Jack of all trades, master of none. That phrase can define games like Verlies II, a mash up of several genres into one. Each genre representation is a lighter simpler version of perhaps its dedicated game brethren. Verlies II is fun, I found myself looking past many issues and challenging myself to beat each dungeon level. Truth be told, there’s a nitch for games of this type that are not hyper dedicated, that are both easy to pick up and play in short bursts, yet challenging enough to keep in your library. This little indie title does have potential though to hook you into it’s gameplay, and worth an in depth look at what it brings to the table.
Verlies II’s art style immediately reminded me of Darkest Dungeon, another extremely challenging rogue-like, while not as artistically detailed. The comic style art pieces, heavy solid black lines, provides an interesting blend to the action and atmosphere. You are introduced to a kid named “Chink” your first character (yes, I know what you’re thinking about the name, I don’t know either), a professional adolescent, who is looking for a treasure that lies in the dungeons below. WASD keys move you around the dungeon and represent cardinal directions. Dungeon layout is shown at the top right in miniimap form. Lootable objects are shown in yellow in the rooms, making it a little easier to manage dungeon drops. As with many rogue-like games, permadeath is a major thing. Managing your health potions, food, armor and weapon condition on each dungeon trip is critical. As such you may not want to rush and tip over all the berry baskets that restore health when you have full health. You want to keep checking your armor and weapon conditions as items in horrible state do nothing for you.
The good loot is usually held in locked chests, those locked chests have keys, and those keys are attached to the necks of stronger bosses or guardians. Getting to them will mean taking a few licks along the way, and then a ton more at the main chamber. My first playthrough I did not fare so well and was met with a laughing skull at my death. Obviously ridiculing me for dying in this rough dungeon. As I got used to the combat and exploration I began to leave behind the health items and other looted areas until I really needed them. Helping to cut down on potion usage is a big thing, since leaving the dungeon means losing a significant cut of experience. You have to set out and roll the dice on your items and what you’ll encounter. The hack and slash aspect is very light, and easy to grasp. Left click slashes, right click uses shield, numbered buttons 1-4 throw magical powers if you have any at your enemies. You need to keep your cursor on the swaying enemies to connect, and know when to use your shield to deflect some of the damage way. You still take damage for every hit even with your shield up, which leaves even the fast hitting but annoying rats able to gnaw your health bit by bit as you travel into dungeons. Still, once you know which creatures attack faster than others combat becomes pretty simple. Keeping an eye on your stamina (which prevents you from attacking should it drop too low) and health which is always draining it seems. There are plenty of items and skills to
Now my gripes with Verlies are plentiful, for starters the game crashed on me twice. There’s a really annoying sound glitch as the game loads a dungeon. It just screeches at you until it starts playing. Saves don’t really work, actually I never figured out how to QUIT a game so it saves since it’s not the ESC key. When you die, the entire game just restarts. Can you start at your last attained level? Nope. Level +? Nope. Could you have saved the game elsewhere and tried again? Can’t figure out how too.
Anoter issue I has was as you level up you gain skill points. One of the skills is described as ‘vindictive’ which adds +2 HP every two seconds, plus another HP per level. Well putting two skill points into this seemed ultra wise but it didn’t really do anything, from what I could tell in, or out of combat my health was still in a constant state of decay while in combat. Another claims to allow you to use heavy strike, I was thinking it would be a selectable skill. It appears heavy strike is always one. While this skill did increase damage, the loss of stamina and how I would be affected was not. Death is so easy to come by, and it’s a permadeath mind you, that it becomes frustrating finally getting to the 2nd level, only to realize that the skills you picked are worthless and you have to replay everything all over again. Chink, the son of a prostitute and a racist deserter, isn’t happy about this. In town some of the bad explanations continues, you can repair your armor, but its not clear on all the items how much this will cost. The half naked priest lady in the church can identify items for you, the blacksmith can standardize it but what does that mean? I had no idea, since just having them identified seem to work.
Still Verlies II has a little spunk in terms of replayability and charisma. There are other characters to play but it was unclear how to unlock those so I just hung out with Chink. Other characters might expand gameplay options. I hope that some of the crashes, sound glitches, and bad english descriptions are cleaned up quickly, and I have a strong feeling newcomer developer Koya Games will do that. I would also love to see the learning curve, and harsh permadeath curve adjusted and balance early on in the player’s favor. This would help keep me playing for more than 15-30 spurts. I would love to feel the satisfaction of progressing with caution. Experimenting with skills without it meaning my certain death in the next room because I sapped all of my own stamina in two swings. Verslies II is a fun game, despite it’s limited budget there’s a lot to be said for the multi-genre infused game that is being delivered. With some polish the experience would be even better, but as it stands its an above average game with a lot of potential.