A Long Way Down, time to duel – First Sip Review
A Long Way Down is a card-based RPG. Mixing dungeon crawling with turn-based battles. Developed by Seenapsis Studio with publishing by Goblinz Studio.
The story in A Long Way Down is about Sam an American who has died. The game opens on Sam waking up in a strange land, hearing the voice of a former acquaintance (possibly a friend). She is performing his funeral rites and as such he is stuck in a limbo in between worlds. From here Sam begins a journey to explore this limbo and collects cards that he can use for various functions. Interestingly Sam mentions a familiarity with the cards as they use them in the living world too. Sam then meets the evil Overlord of this world who will stop at nothing to defeat him before he can find his way out of this maze.
Throughout his journey, Sam will meet other characters and form alliances. You also learn more about his past as well as the lore of this world. For instance, early on we learn that Sam’s father is unknown and his mother was African. It is also mentioned in this dialogue that Sam was “the whitest of the blacks” which would indicate him possibly being bi-racial. As the game continues the story slowly and subtly builds up more information about our hero.
A Long Way Down, uses a very distinctive comic book art style. It looks to be hand-drawn and uses a lot of shadow and contrasts. Characters, enemies, and environments are all really well designed. Animations look fairly fluid in battle. However, It’s harder to see during the exploration stages as the camera is fairly zoomed out.
Overall the art is one of the strongest aspects of the game currently. There are also short cutscenes every so often, notably before battle starts. These look really great, again they carry a strong comic book feel to them, but they are their own thing.
One of the weakest aspects of the game right now is the sound. But it’s not bad by any means. The main issue with the music so far is that they are obviously loops but normally a loop would be seamless. As the loop ends it should tie back into the start so that the listener isn’t aware of the end and beginning. A Long Way Down, however, uses fairly short music clips that tend to finish, then you get a second or two of silence before it starts again. While the music itself sounds quite good and fits well with the game, the noticeable stop and start nature is somewhat distracting.
In contrast, the sound effects are quite well handled. While they are nothing outstanding or unheard of they fit well and sound good.
Gameplay in A Long Way Down is split into two main areas, dungeon-crawling, and turn-based battle. Both gameplay types use cards, however, they use different cards.
Levels are set up as grids, but only some areas have platforms. Sam can move around the grids, but only where platforms exist. Sam also has a limit to how far he can walk in a turn. Moving uses up an action point, three are given each turn and once they have been used the enemies get a turn to move.
While exploring the levels Sam also has a list of “slab” cards which can be used to create platforms (or various other dungeon effects). The deck of slab cards is somewhat randomized so you may not get the type of platforms you need each time. Setting a platform or dungeon changing card uses one of your action points as well. And each turn the Evil Overlord will be able to use one of your cards at random, this can mean that a path you have been making may be destroyed by the Overlord and have to be rebuilt.
It’s an interesting system and it works quite well. As well as Sam and enemies you will also find other interactable things like chests, party members and an Armory. The Armory is particularly notable as it is how you will change your equipment and deck while in a level.
Battles are started when you and an enemy occupy the same square or sometimes as a result of exploring certain squares like a Sarcophagus. Much like the exploration side, you have 3 action points and a hand of cards randomly selected. Using a card will consume 1, 2 or all 3 of your action points and end your turn. Each turn you will also receive some random cards from your deck to replace used ones, however, you can exhaust your deck of cards. When this happens there are two options. Firstly, you can rely on your standard attack card which is always present. Or secondly, you can sacrifice some health to reshuffle the deck.
Battles end when one side has been wiped out if you lose then your run is over and you lose any equipment you had on. If you win, you’ll receive powder for upgrading spells and items, and sometimes item and/or spell cards. When you have multiple characters in your team they share action points and cards, however, with their standard attacks being the exception. Spells and weapons have elements and matching them make the spells more powerful, so there is a lot of tactical choices to make during combat.
For the short demo, I played before Early Access. Which starts on January 16th. The game felt fairly complete and well made. I did have some issues, particularly with the game sometimes allowing me to click to select a card and other times having to drag and drop (on the same cards even). But it was a relatively minor issue. It’s quite an enjoyable game that fans of tactical card games should enjoy. With strong story and graphics to boot. It’s a fairly difficult game at times but it doesn’t feel unfair. At least not the parts I played. Well worth checking out.
In Coffee Terms
In coffee terms, A Long Way Down is somewhat of an acquired taste. While the blend used to be quite popular it’s fallen out of mainstream favor. But a quality coffee like this one should be enough to win back old admirers. And of course, seduce some new ones too. The flavors are all there, with a presentation that the older blends just couldn’t come close to. Well worth a sip.
A Long Way Down Links
A Long Way Down Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.