You might not be able to pronounce it, but comedic dungeon crawler The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is a lot of fun to play. Developed by Artefacts Studio and out today on PS4, Xbox One and Switch, it combines tactical turn-based combat with adventuring and looting to great effect. It also packs in a lot of laughs along the way.
Unlike your typical fantasy RPG, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk doesn’t take itself too seriously. Quite the opposite, in fact. With a cast of fully-voiced characters, it’s a game filled with quips, foul language and plenty of one-liners. It may make you groan from time to time, but it’s a refreshing change from the serious life-or-death tone that many other games in the genre take.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk first released on PC back in September 2020, so it’s not brand new. But it has transferred over to console very nicely, with console controls being excellently implemented. Moving your party around, executing combat moves and navigating menus all feel easy and natural. It feels right at home on console, and for a genre that often stays PC-only, that’s refreshing.
Playing the PS4 version of the game on a PS5 console, however, it’s not been free of issues. I’ve had a handful of crashes at random points of the game, and I’ve experienced a fair bit of screen-tearing. It’s not uncommon for PS4 games to experience some teething issues on PS5 consoles, however, so I’m optimistic these will get ironed out quickly. Thanks to a robust autosave system, I’ve never lost any notable progress with a crash; it’s just an irritation that the game could do without.
Those technical issues aside, however, playing The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is a lot of fun. Like any dungeon crawler, finding loot is always a joy; your large party can be equipped with a variety of weapons and armour to improve their stats. You’ll also find coins, healing items, items that are useful in combat, and more. You’ve got a weight limit, though, so you’ll have to keep an eye on what you’re picking up and make sure you’re not overburdened.
But as fun as it is to find new items, the real joy of The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is its combat. Battles are turn-based, with your heroes and their opponents each being able to move and perform an action each turn. Getting the edge over your opponent isn’t always so straightforward, though. Move in and out of an enemy’s attack range, for example, and they’re able to make an opportunity strike at you. Or move into range of an archer’s overwatch zone and you’ll find yourself struck with an arrow.
There’s a lot of strategy involved, and your success depends solely on the careful planning of your party’s attacks. With each character in your party having a unique skillset, you’ll want to make sure you’re utilising each of them well. Your Thief, for example, isn’t very hardy, but if he sneaks up behind a character he can deal formidable damage. And there’s your Ogre, who’s dumb but tough at close range. You’ll want to place your melee characters in whacking distance of your foes, but keep your ranged characters tucked away in cover. Finding the best positions on the playing field and using your team together is key to victory.
What’s perhaps most surprising about The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is just how easy it is to pick up and play. Unlike other turn-based RPGs, it manages to be simple to learn but still packs in enough depth to feel like a real challenge. A tutorial guides you through the basics early on, but you never feel like you’re drowning in impenetrable information. There are several difficulty options available, so if you’d rather just enjoy the story without worrying about testing your skill in battle, you can do that. But if you like a challenge, whack the difficulty up, and enjoy some truly testing turn-based battles. And believe me, if you’re not prepared or not on your A-game, you’ll be seeing that ‘Game Over’ screen all too quickly.
There’s a lot to The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk. While its turn-based combat encounters may be its main draw, there’s plenty of exploring and adventuring to do, too. You’ll need to use the skills of your Thief to ensure you don’t get unwittingly caught in a trap when you least expect it, or use the brute force of your Ogre to knock down wooden doors, often leading to a stash of loot. Even following through the story, there’s a great amount of content here, but if you choose to wander off the beaten path, you’ll uncover even more.
Hopefully the technical issues will be ironed out soon, but regardless, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is an adventure worth diving into. Even if you have no idea how to pronounce it. (It’s Na-hal-bak, apparently.)