The Dink Network

Cloud Castle

CC_aReason CC_Fairies CC_nieghbors
August 7th, 2009
Score : 6.9 fair
This DMOD could've been a much more satisfying quest, had more care been taken to balance the gameplay. The story is not bad; Dink has bought some estate and hopes for some peace, but as usual, there never is. People are getting kidnapped, and a strange dream draws Dink to rescue a girl in a blue dress.

The Good:

The story is good, and the subplots are not bad for a relatively short quest. There are one or two secrets that need to be uncovered by careful observation; this is not a game where you can just storm through the hordes and hack-n-slash your way to the end. The graphics are also not bad, although they could be better.

The map layout is compact, which prevents pointless wandering. The endgame is a bit too linear, though. One would expect a castle to have a more branching layout than just a straight path through to the end!

The Bad:

The second part of the game is a quantum leap in difficulty level with no warnings. There is no return; so Dink pretty much has to be clairvoyant (read: the player has to play through once and start over and make use of prior knowledge) to know how to prepare for it. The guards are OK once you have the clawsword, but the wizard is almost unkillable in v1.2 because you can no longer stock up on berserk potions. There are no other potions or helpful items besides the steelskin potions, which are expensive (gold is very rare in part 1). The only way I managed to defeat him was to hide behind one of the Ancient machines (abusing the fact that the dink engine lets you strike across a hard object whilst fireballs and monsters are blocked). The fairies are impossible to beat in v1.2 for the same reason - I could not complete the game.

There are also minor issues: some hardness errors, walking over houses, etc., but nothing too major. Some things could be implemented more thoroughly (e.g., activating the stone at the fairy ring should at least mention something about the portal keys the player is carrying; otherwise the connection is only tenuous at best).

Overall, this DMOD has potential, and the story is promising, but it falls down in its execution. The subplots, although not badly done in themselves, fail to integrate with each other (they feel like obstacles the author arbitrarily introduced just so the player has to do something to earn the object). The difficulty balance really needs some work; just offering the player a clawsword doesn't quite cut it when the final bosses are several orders of magnitude tougher than what came before! This makes for a very frustrating game instead of a satisfying quest.