Harkening back to the dungeon crawlers of yesteryear, Coldfire Keep is an homage to classic PC RPGs.

Inspired by games such as Might and Magic and Dungeon Master, this first-person adventure pits your party against an ever-deeper dungeon inhabited by giant rats, golems, and more as you defend your town of Newsettle against the monsters that have started to creep out of the dungeon.

When you create a party at the beginning of your adventure, you have the option to include a warrior, rogue, caster, and shaman. Each has its traditional strengths; for example, the warrior is your muscle with physical attacks and heavy gear, the rogue detects traps, the caster does ranged magic damage, and the shaman can heal your party.

When traveling through the depths of the dungeon, you gather loot to increase your power and abilities, kill monsters to increase your experience, and solve puzzles to advance. The loot isn’t as fantastical as what one see in Diablo, but it does the job: Axe, Axe +1, etc. It feels right for what the game is. Leveling up grants you new abilities such as being able to stun enemies with magic or poison them. They add to the strategy for each encounter, and you’ll need them as some foes can hit like a truck. Puzzles in the game tend to be easy. They’re given in the form of prose or poetry, and it’s up to you to determine what they mean. One such puzzle gave me a set of six levers and the clue was, “Equal up as is down from right to left then turn around.”

Combat is luck and turn-based, with each character having a cooldown after attacking or casting a spell. If even one person is on cooldown, your entire party cannot move and may put themselves in more danger from a particularly tough opponent without careful planning about what your next action will be. Fighting can be both rewarding and frustrating as your physical attacks miss a lot thanks to the hidden dice rolls having a low hit chance. Healing your party up is a slow endeavor as most hits you take are stronger than what you can heal, leaving you with a feeling that you’re sometimes slowly bleeding to death. Thankfully, the dice rolls not only prevent you from getting many hits, but the monsters as well. In any given encounter, there is a lot of wiffing. This low hit chance affected both physical and magical attacks, though magic felt as though it had a slightly better chance of landing.

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The game can be punishingly hard at times, mostly from the poor combat. For example, if a monster gets in a few critical hits, you’re down a party member without having been able to do much to save them. When short even one person, the difficulty ramps up until you’re able to find a healing well to resurrect them because you need the extra, if small, chance to land blows on monsters to have a chance at killing them. I got to the point where I would save before an encounter and simply reload the game if I lost someone; the struggle of playing without a full party wasn’t worth it and highly frustrating for me.

As mentioned above, the game is turn-based. Offensive and defensive effects last for X turns; failed attempts at opening chests may be retried after Y turns. The problem lies in that there is no indicator as to what a turn means. Does moving count as a turn? When a character swings at a monster, does that count as a turn, or does each person in my party need to do something in order for it to count as a turn? There is no indicator that I could find that pointed out just what constituted a turn.

Glitches were plenty, but nothing was game-breaking. When reloading a saved game, you’re unable to move at all until you open the game menu and then return to the game. Other times, I found that when I clicked some character’s button to cast a magic spell, it would instead click on the environment, which would cause a switch to activate and close a door on an enemy my party was fighting.

Much like the games of yore, there isn’t a great deal of hand-holding. The game gives you the basics and then sends you on your way in a trial by fire. This isn’t such a terrible thing as it can be fun to explore what you can do, but in some ways, it falls short. The biggest failing to me was the lack of indication that I had a hunger meter. It turns out that this meter is hidden away in the inventory menu as a bar with no label, and it wasn’t until I was well into my adventure and took incidental damage from my party being hungry that I even discovered this mechanic was in the game. When I used a ration and saw a meter go up, I finally found out it where it was. With the characters not being hungry until a few hours into the game, I felt more frustration than anything as I found out I had yet another thing to track.

All in all, Coldfire Keep is a mediocre game. It doesn’t excel at anything, but it isn’t terrible in any respect, either. I was happy that I got to customize my party to be all women if I wanted, and finding some of the secrets was a joy, but nothing here stood out as an amazing feature that made me want to come back.

Review: Coldfire Keep
Pros
  • Large dungeon to explore
Cons
  • Unhelpful UI
  • Little depth
5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

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Sabriel Mastin writes about and creates videos about video games, enjoying the indie side of things most of all. She has many aspirations in life, one of those being sharing the games and the stories of independent developers from around the world.

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