Originally posted February 28th 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: 2/19/2015
The main game/story
In this roguelike RPG from developer Mechanic Arms, you take control of two protagonists, a boy and a girl as you set out together to explore the mysterious labyrinth that has opened up, and why so many monsters are appearing as of late.
There isn’t much story to this game, and what story is here is hidden away in secret note items that you will find over the course of your journey. I’ll leave it up to you to go and find the secret notes if you are really interested in the story, as they are meant to be secret.
Similar to games like the original Legend of Zelda and the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, you go through dungeons, defeat enemies, grab keys and open doors to get treasure as you continue to go further into the labyrinth. It’s pretty simple, but without the frustration that usually happens in other games in the genre.
Passable 3D graphics that get the job done, as the characters are well detailed, the items are well detailed, ETC. Sadly when you go through the labyrinth, each section of the labyrinth has a bad habit of looking almost the same on every floor. Luckily it gets better when you go to the different sections of the Labyrinth later on, but after a while you may get sick of seeing blue carpet over and over again. The enemies don’t seem to have much variety either, except when you get to the different sections of the labyrinth. Regardless, it’s not nearly as bad as some other games on the eShop that try to use 3D character models for everything.
Music and sound effects:
For a simple game like this, the music is actually pretty good! The first dungeon theme gives you the sense of adventure, and the boss theme gives you the sense of desperation, as it should. As you go through the different sections of the labyrinth, and their respective dungeons, you’ll eventually hear different kinds of music, all of which sound really good in a way that helps give the player the sense of adventure that they need.
When you first begin the game, you can choose which weapons and items to buy at the local store (You start with some gold and minor items), to prepare for your first trip into the dungeon. In the first section of the first dungeon you’ll learn the basics, using the A button for your weapon and your B button for items and shields. Right after you finish the first part of the game, however you’ll notice where this game really shines. The items you picked up along the way will likely be enough to fill your inventory, requiring you to deposit or sell some items you don’t currently need.
This is a clever concept, as later on in the game you’ll quickly realize one weapon won’t work out, as they’ll eventually break after a certain number of uses, requiring you to visit the blacksmith in town and repair them. Therefore, you’ll need to hold a few other weapons as backup, occupying precious inventory space. Add the fact that you need to hold onto keys as well in order to unlock doors to gain treasure, and your inventory is more important in this game than you may realize.
Luckily, the other character you didn’t pick before can be used if you are filling up with items on your current character. For example, if you find an item meant for the female hero in a dungeon, you can put it in storage as the male hero and take it out of storage as the female hero to use right away. This leads to some situations where the male hero may be good at defeating the enemies in a certain section, only to later have the female hero come back and use keys to gain the treasure you might have missed.
That being said, you will inevitably lose after a while, as sometimes enemies might get the best of you. If this happens, you’ll end up losing a few equipment items or some gold depending on the situation. Luckily it’s very easy to prevent this as you can escape from the labyrinth at anytime by holding down the X button. This risk and reward gameplay helps to remove the frustration caused in other games in the genre, namely those that have 99 floor dungeons without any breaks whatsoever, and makes it a great game for those just getting used to the genre.
In conclusion, Excave is a really fun and addicting roguelike, with awesome music, a lot of floors to explore, enemies to defeat and items to find, it’s a game that’s well worth the $5 asking price. If you are someone out there who is still waiting for a new Pokemon Mystery Dungeon or 2D Zelda, this should be a great alternative to pass the time. Hopefully Teyon will localize the sequel Excave: Sorcerer of the Underworld as well. I give Excave an 8 out of 10, and strongly recommend it to any fans of roguelikes.
Thanks to Teyon for the review code.