a certain micro-evolution of Descent's game system) and therefore I awaited the arrival of this title with a certain trepidation.

Many things surprised me and I'm about to tell you about them in Descent's Legends of Darkness review.

Descent Legends Of Darkness: man does not live by dice alone

The first and most important difference with the past (although it is not entirely correct to state it) is the introduction of a completely app-driven game system, that is with the aid of an indispensable application that acts as a guide, map and campaign diary, compendium of the rules.

This system transforms the game into a pure cooperative, a unlike the previous edition in which a player assumed the role of the Dark Overlord to command the terrible forces of evil and have fun exterminating the poor hapless heroes (or take them for good reason). In reality, the introduction of the app had already taken place in the last and most recent phases of the previous edition of Descent but here the change is radical.

I'm not going to tell you how important and satisfying it is for me to challenge other players in a competitive game; often it was difficult to find a balance in the forces on the field (when one side or the other begins to obtain several victories in a row the difference in skills and experience affects and not just unbalanced the game) and all in all the lockdown made me appreciate a lot titles like Journeys into Middle-earth (also from Fantasy Flight) or the solo campaigns in Imperial Assault with the app providing me with the challenge.

A detail of the app in the Steam images So ok. But, and it is a fundamental aspect of Descent's Legends of Darkness review, this time the use of the app is more invasive than ever. The app reveals the paths, the contents of the rooms, the monsters, the elements with which you can interact; manages events and twists, calculates damage and distributes random effects of attacks, tells the story and, I'm not sure, it was quite late, I think he even made me a coffee.

After about three hours of game you feel like you have spent more time pressing buttons on the app than moving thumbnails. In short, almost like playing a mobile game rather than a boardgame.

But is this necessarily bad? To be honest, and after getting used to the new mood a little, I'd say no. Because the app is done damn well. From dubbing to intuitive functions, up to captivating graphics. One has the idea of ​​being a little bit into everything, but if it works, why complain about it? After all, many years have passed since that canned legend called Hero Quest and dungeon crawlers have really made many.

Descent Legends of Darkness: less challenge, more exploration

E in the review of Descent Legends of Darkness it is right to underline these two fundamental aspects: however much you can set the level of difficulty to ensure an adequate commitment (in every sense) Descent seems designed to provide more a great narrative experience than a playful one- challenger.

The exploratory component within the individual missions is satisfying, interesting, since the scenario will open up in front of the heroes in a progressive way (an aspect common to several dungeon crawlers, starting from those HeroQuest and Advanced Hero Quest ), going at times to recall the dynamics already seen in Journeys in Middle-earth.

And there will not be only terrain and interior tiles to be discovered: before our eyes there will be a triumph of 3D components, with doors, various furniture, stone arches, columns, wells, trees, stairs, barriers and much more. The game table thus becomes an extraordinary scenario that fills with joy. If the quality of the texture of the tiles is actually not particularly brilliant (the grounds and floors are quite mundane compared to many titles of the same publisher), with illustrations not rich and flat, everything else is really a pleasure for the eyes.

I am mentioning it for the third time ... going to remember again that dear old Hero Quest of yesteryear and that no one will ever take away from our hearts. It takes a long time to build the entire mission dungeon, but what a satisfaction.

And so it lets us take you from the app to the discovery of dungeons, woods, glades, rivers, among well-written texts and creatures of every genre, without ever having the feeling of being able to really die even in the face of a slightly more consistent difficulty. Or rather, since we can hardly ever predict the effect of enemy attacks, some curse has flown but in the end we have always come out with our legs.

Slightly evolving the system already seen in Imperial Assault, to die we really have to deplete our hit points and then get a wound. If the injury is slight we will be penalized with penalties but we will continue to play and still be injured. If it is serious, the handicap will be greater and once your life points are exhausted you will end up rolling dice in the green fields of the Lord. In short, come on, it takes some.

It must be said that the artificial intelligence of the enemies in Descent Legends of Darkness is well managed and - just like in a video game - also quite unpredictable. Or rather, the enemies will attack according to predefined patterns from the app, but the effects of the attacks will not be calculated in advance. This removes that purely mathematical strategic aspect (the player calculates what the risk of an attack on the roll of the dice could be and therefore assumes the consequences of decisions with more awareness) which we do not always like but which we are a little used to. Thus Descent becomes more unpredictable, as attacks are associated with different effects on the basis of magic and particular attributes.

I stress that it is an aspect that I actually liked a lot.

Descent Legends Of Darkness: Sculpt my heart.

Gentlemen, I must say: Descent's third edition features some of the most beautiful miniatures seen recently in a Fantasy Flight game. A step above many titles, even of famous rivals (Cool Mini Or Not? Let's talk about it) and maybe a couple below the unattainable Games Workshop.

But the sculptures, the details and the imagination with which they are made are really excellent. Even the individual bases are customized and sculpted, introducing a system of joints with colored and graphic elements (for those suffering from color blindness) to differentiate the teams of monsters (before on Imperial Assault it was done with the hateful adhesives).

They are forty and they are beautiful, do you need anything else? Oh, they charge you every penny, but we'll get to that shortly.

