Whenever I hear about a videogame that sets out to be funny, I immediately think of the warning signs. Bad jokes, often in bad taste, and awful writing are typical of what I’ve come to expect from games, and in most cases, such games don’t have the mechanical quality to fall back on. The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is certainly an exception, with a script that hits the mark as often as not, and an XCOM style backbone that works very, very well.
The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos arrives on console as The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – Chicken Edition. In this guise, it is simply the regular base game plus the Ruins of Limis DLC — which adds about another eight hours apparently. Thanks to an already stupidly long title, I am going to go forth through this review referring to The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – Chicken Edition simply as The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos.
WIth that said, the title of the game is actually a bit of a clue as to the self-deprecating, tabletop-RPG bashing humour of The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos. Every aspect of fantasy and role-playing culture is put under the comedic lens for scrutiny across a lengthy campaign, and there are no sacred cows. The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos takes the piss out of everything from Lords of the Rings, to The Witcher, and most certainly itself.
Some of the jokes are a bit tired and stereotypical – such as the “bimbo-esque” elf character, who is blonde, dumb and seductively dressed; or the bookish wizard, who is the literal opposite. The other characters in your party constantly berate them for these perceived failings (especially the elf) and I feel like The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos would be cleverer had it flipped these preconceptions on its head with counter-stereotypes. There are other examples throughout, for sure and some are more subtle than others.
On the other hand, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos does a decent job of picking up on some of the sillier aspects of other popular parts of the fantasy genre as a whole. Early appearances from a Gandalf-style wizard — complete with frequent references to being a “Conjurer of Cheap Tricks” — and a Strider-esque NPC who mocks our own party ranger are just two more examples.
Overall and assuming you have a relatively balanced sense of humour, you’ll probably find some of The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos’s script to be tiresome and irrelevant enough to just skip. At the same time, some of the voiced sections and some of the interplay between specific characters might appeal, so you’ll likely find a decent balance. I certainly did, and I found the non-combat aspect of the game to be enjoyable in general as a result.
Once you’re actually on the battlefield, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is surprisingly competent. When I say that, I mean it went from me expecting to be pretty rubbish and hoping it would turn out OK, to me being surprised that it is actually genuinely good. Each battle is a tough, tactical and turn-based affair in which the player party of up to seven characters faces down an enemy party of anything from half the size to two or three times the size.
Play is very much in the standard mould of XCOM-style tactical RPG’s, with each character (usually) having the ability to move once and take an action — such as use a melee or ranged attack, take a defensive stance or go on overwatch, or use one of several spells or abilities. Early in the game, the characters feel quite weak, but their abilities are unique and interesting, and The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is tough enough that you will actually have to use each character properly or else you’ll very likely lose.
As the game goes on, each character will level up giving the player a rare smorgasbord of choices. With every level comes two attribute points, one new active ability and one new passive. This means that levelling up is rewarding, and there’s a lot of room for specialisation within each character class, even though the skill tree is relatively small for each of the two different kinds of upgrade.
Another thing that expands in the classic RPG style is your inventory of ridiculously named items. Every character has access to a unique kit, which I much prefer over having to decide whether to put Armour Set A on to Character 1 or Character 2. It’s much quicker just to see if a new item is directly better than the previous one and then either keeping it, selling it or trashing it accordingly.
By the late game, the sense of power across the player party has massively increased, but I was pleased to find that the game scaled well in line and the challenge remains present until the very end. The bundled DLC is intended as a follow-up adventure and I admit that I haven’t tried it yet, but I will say that The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos has impressed me enough that I think I will do so.
In closing then, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos on console is a good looking, well made TRPG with a script that blows hot and cold and will give variable mileage based on whether you enjoy it or not. Whilst I didn’t love every joke, I did find the quality of the spoken dialogue to be very high, and on balance I enjoyed the interaction between party members that is near constant. Broadly speaking, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is a game that I do recommend, just possibly not to everyone.
You can find The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos on PC.