Korgan Review: Dungeons and Draggin'

Despite a few novel ideas, Korgan fails itself with clunky controls, antiquated gameplay, and mindless combat.

On paper, Korgan seems like a can't-miss idea. It's a dungeon crawler in the style of Diablo, but with a Gauntlet: Dark Legacy level-based and episodic sheen. 

It also introduces the concept of swapping characters on-the-fly to solve puzzles, unleash powerful combo attacks, and advance through challenging dungeons, which, again, is a great idea on paper. Unfortunately, all of these interesting concepts don't come together to create a wonderful melange. They come together to form a big pile of flavorless, beige nothing.

screen shot from Korgan revealing its shoddy graphics

When you boot the game up for the first time, you'll notice two things: 

  1. Codestalkers, the developers behind Korgan, did a great job on the music.
  2. The game is, sadly, very ugly.

The title screen gives you a way-too-close-up view of the character models you'll be playing as for the rest of the game, which is an interesting choice given that one of the advantages to developing an isometric dungeon crawler game is that the camera is always going to be far enough away from the character models that nobody will notice their weird, dead eyes.

Having said that, none of this matters if the gameplay is solid. After all, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and Diablo II don't look great either, but they both still hold up even today given their crunchy, satisfying combat and exploration-focused gameplay.

Unfortunately, Korgan fails here too. 

The core gameplay concept in the game is the ability to swap between a tanky warrior, a spell-slinging mage, and a nimble hunter, on-the-fly, in order to vary your battle options. But the three characters simply aren't balanced in a way that makes swapping between them fun or helpful.

a character traversing over lava

The warrior, in particular, is almost useless early on as anything but a damage sponge, given the fact that he has a regenerating armor bar that nullifies any incoming hits. He just doesn't hit hard or fast enough to be useful, and he's also the only character of the three that doesn't have a long-range attack.

Korgan is the most frustrating type of game: a game that is built on a promising concept, but does not have the courage to fully lean into it.

Your other two characters, the mage and hunter, are both ranged characters, which sounds super helpful until you realize you can only fire in the direction you're facing. There's no auto aim or lock-on to help with this, and the projectiles you fire are just small enough that they'll often sail past an opponent you think you should hit.

This makes combat incredibly frustrating, and that's not even counting the fact that every model in the game moves around the dungeons like they're on ice, which can sometimes cause you to slide right into a trap or enemy. 

The best way to go about fighting enemies is to move right up to them with the hunter, unleash triple arrow shots one after the other, then take cover for a while to regain energy. Does this sound fun? It's not.

This all might be forgiven if Korgan's maps, objectives, and gameplay loops were satisfying. But so far in this episodic romp, they're not. More episodes will be released, but the first two are incredibly similar. Objectives cycle between collecting items and bashing enemies, and there really is no variety to be found other than that.

And that's the real nail in the coffin for Korgan. Dungeon crawlers need variety to shine. Diablo's loot management, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy's multiplayer gameplay full of hidden secrets -- both of these games offer variety to break up the monotony of romping through dungeons.

The ideas behind Korgan made me think that it could join these ranks. Unfortunately, Korgan is the most frustrating type of game: a game that is built on a promising concept, but does not have the courage to fully lean into it. As it stands now, the characters don't feel all that distinct, there's very little impetus to swap characters on-the-fly (with the exception of a combo move that you can learn early on), and the missions are all samey. Time will tell whether future episodes will mitigate some of these problems, but even if they do, does it make a difference if it's not fun to bash on baddies?

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Having trouble traversing the traps in Korgan? We've put together a beginner's guide just for you! Be sure to stick with GameSkinny for more news, tips, and information.

Our Rating
4
Despite a few novel ideas, Korgan fails itself with clunky controls, antiquated gameplay, and mindless combat.
Reviewed On: Xbox One
Games Korgan Genres AdventureRPG Platforms Xbox One
Published Apr. 30th 2018

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