The Quest - From Mobile to PC Dungeon Crawler, but was it worth the wait? (Review)

A while back the Hungarian developer Redshift announced they were working on a revamped and improved PC version of their hit mobile crawler The Quest. I was already well aware of Redshift's ability to cook up killer crawlers after playing and completing Legacy with numerous expansion packs. I also logged quite a few hours playing the mobile version of The Quest, even though I don't particularly like playing games on phones. It's hard to explain why, and I'm not going to go into it here. It might be a topic for another day and another article :)

Anyways, weeks passed and I eagerly and impatiently followed the progress of the PC version, ready with money in hand, hoping that they would be able to finish it in time for Christmas, which they did!

The biggest and most noticeable change in the PC version compared to it's mobile counterpart is that the graphics has been completely redone into pure gorgeous high definition lushness. The game was already a visually pleasing crawler with a clear and vibrant color style but now the game really look amazing - in the context of 2D retro dungeon crawlers of course. I say 2D because even though there is 3D involved in drawing the graphics, the game relies heavily on detailed 2D textures and sprites drawn on quads (flat surfaces) instead of complex 3D geometry like we often see in games today. I love the visual simplicity and no-nonsense games like this offer. Most modern games of this genre have a strong focus on presentation instead of expanding and perfecting gameplay. The music and sound effect has also been greatly improved on in this new version. The old music sound far better now and there's even a couple new ones added.

There are five races to choose from in the game: Rasvim (Undead), Etherim (Ranger), Seiry (Thief), Derth (Mage) and Nogur (Warrior). Ever since my first dungeon crawler the Thief class has always been my favorite. I love to sneak around picking locked doors and chests and pick-pocketing unsuspecting victims, so in my first play-through I just had to go with the Seiry race. After selecting race you can accept the default set of primary skills or apply a predefined class template. If you like you can even add and remove primary skills manually thereby creating a completely custom character.

It is common in games of this genre to have a party of four (or more) characters. In The Quest you play only with one character. At first it felt a little bit weird to not be able to play with the typical Fighter, Thief, Cleric and Mage party combo, but after a while I got used to it and now I think it works nicely. One upside to this is that I want to play the game more than once just to experience what it's like with a different class.

When you level up, some of your attributes increase automatically and you get a few points which you can use to increase your base stats or skills. This gives you a choice of direction with your character. If you want to develop your hero into a bow shooting, sword slinging mage with the ability to heal your wounds then you are free to do so :) Specializing on a narrow skill set will of course give you an advantage in certain situations. It all comes down to what you want to do and how you want to do it, because there's no "wrong way" to play The Quest.

The Quest is played in a first person perspective and you move your party of one forward, backward, left and right on what can be best described as a grid, with 90 degree turns. The Quest is in many ways similar to classic titles like Might & Magic 3, 4 and 5 which happens to be some of my all time favorite dungeon crawlers. The combat in The Quest is turn based, which means that the game waits for you to perform an action (move, attack, quaff potion or cast spell) before it executes its own actions. If spotted by enemies they will move one step closer to you for each action you perform until they are within attack range. The enemy AI offers little more than repeated attacks, buffing and debuffing and running away when health is low (they never run far, and often come back for more punishment). Even with a simple enemy AI the game is sufficiently difficult when it needs to be. If an enemy or area is too hard go somewhere else for a while and return back later when you are stronger. Enemies in an area re-spawn if you don't visit for one week. I love this because it means you can revisit old stomping grounds and earn more experience points and get sell-able items, thereby keeping up with your expensive potion quaffing habit :) Equipment deteriorate over time and repairs can be expensive, so it's really nice that it's possible to generate a little bit extra income.

It is only in a combat situation that the game is turn based. Outside combat regular NPC's go about their daily life regardless of what you are doing. This is a nice touch as it makes the world come to life when you see people bustling about.

The user interface has been rearranged a little bit to match bigger screens. A couple buttons has been moved around and some panels have been resized. All buttons, item icons and other user interface elements have been redrawn in higher resolution. I really like it when games have large item icons in inventory (Betrayal at Krondor anyone?) and The Quest does not disappoint. I can't stand it when developers use really small icons where everything looks more or less the same. The biggest change to the user interface is obviously that you now can control your character using a keyboard. All the essential functions can be mapped to keys of choice. You play the game using a combination of mouse and keyboard, and it's really intuitive and quick to get into. Fans of this genre should feel right at home.

The main screen got your basic movement controls and buttons for attacking, casting spells, quaffing potions and setting up camp. A nice feature is the always visible minimap which makes it really easy to orient and navigate. Clicking on the minimap invokes a fullscreen map window showing a larger view of the surrounding area.

Here you can also view a complete map of the Island of Freymore. This is useful to get a better bearing on where you are and where you're headed, as you can see the names of all areas in the world. It comes in handy in quests where you are tasked to travel to previously unvisited locations. On the main screen there's also an ever useful compass, health and mana indicators and your character portrait.

The world in which you travel is huge and for the most part completely open for you to explore, at your own risk of course. Right off the bat when you start the game you have the choice to wander around exploring the world or head to the nearby town pursuing the main mission. There are tons of side quests available. Some are really well designed and interesting, while others are the standard kill that get that type of quests. During your adventures on the Island of Freymore you will visit many towns and small settlements, swamps, forests, mountains, dungeons and more.

As the story unfolds you discover that you are an agent of the king and it's your job to investigate the disappearance of the governor of Freymore. This takes you on a journey through political intrigues, cult disputes and a dark prophecy. First time around I played for 20+ hours without advancing through the storyline at all. This is the strength of The Quest. You never get the sense that it tries to hold your hand, and its non-linear gameplay gives you plenty of freedom to explore and progress.

The dialogues are written well enough and short enough to be interesting, and I actually read most of it :) Many dialogues offer multiple choices with different outcomes. The Quest allow you to develop your character to be either good or evil, and certain dialog choices and actions will affect your alignment. Some equipment and items have alignment requirements, and it really bites when you come across a killer sword with double damage compared what you currently have, only to realize that you don't meet the alignment requirement. It will happen :) Also worth noting is that some quests and events will be available (and consequently unavailable) depending on your alignment.

The Quest is the quintessential old school dungeon crawler and includes all the elements that you expect in a game of this genre. There are customizable classes, main quest and side quests, character progression, day/night cycle, weather system, vendors, item enchanting, alchemy, skill trainers, tons of weapons, armor, magic items, herbs and a huge and open world ready to be discovered, both above and below ground, teeming with different opponents.

It's even got an in-game card game!

While The Quest does not compare well to games like Legend of Grimrock or Dungeon Kingdom in the visual department, it offers a lot more in terms of gameplay elements, depth and replay value. For those of you that have a history of playing old school dungeon crawlers you will feel right at home here and you will discover that The Quest is a pure crawler gem! It is on my top 10 list of favorite dungeon crawlers, and let me tell you - that is a tough list to enter!

The game is currently available on Steam for a ridiculously low price, so hurry on over there and get crawling!

Reviewed by: @zooperdan : Website

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