Game Title: Brave Dungeon + Dark Witch’s Story Combat
Developer: Inside System
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 4 – 6 hours
Download: 872 MB
When The Legend of Dark Witch graced the PS Vita with its presence, I had a blast playing it, and really wish its two sequels had also come over. Due to that and the mass interest in the Switch since March of last year, I have never gotten around to booting up my New 2DS XL to grab Legend of Dark Witch 2 and 3 to play through.
Though that isn’t to say I haven’t played any other games of the series. There have been two spin-off titles from the Legend of Dark Witch series, and both of them are available to play on the Nintendo Switch. The first is Rudymical, the Dark Witch Rhythm Game, though I have only played the demo of that title.
The other, however, is a dungeon-crawling RPG and really scratched my RPG itch while letting me avoid the grind-fest that is where I am in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Now that I have completed the game, it is time to review it. First released on the 3DS and now on the Switch with new content, here is my review of Brave Dungeon + Dark Witch’s Story: Combat!
Brave Dungeon tells a tale similar to that of The Legend of Dark Witch. A mysterious item known as Syega appeared in the world that allows human to use magical powers. To go away from the main series storyline, Syega is often channeled and trapped within artifacts known as Magic Items to enable humans to use their abilities without being overwhelmed by the magical energy and those items are hidden in labyrinths found all over the world.
The game revolves around a Treasure Hunters named AI, who travels through the world’s dungeons with the goal of going to the bottom floor of the legendary dungeon Godshill, which no one has ever done.
The only downside here is that the story is pretty light. You are given some intro scenes and some brief scenes before each major boss, but there is a lot of untapped potential, given that all of your party members are previous boss characters from the main series that could’ve been fleshed out in the game, but instead remain silent party members that are just there. If you’re new to the series, you’d never know they aren’t just randomly-generated characters.
This game is actually a collection of two games, so you have to look at them separately. You first have Brave Dungeon, which is a turn-based dungeon crawling RPG. Then, you have Dark Witch’s Story: Combat, which is a card-based game that uses a Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic to showcase automamous battles.
First of all, what is here in the Switch version that wasn’t in the 3DS version? By getting the game on the Switch, you get a few new party members, including Neville from The Legend of Dark Witch 3, and the whole Dark Witch’s Story: Combat game is completely new as well.
Let’s dive into Brave Dungeon first. The progress of the game takes you back and forth between the 5 dungeons the game offers and the base of operations, where you can customize and enhance your party members.
Let’s start by explaining combat. This is a very light RPG, giving you Skill Points that replenish after every battle called Capacity. In battle, you regenerate a little capacity each turn, and using any skill uses a certain amount of Capacity. Later on in the game, this gets more strategic as you learn skills that have much higher capacity costs and cannot be used very often. The exception is the Revenge / Ultimate Attack. If you get attacked enough, you can use your character’s Revenge Attack, which is basically their Ultimate Attack, always being a super-powerful attack that can either do mass damage to the opposing party or supports/heals your own party.
Like most RPGs, you gain EXP as you fight and will eventually level up. However, leveling only really increases your HP, making you head back to town to spend money on various facilities to increase your other stats. This includes spending to increase their stats manually, creating materials and accessories from your inventory items to enhance them, and trading materials to the Quest Merchant at the Inn for Lunch Money, which is used to randomly increase the stats of one of your party members.
There is also the Magic Item system, which is part of the intro’s story. With enough money, you can buy recharging items that can be used either while exploring dungeons or in combat to aid you, like healing party members outside of using skills or filling your Ultimate Gauge, letting you immediately use Ultimate Attacks.
The idea here is that you need lots and lots of money to keep doing these upgrades, which you’ll inevitably need to get further in the game and eventually reach the Final Boss. To do that, you need to dungeon-raid a lot. And that’s really where the nice and bad thing about the game really comes into play, because going through the dungeons and fighting enemies as you explore is fun at first, but really gets repetitive after you’ve done it for a few hours.
This mostly comes down to the fact that the story of the game comes up in the game’s intro and when you challenge the final boss. For the first 4 dungeons that you’re constantly traveling in and out of as you explore deeper floors, you get no story outside of a wacky “Oh, I found the boss. You don’t look happy. I guess I have to beat you up now” scene at each major boss that doesn’t really add anything to the plot or the characters involved.
So, in essence, you clear Floor 1 of Dungeon 1. Then Dungeon 2. Then Dungeon 3. Then Dungeon 4. Then you repeat that for Floors 2, 3, and 4, until you are finally strong enough to brave Godshill and find/beat the Final Boss. It is definitely fun for RPG fans, but it’s a really big bit of repetition since there is literally no plot point before the very end of the game and despite not really grinding the same area ever, it feels like a grind because of how much you do it and how little story or change there is.
Of course, with all of that repetition, it’s not like this bite-sized RPG isn’t giving you bang for your buck. A single trek across the game’s story should take you at least 6-7 hours and clearing it lets you replay the game with New Game + or reload your save to challenge the Secret Dungeon that contains much stronger enemies and semi-random layout designs and bosses, incorporating some rogue elements from games like The Binding of Isaac and Enter the Gungeon.
And then we have Dark Witch’s Story: Combat. This is a card-based game with autonamous battles. You have an Arena where you can pit your cards against opponent’s, and an organization area, where you can spend money to level up and power up your cards to be able to take on higher-tiers of opponents.
The odd thing about this game is that it utilizes a Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic. Every card has a RPS play, and that heavily influences how well that card does in battle. You could have the same card as the opponent and have twice its level, but if you choose Paper and they choose Scissors, you might be scraping by with a victory or be completely blown away from that RPS advantage they’re given.
So, this results in the game being an incredibly-heavy grind, which the game’s tutorial even suggests that you do from the get-go. You will be going into one battle and repeating it over and over and over and over to get money to level up your cards to crazy levels just to beat each battle you come across.
As far as play time, this will likely give you an extra few hours on that total play time, furthering the justification for the price point of $8.99 (vs $4.99 for Brave Dungeon on the 3DS), but only if you enjoy grinding and semi-random mechanics deciding your battle outcome.
Controlling the game is pretty easy, as all of the controls can be done with the actuall buttons on the Switch.
You can navigate dungeons either with the Left Analog Stick, Right Analog Stick, or the Arrow Buttons / D-Pad. The L and R triggers are used for changing the stat display for your party members and the ZL/ZR buttons are used for viewing Magic Items and Equipment, respectively.
Finally, of course, are the face buttons. A is used for selecting options in the menu, and B is used for cancelling options. X pulls up the menu while Y lets you see the map of the current floor you’re on.
Graphically, Brave Dungeon does look a little smoother on the Switch than it did on the 3DS. You still have that Retro JRPG look to it with the pixels intentionally made to look like those old graphics, but the look definitely has improved a little bit.
Performance, I have no problems with. It loads quickly and the frame-rate is constant.
Since this is a 2D title of a certain nature, you could expect to get a good amount of Battery Life out of the game. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 16 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 31 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 43 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 02 minutes
As you would expect, you can complete a quick run through the game on a single charge. You get quite a bit of Battery Life.
In conclusion, Brave Dungeon is a cute little RPG for fans of the genre that want a little casual game while waiting for other games or just wanting a break from other games on the Switch. Though it's far from perfect, with the story of Brave Dungeon not fleshing out anything past an intro and both games in this collection being highly repetitive experiences, it's still nice to see the Dark Witch series hitting the Switch and makes me hope we can get the main series games one day.