3DS
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Game Info:

Excave
Developed by: Mechanic Arms
Published by: Teyon
Release Date: February 19, 2015
Available on: 3DS
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: E 10+ for Fantasy Violence
Price: $4.99

Thank you Teyon for sending us this game to review!

In the city outskirts there's a labyrinth that used to be a magic research facility.  (Why mages worked there I have no idea.)  In recent days it has become infested with various monsters and a respected magician has gone missing deep inside the labyrinth.  Many have failed at rescuing the magician, will you succeed?

Excave is a simple 3D dungeon crawler that doesn't have much of a story, but provides plenty of sword, axe, bow, or staff swinging action.    You can play as a male or female hero and each gender has specific weapons that only they can wield.  There is no leveling up or stat boosting so you can swap between them at any time.  

If the levels and enemies get harder and your characters remain the same, how is a hero expected to survive the deepest depths of this maze?  Looting and buying the best equipment and ability enhancing  jewelry is essential to your survival.  The trouble with the jewelry is that it eventually fades away and your weapons will break.  While the weapons are repairable by the blacksmith, the jewelry is forever gone.       

There are three slots for jewelry, sixteen inventory spaces and a slot for mapping the A and B buttons.  I typically had my sword in the A button slot and my shield in the B button.  I often swapped out my shield for a magic spell book or a key.  Spell books are temporary and along with keys,  can only be used once.  Using potions and food is as simple as dragging the item to your character's avatar on the bottom screen.  

Excave
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun casual dungeon crawler
Weak Points: Weak story; not enough inventory slots; necessary keys can disappear off the screen 
Moral Warnings: Violence; magic use; undead enemies

The interface is pretty easy to navigate, but having an onscreen map would have been a nice feature to have.  Like many mazes, there are many twists and turns and it would be great to know where you are and where you have been.  

The labyrinth is divided into several locked and color coded mazes,  in order to unlock new areas, you have to go inside each maze and defeat the mini-bosses.  Before you can get the key to unlock the main doors, you have to defeat the section's boss first.  All in all there are fifty levels and five big boss battles.

Before entering the maze it's wise to make sure all of your weapons are in good shape and that you have some healing potions and keys with you for your journey.  You can buy gold and silver keys that can unlock various rooms and shortcuts.  

Since you only have sixteen inventory slots to work with it's best to carry only a couple of keys, a few health potions, and three replacement weapons because they can and will break.  If you know that the enemies are poisonous, you'll need a couple of antidote potions too.    If you're following my advice here you only have five slots to carry loot with when you begin your trek into the labyrinth.  

The enemies are pretty generous with their drop rates and you'll often find weapons, jewelry, food power-ups, jewels, pottery to sell, and the occasional health potion.  The food power-ups are temporary so if your inventory is full, consume some food!  Don't overdo it as you can only have one active power-up at a time.  

Excave
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 87%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Unfortunately, you'll have to act fast when your inventory is full as the item drops vanish after a few seconds. Even the key drops from mini bosses will vanish if you don't have the ability to pick it up.  I wasn't happy redoing that battle.  If you ever find yourself stuck without a key or low on supplies, you have the ability to exit from a maze at any time by holding down the X button.  If you ever die inside of the maze, you will be teleported to the town view with a few items missing from your inventory.  You may be able to recover some of the items where you died if you have enough spare equipment or money to replace your lost items.  Worst case, you can always go back and fight lower level dungeons to loot and sell stuff to get back on your feet.  The beginner weapons are always free so you'll never be unarmed.

Like many dungeon crawlers there are lots of enemies to hack and slash into oblivion. Fortunately there is no blood or gore seen in the process.  If you're not into melee fighting you can use staffs and arrows for long range attacks.  There are some fire, lightning, ice, and missile spells at your disposal if you have the inventory space to hold them.  

At first you'll be fighting globs of goo and then you'll graduate to fighting bees, bats, snakes, bugs, mummies and more.   The mini-bosses are typically larger versions of the standard enemies.  The regular bosses are unique, larger, and more intimidating.  Ranged attacks and magic spells usually work well against them.  

Graphically Excave isn't anything spectacular, but it gets the job done.  The enemies or the mazes are not incredibly detailed and are borderline bland.   I was disappointed that the 3DS' 3D rendering capabilities are not utilized in this game.  

The background music is upbeat and decent, but quite different from other dungeon crawler games I have played.  The title and menu music is fitting,  but when you're exploring the labyrinth the music is better suited for an aerial combat game in my opinion.  

Despite these nitpicks, Excave is a decent hack and slash game that can be picked up and enjoyed in short gaming spurts.  There isn't much of a story and the character development is non-existent.  If you just want to explore and hack away at enemies, Excave will meet those requirements at the affordable price of $4.99 on Nintendo's eShop.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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