These days, very few single player games manage to make a player scream in frustration. All the anger seems to come from lag and hackers in online FPS titles. Diamond Dan looks to change that, offering a simple, addictive experience, and one which will induce ill temper with every single death.
There’s very little to this title. You play as Dan or Ann and descend into towers with two main goals: grab treasure, and find maps to new towers. Sound simple? The towers in this game are absolutely littered with traps, ranging from water pits to spikes, to crumbling/falling blocks of concrete. Alone, these traps are incredibly easy to dodge, but when they’re combined in such a way that you need to analyse the screen before proceeding? Well, for these reasons alone, this game is definitely not as simple as it sounds.
The game takes on the 2d perspective of a platformer, but there is one crucial difference which separates this game from others in the field. Instead of being a simple 2d platformer, this one has players swap between 4 different sides of the tower. This introduces a whole new level of difficulty. It’s quite dark in these dungeons, and if you’re running at full speed to avoid different traps, the last thing you want to do is turn a corner only to get suck at a block and impaled by spikes.
Thankfully, you can change the difficulty of the game. If the difficulty is at ‘easy’, the less traps you’ll see and the more light there will be. Alternatively, if you put the difficulty to ‘extreme’, there’ll be a large amount of traps and far more of the level will conceal itself in the darkness.
Because of this, only the very best players will be able to pass the levels with ease at a high difficulty level. This game was never meant to be a deep platformer but instead plays a bit more like an arcade title. The fact that the levels stay the same for the most part might have players believe they can come up with a safe route to the bottom, but in truth, this isn’t so easy. Subtle changes in the placement of traps or blocks will throw you off guard, and when you’re running fast to avoid the nearest water pit, there’s little time to stop and think.
Perhaps, for this reason, it should come as no surprise that deaths occur at tremendous rates; but that does not stop it from becoming rage-inducing. One of the worst parts about the game is that it is often incredibly difficult to tell which way a spike pit is facing, so it’s hard to proceed speedily. If you happen to trigger a trap by accident – especially a spike pit – you’ll need to be very lucky to avoid it, as the controls are clumsy and don’t really allow for reaction-based movement.
To help when the going gets tough, each character has a special move in addition to their moving/jumping capabilities. Whilst controlling Dan, players can push blocks in any direction and can double-jump to reach greater heights with ease. Ann, on the other hand, carries a pick-axe, which can be used to destroy blocks and traps for good. These capabilities go a long way in making the game beatable and varied, and can often be the difference between life and an excruciating death.
The presentation of the game is of notable quality. The use of dark to portray the unknown is effective, and the light we do have shows us the beautifully polished scenes of towers ranging from ancient temples of South America to castles of modern day Europe. A bit more variety would be nice in terms of blocks, and one can’t help but feel the style of the characters does not quite match that of the background art. The sound, right from the menu soundtrack to the screams of death we hear from the protagonists, can only be described as ‘fun’, and lives up to a good standard.