By: Matthew Striplen
If you’re reading this review, we probably have a few things in common. First of all, we’re both probably nerds, and second, we both probably have lots of nerdy, ridiculous friends. Now, imagine you and three of your closest geeky buddies being thrust into an alternate dimension to go on a RPG style adventure. If that sounds good, then you’ll probably enjoy Doom & Destiny.
D&D has a very intuitive control scheme. Since there are few real-time action sequences, snappy controls are not required. Easily the best aspect to the controls is the inclusion of the turbo button. Most RPGs can get a little tedious with level grinding and constant, repetitive battling, but D&D remedies this by speeding up the fights and auto-targeting enemies.
As for the rest of the control scheme, it’s mostly just scrolling through lists and selecting stuff, which is pretty standard. The only quirk is that the game doesn’t immediately lay out all the controls, which left me scrambling for the first few minutes.
This game is obviously inspired by the 8- and 16-bit era Final Fantasy games both in presentation and gameplay. The environments are full of detail, as are the character sprites. Even enemy units have a little variety. Most RPGs have each individual from a unit type appear identical, but this is not the case in D&D. As you can see in the screenshot, individuals often wear different costumes. Little touches like this keep the game from getting stale.
The soundtrack takes a major departure from retro tech and fully embraces modern synthesizers. While most compositions catch the ear, the quality of sound is inconsistent. The opening theme sounds terrific, but sometimes the music appears to run on a less advanced sound processor. Also, certain events can cause an audio glitch that makes the soundtrack disappear until a battle or other event is triggered.
All good RPGs need two qualities: an engaging story and a good combat system. I’m happy to say D&D delivers well on both fronts. Let’s tackle story first.
As mentioned, Doom & Destiny places you in control of four friends (who act suspiciously like my own friends) with the goal being a pretty traditional rescue mission. The writing that goes along with it, however, is comedic gold. D&D is brimming with references to other games, as well as real life references, the first of which being the title.
Without spoiling too much, you’ll find a museum at the beginning filled with thinly veiled exhibits to the Final Fantasy franchise. Also, there’s an old man in a cave declaring how dangerous it is to go alone. If you don’t get that, come back after playing some Legend of Zelda.
Some real life references include an extremely expensive mountain town, famous for skiing, food and being expensive. This particular reference tickled my funny bone because it’s making fun of a certain European country, and as a current resident of said country, I can attest to the high quality of its skiing and food, as well as its extreme expensiveness. Also, you get a party member named Judas. I bet you can’t guess what he does later in the story.
The combat system is laid out just like the classic RPGs of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Attack types are split into physical strikes and spells, which consume mana. There are also options to use items or guard, which is all standard stuff.
Turn order is determined by the character’s stats and also what move was previously executed — more powerful moves set the character further back in the timeline shown atop the screen. Guarding is unique because the player directly controls where the character moves in the timeline.
D&D comes with all the other bells and whistles of modern and classic RPGs, like a leveling system and weapon/armor management. The leveling system provides players with an extra layer of customization by allowing you to decide where the stat boosts go. So, if you have a character with a powerful spell but have crappy magic skills, you can train them up to use it properly.
The overall stats of the party can be further customized by changing the party’s leader and order. Since each “superfriend” has unique strengths and weaknesses, their influence on the party can be altered by their placement.
Like any good Final Fantasy homage, D&D has plenty of hidden bosses and secrets to discover. Secrets usually take the form of treasure or gear, but the bosses pose a tremendous challenge, often greater than the main bosses. If you’re not armed to the teeth and at max health, be prepared to die oh so quickly.
I’ve played many a RPG in my day, both new and old, and I can safely say that Doom & Destiny is one of my favorites in recent memory. It takes a tried and true formula, fixes common problems and is just a well-polished product. Plus, the engaging and hilarious story will keep you coming back for more. While an old school RPG at heart, D&D provides enough humor, challenge and polish to create a truly memorable experience.