GAME NAME: Excave
DEVELOPER(S): Mechanic Arms
RELEASE DATE(S): February 19th, 2015
I always love trying new dungeon crawler style games, especially since I have been playing Diablo and Balder’s Gate games since they first released. Developer Mechanic Arms has brought their take on the genre, Excave, over to the West for all of us to try and possibly get our dungeon crawler fix. There is no real story in Excave except to find out what’s causing all the monsters to appear in the labyrinth down below and the King is sending adventurers into it’s depths to solve the problem.
The game starts out with you choosing to select a male or female adventurer to control while exploring the labyrinth. You start out by appearing in the entrance of the labyrinth and find that there are different colored doors all throughout that require a key having the same color to open it. As you progress, you fight many enemies while trying to gather all the treasure at the same time, but your inventory can only hold so much. This can cause an issue at times and you will have to escape back to the village by holding “X” to sell or throw some items in your stash. The issue isn’t necessarily teleporting back to the village, but that you have to start from the beginning of the labyrinth almost every time and have to go back through all the areas you already finished. The village is nothing special and is just the main menu of the game with a static background and options. You can choose to use the blacksmith option to repair broken weapons or buy new ones and the item shop to buy potions and other necessary items. The last option is for your equipment and you can sell items here or move items from your stash to inventory.
There is no leveling up in Excave and all of your power buffs or enhancements come from accessories you can equip. The special buffs that these accessories grant honestly don’t even seem to have a huge impact on your play. Weapons that are found within the labyrinth maze are all random, which will cause an extreme annoyance with them taking up precious inventory space if you can’t use them. Weapons are gender specific, such as rapiers, bows and daggers are for the female adventurer and claymores, axes and swords are for the male. I simply call them by their gender due to there is no naming system and they are called male adventurer and female adventurer. You can choose between the two when at the main menu (village), but don’t have to switch if you don’t desire to.
Excave also has no mapping system and can prove bothersome after you’re going through the same areas trying to remember which way you went last. There are also notes you can pick up that somewhat give you hints and tell a vague story plot in one sentence. These are extremely pointless since the story is back seat at all times in this game and the notes just take up inventory space that you desperately need. The controls are very simple with “A” attacking and “B” using your second equip slot, which can be a key or other item. I previously stated that “X” will warp you back to the village if needed and is helpful at times, but it should let you warp right back where you came from.
This game looks reminiscent of an old PlayStation one game and has nothing else standing out from the ordinary. Although, the character designs are well done with a manga style art. It is worth mentioning that even though this is a 3DS eShop title, there is no “3D” functionality whatsoever. The music is a constant repeating mess that will get old and you thank the high heavens there is a volume slider to turn it off.
Excave has potential, but falls so short of being purchase worthy that it hurts. I did read that this was the first in the trilogy of games by Mechanic Arms that will possibly be ported over from Japan. However, they should have ported the other two since those had better critical results and improvements. There isn’t much else to say about Excave except that if they port the other two games over I hope they are better. I’ll end with this, if you want a dungeon crawler game and can possibly overlook a few of the mechanics that make them fun, then go ahead and pickup Excave to see for yourself.