Doom & Destiny Advanced review: should I be annoyed with this?
Okay, time for a confession:
I’ve never really gotten into JRPGs.
If I had been born a few years earlier, I might’ve been able to catch Final Fantasy, Super Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and all of those other classics. Despite my limited experience, I decided to play Doom & Destiny Advanced and see how much I’ve been missing. Do&De Adv (an abbreviation for this unwieldy title) is actually produced by an Italian developer, but the game tries to harken back to those turn-based RPGs on the SNES. The game released on Steam about two months ago but an iOS version appeared just last week.
Doom & Destiny Advanced has you play as four guys: Nigel, Mike, Johnny, and Francis. The four are on their way to play a table-top RPG at a friend’s house, but a mysterious force transports them to a fantasy world. This is a very simplistic retelling of the plot, but it’s the only part that matters. It’s certainly the part that’s most frequently mentioned and the dialogue overuses this situational irony to the point of annoyance.
Yes, it's witty to have a wizard, knight, barbarian, and thief taking a selfie together. Yes, it's clever to make arbitrary roadblocks that you can only get past with the permission of Queen MacGuffin. Fortunately, your job in Do&De Adv isn’t complicated so you can skip most of the dialogue without missing any necessary details.
If you’re a fan of the turn-based battle system, Do&De Adv accomplishes that pretty well. Characters have classes, HP, MP, individual stats, and a handful of attacks with various effects. The only things I weren’t familiar with were Resources, which are shared amongst the party. There are four kinds of Resources and they function like group MP for certain attacks. Resources aren’t difficult to get and they never caused problems for me.
The turn system is akin to Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle system. On the top of the screen, there’s a gauge that shows which fighter will have the next turn. Characters with better Agility stats will be up at bat more frequently.
My only real complaint with the turn-based battles themselves is that you can’t check an attack’s description during a fight. There are some icons that give an idea of what each attack does, but if I were getting used to a new character I’d often not be certain what I was doing. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, so it’s not a deal-breaker.
This brings me to my biggest annoyance. You might think that I shouldn’t get confused with only a four-member party. Surely their attacks couldn’t be changing too much? Well, of course, their attacks change because each character has four classes to choose from.
I originally thought this could be cool. More classes means more customization, which means a better experience, right? Let me explain why this system didn’t work.
At the beginning of the game, Nigel is a wizard, Mike is a cleric, Johnny is a barbarian, and Francis is a chef. Mike receives a new class pretty early on, but I didn’t use it until a boulder blocked my progress; Mike can play as a knight, and the knight can move boulders. You can only change classes at save point gems. After backtracking for a while, I found one of these gems and equipped the knight. I moved the boulder only to encounter a particularly tough enemy.
I’d never used the knight in battle before. I was used to having Francis making enemies vulnerable to fire and then having Mike blast them with sacred flames. With each level up I had focused on increasing Mike’s MP and attack, but those stats are useless now. Knights are meant to be tanks with lots of HP that attract the enemy’s attention away from the party’s real damage-dealers.
Long story short, Mike died and the rest of my team met the same fate. Maybe I’m just bad at JRPGs or maybe I’m a moron for not seeing it coming, but this felt like a clear sign that a design choice like this does not work. Having to upgrade each class individually makes it worse since upgrade material is pretty sparse. I don’t see the point of improving all of a character’s classes by a little bit when it would be better to level up one class as far as it can go.
Do&De Adv also suffers from a few odd glitches. One quest requires you to talk to a sailor and rent a boat. Right after doing this I realized I hadn't even checked the town's shops, so I left to see what I could buy. The sailor was still blocking the path when I returned but based on his dialogue, I had already rented the boat and I should be able to reach it. I had to close the game and start again from my last save point.
A more noticeable issue is that the game will often freeze for a second or two during battles. This is a major problem because it often happens multiple times in the same fight. Because the game still registered touch commands while frozen, you'll likely end up picking random attacks if you use the controls at all during this time.
Finally, the English translation needs work. The developer has fortunately responded to complaints of typos, and it seems like some fixes are on the way.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, I actually enjoyed Doom & Destiny Advanced a lot. The game is pretty solid besides for what I’ve mentioned. You only need one hand to control the game and there’s something fundamentally enjoyable about getting better equipment. You’re also rewarded for your exploration by finding hidden areas and items. The worst parts are the ways in which the game tries to be different, like the plot and the class swapping.
Do&De Adv is $1.99 and for that price you get a sizeable game, future updates, and zero in-app purchases. It's a lot less expensive than many iOS ports of the games it's based on. This game gets a recommendation from me as long as you can accept its many flaws.