As a newly launched title on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre is somewhat of an intriguing prospect. The first high-definition (HD) release from Nexon Europe, Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre is a scrolling beat-‘em-up delivered in a 2D fashion, presenting depth where usually there is none. An interesting prospect for sure, and the results are more entertaining than you may at first think.
Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre is obviously inspired by Nexon’s many steps into massively multiplayer online (MMO) waters, featuring many mechanics that will feel familiar to fans of the genre. Everything from the levelling-up system to the collection, sale, dismantlement etc. of weapons and items, this is a videogame which was deigned for an online multiplayer experience right from the very start.
The player begins the videogame with a tutorial that begins with the basics of the side-scrolling combat, before throwing them straight to the hub. At the hub players can chat to the locals to receive new quests (or rewards for completed quests), learn new skills and buy new items. However, there is never any information on how to do any of this; Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre oddly tells you that in this videogame about fighting the main button on the controlling punches, but offers no aid on what this would do during sequences of downtime.
As might be expected, new weapons, armour and skills all have significant advantages but may also present new disadvantages. As the player grinds through the levels they will earn new bonuses and become able to use new items/skills, but some require a significant time investment; and for that, ‘grind’ certainly is the most apt word. Again reflecting its MMO heritage, Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre asks the player to repeat areas many times (offering subtle changes in difficulty such as increased numbers of enemies with additional abilities) in order to unlock new quests and subsequently new areas. This may be a scrolling beat-‘em-up in terms of gameplay, but the structure is inherently geared towards online play. Much like Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, gamers of any variety of characters and levels can meet before one-off missions, and then choose whether to continue or leave once each has been completed.
The three characters are available from the start of the videogame, each of which varies significantly in their abilities. Basic moves, special attacks, jump attacks and power combos; the combat system is much like any scrolling beat-‘em-up, but here special moves have a cooldown period between use rather than simple damaging the user. There’s obviously less skill involved with the wise timing of their use, but by contrary they become available as combo openers or finishers, adding a new dimension to the well worn formulae.
The visual quality of Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre is surprisingly well presented. The combination of grainy anime visuals in-game and animated comic strips to advance the story is wholly enjoyable, and even the most eccentric neo fantasy design feels at home in such as wide ranging universe, designed to push the accepted limits of it’s genre with each new plot twist. While it may look like your average high fantasy in screenshots, in-game it takes on a life of its own. Sadly, the sound design doesn’t follow suit, delivering worn out ‘gamey’ scores and frequently reused effects.
Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre is likely to be a very misunderstood videogame. Fans of both role-playing games of any kind and scrolling beat-‘em-up titles will love the combination of progression systems and immediate real-time action, but it could well be argued that the gameplay lacks flexibility. There isn’t the option of simply playing through the story like a typical representation of the beat-‘em-up genre, nor is there opportunity for players to develop cross-class characters; Dungeon Fighter LIVE: Fall of Hendon Myre is a title which combines two genre, but misses out many of the most modern conventions from both.