We could spend hours discussing, within Descent's Legends of Darkness review, the appeal of card illustrations and of the characters. They have not met the taste of my playmates, but in short, I know two things about the world of illustrated art and I cannot say they are poor. The more traditional and dark mood of the past has been lost (I won't mention Hero Quest anymore, I look like an alcoholic trying to convince himself that he doesn't have a problem), in favor of a simpler appeal, almost with a wink to the manga or to the classic JRPGs. Okay so, for every detractor there could be a supporter.

The cards are many and well represented and the general quality increases the price but it certainly doesn't disappoint.

Descent Legends of Darkness: dust away from the past, but will the new one hold up?

The gameplay of this third edition does not vary much from the past, as Descent has de facto set a standard in the genre.

The heroes now have three actions to perform, one of which is movement; there are still fatigue counters that this time are not associated with the character's tenacity but with all his cards (including that character) and still act as a limit to the "extraordinary" actions that can be performed. Gone is the concept of "rest" that allowed you to reset your efforts, but today there is the concept of a turn of cards, which allows you to obtain the same effect (not to gain health however) and to change your game approach.

Each character comes with two weapons with different purposes and uses (edged or pointed weapons, throwing or blunt weapons and so on) that will be joined together by matching the backs. Turning this card combo will allow us to challenge one or the other as well as canceling the fatigue on it. Ditto for your character sheet, obtaining different profiles of the same player.

Brynn, the paladin, can be used as a tank that covers her companions from damage or as a ferocious ram's head, simply by turning her card over. Similarly Galaden becomes a ranger or dps raider, Vaerix a healer or a more technical character. And this is just the first of some aspects that make Descent third edition closer than ever to certain role-playing games, even videogames, also including an "off-game" experience to visit cities and shop or build equipment, or travel to run into side quests that can give you great rewards.

The progress of the character, the search for materials of many different types and the construction of weapons in their key elements that compose them, the movement that stops when a character enters a box adjacent to a monster (almost returning an attack of opportunity concept), there are many aspects that make this Descent a little more advanced than its predecessors but also a little more similar to a video game.

however, it is quite immediate to learn, also thanks to the compendium of the rules directly in the app that allows you to easily search for topics on which you have doubts or - for example - by trac ciare the lines of sight when it is not possible to calculate well.

Unfortunately, some introductions are mostly scenic rather than substantial, such as the difference in plan (do you remember I told you about stairs?) which does not affect about the fighting, or the effects of magic (actually attributes of the attacks and not much more) that instead could have become much deeper and more decisive.

Because the feeling is that Descent Legends of Darkness has only apparently done a step forward in the dynamics of the game. In truth, it seems that the game has also become a little simplified, making it a good entry level for those who want to approach this type of boardgame (even if the price is definitely much higher than average, due to the super components). The goal of Descent Legends Of Darkness is to be more transversal and for this reason it is also aesthetically appealing.

Like the sports versions of some cars: lowered suspension, spoilers, eye-catching rims, oversized tires, aesthetic details important, all to attract a young audience that is fascinated. Beware there are horses under the hood, but here we focus more on the charm of exploration and environments than on advanced and challenging mechanics. A bit like the details of a sports car.

Descent Legends of Darkness: in conclusion

Undoubtedly the third edition of Descent Legends of Darkness presents great charm and good longevity. The missions that make up the campaign of this Act I (yes, you read that right, we are only in the first phase) are sixteen, more than enough to keep us busy for some time. There is already talk of several expansions but it is not yet known whether the competitive element will be introduced again or not and in this sense, unfortunately the replayability is undermined by the fact that there is no mission editor to be able to create your own quests at will (d 'otherwise it would be a contradiction).

But the game is fun, smooth even if continually interspersed with pressing the keys on the app (which makes the experience a bit binding at the beginning, then you get the callus ).

The expense is high, in fact the advice, as always, is to buy it in company with your party of friends (you can play a maximum of four, the perfect number for this kind of experience, also because the increase of players would entail an unsustainable increase in playing time), in order to make it more palatable, given that over 170.00 euros are not exactly easy to digest.

The previous edition of Descent was however undermined by many defects (let's be good) that in the long run ave even an inveterate Ameri-trasher like me was tired, addressing me to the smoother Imperial Assault, but in general the experience of this new edition proved to be satisfying and structured. Of course, as the campaign progresses you will master your character so much that you will learn by heart some action patterns with certain results, but - porcoboia - this is also the founding principle of almost all the games of this genre and of videogmaes like Diablo, Gauntlet and company trump.

So if you are not of this approach perhaps it is the case that you turn not to another title but to another kind of boardgame.

For which this Act I is promoted , despite the price and the (small or perhaps not so much) missed opportunities to deepen a title with a great history and a legacy to maintain but which evolves in a transversal audience rather than in depth.

Not bad. And then we have an alchemist dwarf, the first deaf elf in history (I hate elves), a human hybrid cat with claws a la Freddy Krueger and berserkers who look like they came out of Ken the Warrior's Shin army. Not bad.

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