I imply this within the kindest manner potential: DNF Duel is a ridiculous combating recreation. With the sport coming from anime fighter pioneers Arc System Works and Marvel vs Capcom 3 builders Eighting, DNF Duel has some actual combating recreation pedigree that ought to, on the very least, be competently designed. After getting my fingers on it, “competently designed” is the tamest approach to describe this high-octane gem of a combating recreation. DNF Duel prioritises the rule of cool always, and past the numerous forged and good enter designs, it’s simply pure, easy enjoyable.
At first look, it’s exhausting to not evaluate this to Granblue Fantasy Versus – one other Arc System Works-led combating recreation foray into the universe of an absurdly in style abroad on-line RPG. In the case of DNF Duel, it’s primarily based the South Korean beat-em-up MMO Dungeon Fighter Online, a recreation that’s one of many highest-grossing leisure media IPs of all time, not to mention video video games.
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Being an enormous Granblue Fantasy fan however a whole novice to the world of Dungeon Fighter Online has made the roads to launch for each of those video games such a night-and-day expertise. While it was a blast predicting which of my favorite story characters would pop up in Granblue Fantasy Versus, the DNF Duel character roster thrives purely on vibes for me. Rather than bringing in named characters from the lore of the collection, each playable character is predicated on one of many playable courses from the unique recreation, and with 16 base courses that every sport about 4 separate sub-classes and a number of costume/character appearances to every sub-class, there’s rather a lot to tug from. The recreation doesn’t skimp, with a 16-character sturdy day one roster full of assorted selections.
DNF Duel shares the identical 2.5D cel-shaded aesthetic that current Arc System Works video games have, so each character is rendered in a slick anime-adjacent artwork model that completely blurs the road between 2D and 3D. Even with none prior information of the collection, it’s exhausting to not fall in love with a few of these character designs. Characters that appear fundamental on paper, just like the self-explanatory Grappler or the ninjutsu of Kunoichi, have an additional sprinkle of persona to their appears to be like that make them a lot extra than simply the cookie cutter stereotype their names indicate. More on the market designs just like the tiny, evil puppeteer Enchantress or the Ghostblade with a glowing demon-arm and a Stand-style spirit companion simply ooze cool to me. Despite every character having origins as a blank-slate participant class, they’re all given simply sufficient distinctive appeal and persona in DNF Duel to really feel like actual, fleshed out heroes and villains.
Once you choose your most well-liked Adventurer and hop into battle, you’ll should put a while into studying the distinctive but surprisingly approachable mechanics of DNF Duel. Like Granblue Fantasy Versus and even upcoming fighters akin to Street Fighter 6, DNF Duel goals to invent new options to the issue of mechanical assault inputs past the tried-and-true auto-combo system. In this recreation, you’ve obtained two normal assault buttons, a ability button, and an MP ability button. All 4 inputs have directional variations, however MP expertise are notably highly effective assaults that drain your numerical MP meter on use. Your meter recharges over time, however should you handle to empty it to 0, you’ll enter Exhaustion and be with out regenerative MP till sufficient time passes otherwise you land some non-MP assaults. Each MP assault has a easy one-direction enter, however should you bust them out with quarter-circle or Z motions as a substitute, they’ll use much less MP.
So, right here’s the factor. In most combating video games, the concept is that your singular assaults, even with simple-input strategies like these, are simply sort of okay on their very own – exterior of some stellar particular assaults, you’ll ideally need to be stringing collectively a number of buttons to create overwhelming strain and prolonged combos. DNF Duel is not any totally different in that regard, however what’s very totally different about this recreation is that each single button at your disposal is down proper ridiculous.
It isn’t simply one-button MP assaults that create big flaming projectiles or homing teleportation rays, your regular assault buttons have a number of the wildest properties I’ve ever seen in a big-budget combating recreation. Ghostblade can teleport, Ranger can shoot you quicker than a body, and each character outfitted with a sword has a normal assault vary of “so far as you may probably think about a sword reaching, after which double that.” It’s genuinely fascinating and laugh-inducing to discover the wild assaults everybody on the roster is supplied with, and it’s the sort of genuinely jaw-dropping, heart-warming sense of discovery I solely expertise with weird, sarcastically good area of interest combating video games.
DNF Duel is a lot extra than simply kusoge-style combating recreation cheesiness, although. The mechanics at play past your MP meter and simple-inputs encourage a very distinctive sense of playfulness that the majority video games fail to. With the power to dodge by way of assaults or flip white-health into combo-extenders and bonus MP on the press of a button, you’re allowed to behave on intuition at each alternative throughout battle. The recreation turns into much less in regards to the psychological juggling act of remembering your optimum inputs when each enter is streamlined with out sacrificing effectivity. It creates moments of split-second choice making that result in a number of the most enjoyable combating recreation encounters I’ve had all 12 months.
Now, as crisp because the fight is, be ready to understand the sport largely for it’s mechanical prowess and beefy roster should you determine to select it up. Single participant choices are slim, with every character having a 45-minute lengthy Story Mode with a bunch of temporary visible novel vignettes that by no means actually go anyplace. you solely must beat a single character’s story to unlock the key boss character. He’s the one substantial unlockable within the recreation, too – there aren’t any bonus character colours, songs, levels, or every other form of substantial unlocks. You can spend cash on avatars and title-cards for the net lobbies, or on a wide range of random promo artwork inside the gallery.
The Rollback netcode ensures that you just’ll by no means have a bitter on-line battle expertise, however the identikit arcade room foyer system feels somewhat misplaced and severely underwhelming in comparison with the various programs and choices in Guilty Gear Strive’s on-line mode. Still, these are minor complaints that fail to detract from the driving drive right here – DNF Duel is easy, foolish, and enjoyable, however with a surprisingly excessive ability ceiling for many who determine to attempt to conquer it.
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