LifeisXbox’s Despot’s Game review | Welcome puny little human, to the Despot’s Game! Here you’ll have to face all sorts of monsters and machines, and you will undoubtedly perish, just like many others did before you. Despot’s Game was made by Konfa Games and published by tinyBuild. Psst. Yes, you there. The machines are the ones in control here, but you didn’t hear that from me, alright?
Most Memorable Moment
Finding the many references I did was pretty fun, but there’s no “worse” feeling I had than when I slowly, in fact, room by room, lost all my upgraded humans until defeat. It was memorable and disappointing, but it’s part of the challenge.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox One | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Intense soundtrack | When I initially started the game, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that its soundtrack truly rocks—not in the sense of rock ‘n’ roll, but you get the idea. With each biome (chapter) having its own soundtrack, the electronic music composed for this game has a lot of vitality and is enjoyable to listen to.
- Story? What’s that? | The story is more like a background than anything else in the game. All you know is that you, a group of humans, wake up in a mysterious place with a robot saying you’ll have to fight to survive in the dungeon ahead of you and that he doesn’t expect you to survive for long. You’ll get tiny pieces of info from quests and events, but it’s not elaborated much, which is completely fine, as it gives room for the gameplay to shine.
- An exciting combo | The tactical, auto-battle, and roguelike genres are effectively merged in Despot’s Game. There are 11 classes with varied stats, available abilities, melee and ranged attacks, and a specific 7×7 area in which you can place your troops; the order in which you do so matters. The only control you will have during combat is this since once it begins, there is nothing you can do to stop it. The game has more than 100 mutations, which are buffs and other modifiers that will either aid you or be a hindrance to you in combat in various ways, falling under the roguelike genre. You can find mutations by completing certain rooms or buying them with tokens. There’s also a PvP mode where you’ll fight regular enemies to get mutations and fight teams made by other players.
- Complex, but in a fun way | Every class has ability levels, but these are only levelled up when you have a certain amount of humans of the same class with different weapons/equipment. If a human dies, the ability level of his class will go down, but you’ll have to be careful to not add new humans with old equipment as if not placed correctly, they’ll basically become cannon fodder. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a 7×7 area for you to place your troops in, and yes, you can have all that space filled in a run. Some humans will take more than a tile if given a certain equipment/weapon, I only found one of these, but I believe there are more. You can teleport between specific rooms, which will help you save food, so always keep an eye out for those. You can also unlock and choose between different difficulties and even your starting team, which will help you keep your strategy fresh, or at least choose one that feels right to you. Your characters will also gain experience to level up, which will increase their stats. A shop can also be found on a floor, where you’ll be able to buy weapons/equipment, humans, or food, and it can be upgraded and re-rolled. Defeating bosses will reward you with an item that can heal, revive, add a robot to your team, add humans, etc.
- I understood that reference | There are plenty of different references you can find during your time with Despot’s Game. I found references to The Boys, Spiderman, Doki Doki Literature Club, Rick and Morty, Terminator, “Peace, Death”, Star Wars, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Portal, and Half-Life, but I know there is a Jojo reference and I’m sure there’re others I haven’t seen/recognized. These references can come in the form of items, characters, quests, and random events. I always like to find references from other media in video games, and these didn’t disappoint me in the slightest.
- Events and quests | At the beginning of every level, there are random events that, based on your decisions, might either result in positive or negative outcomes. In one instance, I was given the option to equip prosthetics that would have increased the damage my shooters could deal, but the game warned that there was a potential they would go blind and start attacking in melee range. Additionally, there are quests that you can find in particular areas; these quests frequently need you to travel to another room to save a person or retrieve something, and they may contain allusions. Additionally, I came upon a task in which I could choose whether to kill someone or not; the result would affect the benefits I received. The rewards/misfortune from both the random events and the quests can be mutations, human deaths, and tokens.
- Puny human struggles | It takes a lot of resource management and planning to get through these “dungeons,” so it’s no simple task. Keep a watch on your food supply, which is indicated by the yellow number in the image below; the more humans you have, the more food you’ll need to keep them from losing strength and defence. However, in an emergency, you can also sacrifice people for food in any room you locate. Does this mean you’re going to cannibalise them? Perhaps, but it does the job. Food can be purchased with tokens in designated rooms. You’ll also have to ration the previously mentioned tokens, as they’re used to buy not only food but also more humans, weapons, and equipment, so don’t spend it all in one place!
- Familiarities | It should come as no surprise that this roguelike made me think of another roguelike that I regularly played, but I still thought it was important to mention. Despot’s Game had a different sense of humour and gameplay from The Binding of Isaac Rebirth, but it nevertheless used the same idea of exploring several dungeon floors, earning upgrades, and taking on bosses with an isometric camera.
- Extra content | If you enjoy The Binding of Isaac Rebirth‘s challenges, there’s a DLC for Despot’s Game that has challenges that are pretty similar to them, but in a simplified way. You have to go through a floor with a specific team, weapons/equipment, and items. The floor doesn’t have many rooms on it, but it’s still pretty challenging and interesting.
- Nothing | Scroll further human, there’s nothing to see in this section.
What we Disliked
- A tiny, but recurrent problem | The only issue I found in Despot’s Game is that when you have a lot of humans in your team, framerate drops occur when moving through rooms.
How long to beat the story | 4+ hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 10+ hours
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Hi there, I’m Gabriel Colombo (Hence my reviewer name), I live in Brazil and I’ve been gaming since I was around 5 years old. Xbox became my main platform on the Xbox 360 era, before that I had played a bit on PC, Polystation (basically a skinned SNES), PlayStation 1 and 2. I really enjoy to experience immersive worlds, but I also enjoy playing silly games to have a laugh or just have fun.