Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:00

D.N.Age Review

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Upon first glance, D.N. Age might remind one of Facebook and other various online browser or mobile type games.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, although players who do not like playing those may avoid this; similarities are found everywhere in the first few minutes of playing. For instance, certain actions that take a certain amount of real time to complete; the guided "press here" tutorial; daily rewards; and a general menu of options, places to go, and player information laid on top of a static view of the town. There is no exploration of the town as one might find in, for instance, a Final Fantasy title, or even one where catching monsters is the main premise, such as in Pokemon (most of them at least) or Siralim. These aspects do, however, make for seemingly decreased depth of the game overall, but the DNA merging feature helps compensate for this.

The combat system is pretty laid back, and skippable—so the battle is automatically completed, as opposed to having to wait. The monsters attack independently; this takes away having to continuously click an "attack" button and allows one to speed through an expedition. I think this enables one to accomplish something if one only has a few minutes to play, as opposed to a title where one should spend at least a half-hour to make it worth playing. Monsters in one's party are not leveled up in the traditional sense by battling; once one obtains more powerful monsters, the earlier ones quickly begin to seem weak as one progresses. They can be released for a nominal amount of gold, but seem useless otherwise; a method of evolving or upgrading these monsters would help keep them relevant in the later parts of the adventure. The assistant does level up, but the only unlocks that are granted by this are additional ways to customize her appearance; I have not noticed any in-battle bonuses resulting from a higher level assistant.

Instead of being able to level up one's party, the player obtains monsters and then merges them; the outcome is dependent upon the genes of each monster. Analyzing the details of this system is not simple, as it is dependent upon genetics and relevant terminology—one simply should play this for a more hands-on experience with this merge feature. One or more traits with a particular combination of genotypes grants a bonus, while the others do not. This is a neat feature, however, in at least the first few monsters one discovers, there are only a few traits. Once the player obtains an upgraded monster from this process, it does not seem as if the player can earn a monster of that particular type that is yet more potent. Nor does there appear to be an implementation of varying stats between monsters of the same type and traits, such as by implementation of random mutations. This feature would have provided more incentive to merge monsters continually, trying to get the ideal one; but, motivation declines once one has produced the seemingly most powerful monster of that particular type, and have created enough monsters with the most desired traits. It does seem, however, that later monsters have more traits, so attempting to produce the ideal monster of that type would require multiple breedings.

There is also an element of luck when it comes to progressing in the game.

As one needs monsters to merge and build one's party to be stronger, one thereby needs to obtain monsters to begin with—this is a chance drop, and even then it is not a guarantee that one will get a monster with desired traits. The DNA feature does not, at first glance, seem too intricate, but attempting to do a short exposition on the feature is not the easiest task; nor does it do the feature justice—one has to play D.N. Age. This DNA feature is perhaps the most involved aspect of the game and helps ensure success and progression if one spends an adequate amount of time exploring and mastering it. Nor is this exactly a feature for someone looking for a casual experience; rather, merging properly requires a little bit of planning to obtain the desired results. It is rather neat and innovative; other RPGs may boast similar features, but none (at least from what I have experienced) have a DNA-based aspect to the game.

So far, there are only 25 monsters, which is a fair number, considering that each monster has its a set of traits to add variation; it would be neat to be able to combine monsters of different species—unlocking new species, allowing the player to explore one's creative side. The music is good, although since playing D. N. Age is a relaxed experience, one might expect a tranquil soundtrack, particularly while in the town. Overall, gameplay is smooth: there are virtually no load times or lag.


The Verdict

D.N. Age is a tough one to recommend, but for an RPG fan who is looking for a casual experience or is interested in the DNA merging feature which is the cornerstone of this title, check this one out. One may be underwhelmed by the inability to explore and the similarities between this and browser or mobile "freemium" titles, which hopefully the DNA merging will help make up for.

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Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.