[Nintendo Switch] Dark Deity Review
Dark Deity from Freedom Games and Sword and Axe is a solid turn-based tactical RPG that pays homage to the Fire Emblem series. Check our Dark Deity review!
Dark Deity from Freedom Games and Sword and Axe is a solid turn-based tactical RPG that pays homage to the Fire Emblem series – which is certainly not a bad thing since I’m a huge Fire Emblem fan! Centuries after a Calamity struck the land, tearing everything and everything in its path, and after 25 years of peace, the stubbornness and conspiracy theories of King Varic will start to set the world on fire, all because of a desire for revenge that has no real basis. What will happen next?
You’ll lead a group of four students from the Brookstead Military Academy. Graduates from the Academy have long joined the King’s army, but the King’s thirst for vengeance makes it so that every single student at the Academy is called into action, sent as cannon fodder into a war they never asked to be a part of. Students at the Brookstead Military Academy won’t be the only ones asked to join the army, so you’ll meet 30 playable characters in total, with a new pair joining the cause early in the story.
The game was taken to Kickstarter back in August of 2020, asking potential backers to support the project, which had a $12,000 goal. Once the crowdfunding campaign was over, and thanks to the support of almost 2,400 backers, the project managed to secure over $74,000 in funding. After launching on PC on June 2021, Dark Deity is now ready to go on Nintendo Switch. The team at Sword and Axe includes Chip Moore and Dylan Takeyama, who have been friends since 6th grade, dreaming of one day making a video game of their own.
You can play the game in one of three difficulty settings: Mortal, Hero, and Deity. Mortal dials back the challenge a bit, allowing gamers to enjoy the story with battles that have enemies with lower aptitudes while also boosting the experience points and gold you receive in fights. Hero is the standard difficulty setting, balanced for those of you who have some experience with turn-based tactical RPGs. And then, there’s Deity. The Deity difficulty setting will increase the power of enemies while lowering how many experience points and gold you get, so you’ll have to make every action count!
Dark Deity will throw you into a tutorial match right away so that you can learn the basics to survive in the world of Dark Deity. You’ll move a cursor around the screen with the left analog stick or the D-Pad. Moving it over an opponent will allow you to learn about its attack range so that you can plan your strategy. Move it over one of your units and press the A button to select it so that you can then move it within its range before selecting an action. Your units will be able to attack, use an item, wait, or use an ability, depending on their class.
Making the most of the unique abilities for each class is key if you want to win. One unit might be able to use Disarm on an enemy, removing any boosts it would receive from a weapon. Another one can Push a unit one slot, which can end up saving one of your friends. The same goes for Phase, which will take a unit and teleport it behind the character uses it. Chain is a very useful ability to use on an opponent you want to keep in its place for a bit since it will make your opponent remain stuck for a turn. Use Haste, and you can boost a friendly unit’s movement by one space!
Some units will have special skills that will have an effect on how battles and character growth unfold by making the most out of what each special skill does. For example, Irving has the Natural Leader skill. What this does is make it possible for allies within two tiles from Irving to gain experience points whenever he defeats an enemy. Alden, who’s a mage, has a very interesting skill known as Slumbering Strength. Thanks to Slumbering Strength, when Alden levels up, he’ll never get less than four stat points boost. As you can probably imagine, this makes a huge deal after, say, he’s leveled up a handful of times since it helps to bridge the gap between a mage’s natural lack of high HP and defense stats.
Once you attack an opponent – or when someone attacks you – the screen will change to the battle scene. During this, you’ll see the animations for each character as they perform their actions. You’ll also get to see how each unit’s actions affect their hit points and those of their opponents, based on the type of attack or ability used, the damage dealt, the hit percentage, and the critical hit percentage. You should take into consideration that some units can attack more than once during a single battle scene and that some can counterattack depending on the weapon they’re using, their class, and their position in relation to their opponent.
Something that Dark Deity does differently is that, unlike the Fire Emblem franchise, the game does not have permadeath for your characters. For those of you new to the term, permadeath means that when a character dies in battle, that character is gone for good. You, therefore, can’t use any of the characters that have died to fight in subsequent battles and need to readjust your strategy accordingly. And yes, games like the excellent Fire Emblem: Three Houses do allow you to remove permadeath, it wasn’t always an option.
What Dark Deity has in place of the permadeath Fire Emblem has gotten us used to is certainly an interesting way of doing things. Whenever one of your units falls in battle, it will suffer a considerable wound. What this wound does is affect that unit’s stats, which will certainly change their effectiveness in battle, thus weakening the whole group. If too many of your units die in battle and these wounds start to pile up, you’re certainly going to be in trouble!
Luckily, the units that fight together will experience a boost in their relationships which will, in turn, allow them to grow closer and stronger as they continue to fight the good fight as a group. These will also lead to individual conversations between characters – 400 conversations in total! – allowing you to learn more about each of them and how their interactions shape their future.
To allow gamers of all skill levels to join the fight, Dark Deity allows you to customize a variety of parameters to change how the game experience will go. You can decide how aptitudes are distributed, turn on or off the randomization element for items, change the randomization element for weapons, change the order in which units are recruited so that it’s either normal, randomized, or make it so that they’re recruited in a reversed order, change the enemy classes you’ll fight against, as well as adjust the base modifier for stats, gold, and experience points.
As a huge Fire Emblem fan, I had been looking forward to playing Dark Deity on Nintendo Switch. I’m here to let you know that the game delivers on all fronts. It features an interesting story, gameplay mechanics that will make tactical RPG fans feel right at home, a solid art style and great combat animations for all characters, and plenty of content to enjoy. Dark Deity is out tomorrow on Nintendo Switch with a $24.99 asking price, and it’s one you should definitely add to your collection.
This Dark Deity review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Freedom Games.