Home Specific celebration Square Enix’s newest RPG is a celebration of old-school active battles

Square Enix’s newest RPG is a celebration of old-school active battles

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Dungeon Encounters is led by Hiroyuki Ito, who was involved in the creation of titles such as Final Fantasy IV, V, XII, and Tactics. I started to sweat a bit as I started playing as not only is he well known for his work in designing combat systems, but I was told that it was all about his systems, so naturally, I was prepared to have to take a lot on board. Some of you might also be interested to know that Cattle Call, known for the Metal Max series and The Legend of Legacy, handled its development.

Not a game with lush visuals and effects or a deep, gripping storyline, but some sort of turn-based, number-driven, bone-less RPG. IGN Japan had the opportunity to try it before its release, so here are our first impressions.

This dungeon crawler RPG is all about forming a party of up to four characters and diving into the depths of a board game-style square grid map. Although the dungeon is divided into squares, you can focus on exploring and making your way through the maps without having to worry about systems like stamina or hunger. As you move up the floors the maps get bigger and the enemies get tougher.

Walking on one of the numbered boxes found along a map triggers a battle or event. Think of these numbers as replacements for enemy symbols or treasure chests, with black numbers representing battles and white numbers leading to events. Almost like a sinister version of snakes and ladders.

An example of a card puzzle.

Its exploration is just as crucial to Dungeon Encounters as its battles. As stated earlier, players progress on square cards, some of which contain numbers. While the black numbers represent enemy encounters, the white numbers trigger events that benefit the player. These can be any number of things: stores where you can buy and sell equipment; Chances to recover HP, status ailments, defeated allies and more; information on specific enemies; treasure that provides new items; new learning capacities; and puzzles to solve.

Abilities are a vital part of this game, ranging from recovering HP and defending against specific status issues to ones that aid exploration like an extended map display. Their use requires ability points, but these are earned as you travel the map, organically encouraging exploration.

Puzzles can show the coordinates of an item after you answer a series of questions, while others ask you to infer the location of a hidden item based on the shape of a map, adding extra excitement. to what might otherwise risk turning into a boring exploration.

I only got to play at the start of this game, the first 19 of 99 floors to be exact. Even so, I found myself in situations where a poor choice in combat or a crippling status illness put my entire party in danger of falling. Because this game uses an autosave feature, you will even start to sweat when you fail to leak multiple times in a row. In my experience it was hard to say how far the battles in the game could go to challenge the player without feeling unfair, but I left feeling like I wanted to beat the game and see all that Dungeon Encounters has got. to offer.

With its heavy design focused on systems and numbers in particular rather than world building and rich visuals, Dungeon Encounters may not be the type of game that will find a large following. But if you are the type of player who is drawn to combat in a simple yet deep way, you should definitely give this one a try.

Dungeon Encounters is slated to launch on PS4 and Switch on October 14, 2021, and on PC (Steam) on October 15.


Yoshiki Chiba is an editor at IGN Japan.


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