*The Geek Getaway received a review copy of the game.
Dark Quest 3 is the latest offering from independent UK based developer/publisher Brain Seal Entertainment. It is a rogue lite tabletop RPG with card based exploration. It is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5 for $18.99 and on Xbox One and Series X/S for $14.99.
In Dark Quest 3 you assemble a team of 4 adventurers, from an eventual pool of 12, and set off across the land to defeat the evil sorcerer who is causing trouble. It is a simple premise but it is all you need as an excuse to set off on a journey of random encounters and events. The story doesn't get expanded beyond that initial set-up and none of the flavor texts in the game flesh out any of your adventurers or the world you inhabit. This isn't a big deal as the game is paced well enough that you don't really care that there isn't a sweeping narrative playing out because you are enjoying the simple adventure you are on.
There are 13 different areas in the game, although you do not go through all of them on a single adventure because you are forced to choose between 2 potential locations several times during the game. The areas all feature random events drawn from a deck of cards that can have you dodging traps one minute and engaging in battle the next. Despite there being specific cards tied to each area there is no way to know which cards you will get, and how often, until you draw them. This randomness really keeps things from being repetitive, which is one of the traps many rogue-like and rogue-lite games fall into.
Speaking of rogue-lite, there are several ways you can improve your chances on having a successful run the next time you set off on your quest. Using the crystals you collect on your journey you can upgrade each area of the game so that certain events provide more gold, healing, or extra dice rolls. You can also spend crystals to unlock new classes, equipment, of skins for unlocked classes. Unlocking the extra healing in each area is the key to beating the game as health potions are scarce and there is only 1 class in the game that offers a way to heal your party members.
Battles in Dark Quest 3 are fought in a turn based tabletop strategy style. You and the enemy team go back and forth moving units until every unit has been played then it repeats until you either defeat the enemy or die trying. It may sound simple but there are a variety of skills that keeps combat interesting. Certain runes you acquire on your journey will also give you battle bonuses, which can turn the tides of battle in your favor. Equipment you find along the way can also improve your attack strength making enemies crumble beneath your might. All said, it is a fun and rewarding battle system.
The only quirk in the RPG presentation of Dark Quest 3 is the lack of any sort of XP system. Instead of gaining experience points and leveling up, you simply improve your base attack, unlock a new skill, or improve a previously unlocked skill when prompted to do so. This means that battles that show no attack or skill reward can be avoided without penalty if given the option.
The game features 4 different difficulty levels, 2 only unlocked when beating the previous difficulty, each with unique twists on the gameplay to freshen things up a bit. That said, there really isn't much to do after you have beaten the game and there are no endings for the different classes so there is no reason to use any you don't like.
Final Verdict: Not Recommended
Although Dark Quest 3 is a solid game that offers a fun experience, the $18.99 price tag, on every release except for the Xbox ones, is a bit pricey for what the game offers. This really feels like a $9.99 budget game that you can mess around with for a few days and feel satisfied you didn't spend too much on it. That said, if you really liked the previous 2 Dark Quests games or just have an itch for this type of gameplay then you might not mind the price.