Review: Demise – Rise of the Ku’Tan (PC)

By Drew Wilson

Demise: Rise of the Ku’Tan is a dungeon crawling RPG game for the PC. It features a high level of customizability and complexity that doesn’t end once the characters are created. We take a look at this particular video game.

This particular video game was released in 1999 and was a sequel to the game “Mordor – The Depths of Dejenol”. The game retains many of the original characteristics such as a city to buy and sell equipment and items, an automap feature, random quests and a tile-based dungeon.

You start off with creating a completely custom character. You can choose from many races including a human, elf, gnome, saris and more. You can also either join the “starting” guild of artisan or go completely into another guild (although, not all guilds are accessible from the start – namely a number of the magic using guilds. Some races have natural resistances to certain kinds of attacks, some live longer than others and some have better eye sight to see through the darker parts of the dungeon.

You also start off with the option of having a single character party or going as a party of four (the maximum number of characters you can have in a single party). Once you carefully decide what your party looks like (carefully, because there are things to watch for like needing an intelligence and wisdom of at least 10 to use tomes that increase your stats), you are brought to the city. Your first task is to see Lord Gherrick. When you see him, your first major game quest is to kill the slave driver. Of course, it will take a while to level up enough to even stand a chance against him, so your first goal is to build your characters up.

When you go into the dungeon, you’ll quickly realize just how fragile your party is. While it doesn’t take much to level up and gain a large number of much needed maximum “hits”, the risk of dying is quite high (if you don’t die in this game at all, you’ve done very very well). If/When you die, you’ll get rescued and brought to the morgue after a certain amount of days and resurrected. For the first several levels, your resurrection is free. Just be warned that there’s the risk of “complications” during a raise where you gain a large amount of age and lose a lot of other stats in the process, so you want to be raising your characters as few times as possible.

When you encounter monsters, they can be either hostile or “peaced” where they just hang out in the room, allowing you to continue on your merry way as you map out the dungeon’s levels. Most monsters (a group of slaves don’t have any gold) drop gold, but sometimes they have treasure chests. A large portion of these chests are trapped and it takes a character with a certain amount of lock-picking experience (thief is your best bet) to disarm the traps to get what’s inside. When you complete a main game quest, you can get a reward for your troubles as well as receive the next quest.

The storyline is very general. You get asked to kill various things or retrieve certain items in the dungeon and you do it. The story-line is really secondary to what you do throughout most of your dungeon crawling experience – which is mostly hack and slash your way through the hoards of regenerating monsters as you try and explore every nook and cranny of the dungeon.

While the major bonus to this game is that you are always experience a sense of progress, a downfall is the need to micro-manage your party all the time. While you can put a warrior as the party leader for the purpose of getting the initial first turn in battle, your other characters won’t get the same amount of experience because experience is awarded on a per hit or per kill basis (with the exception of opening chests where you can gain experience by disarming trapped chests as well). So, ideally, you’ll constantly change who takes the valuable position of the party leader or have a few characters way more overpowered than other characters.

In addition to this, some characters require more experience than others to level up, depending on what guilds they are in. So, you’ll either micro-manage your party a lot earlier in the game, or suffer the consequences of waiting until one of your characters can level up enough to hit weapon resistant monsters later on in the game.

Another flaw is that there are parts of the game where you find yourself “stuck” in. This can be fore a few reasons. One reason is the often discussed “gold pinning” where your character just doesn’t have enough gold to level up. The game only allows you to get enough experience for one level and a second level minus one experience point. From there, you are “pinned” and cannot achieve any more experience until you visit the guild and level up. Another reason is that the difficulty between one level of the dungeon and another jumps. This can cause your party to constantly grind the same level for hours just to get enough experience to equip something that will allow them to survive that level. A third reason is that one of your characters was quested to find a particularly rare item or kill a particularly rare monster. Sometimes, you can sweep the appropriate levels to find the monster several times without any luck. All you can do is either wait for the monsters to regenerate so you can try again or “force pop” the monster by either asking the seer multiple times or casting the monster search spell yourself several times. This can force the game to “repopulate” what you are looking for (for items, they’ll be found left on the dungeon floor somewhere for you to pick up).

This game also contains a few glitches including leaving magically locked chests in anti-magic areas. This means there is absolutely no way to retrieve what is inside that chest. Another bug is the fact that dead monsters can gradually sink into the floor for some reason. A third one is that the images of an item can be left on the floor, but there is no item to pick up (the best way to tell is to hear for the “Hmm…” sound from your character which would indicate if the item can be picked up or not). The ending is also somewhat underwhelming. You kill the last boss and all you get is a message saying congratulations and an event that happens with Lord Gherrick. From there, you can just roam around and do what you please before you finally get bored and stop playing.

The graphics, for the time, is actually quite decent in my view given the kind of graphics other games had to offer. It’s not absolutely amazing, but it’s, in my view, not bad either. The only problem is that there’s the occasional drop in frame rate whenever there’s a particularly large number of monsters in an open area. The environment changes every couple of levels, so it keeps the surroundings fresh.

The sound is decent enough. The music gets annoying after a while, but fortunately, there’s an option to shut it off when you get tired of hearing the same kind of music over and over again. The sounds of the monsters can get repetitive after a while, but the monsters are also constantly changing too, so I don’t think it’s too annoying given the large variety of what you hear.

Another attribute is the amount of time that can be consumed playing this game. It took me the better part of a year and a half to beat this particular game. Sometimes, it’s because of the constant grinding trying to get that next weapon upgrade, other times, it’s just going through exploring what the dungeon has to offer (big plus in my view). So, the time spent can either be annoying or interesting – depending on your situation and position in the game.

Generally speaking, I found it to be a good game. If you have a complex job that taxes the mind, this is the game for you because, after a certain amount of prepping for your adventure, it’s just moving around and letting the battles happen. You are constantly rewarded as you move along and it keeps you playing to see what you can accomplish next. The complexity of the game is both a major positive and a major negative. You can strategize in numerous ways and come up with multiple winning ways of beating the game, but you have to constantly maintain your party in many numerous ways which makes the game a little tedious at times. You have little replay value because you spend so much time trying to get through the game the first time, so that is why there is such a low score for replay value – it’s soaked up by the gameplay aspect of it all. Still, this game is worth playing – especially if you are a fan of RPG games.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Defeated the Ku-Tan Jenal, the final boss.

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 4/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall Score: 74%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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