Players will become the master of the Ultimate Will with Arc System Works, NEXON, Eighting, and Neople’s 2.5 fighter DNF Duel. Adopting the megahit Dungeon Fighter Online for a new genre is no small feat – does it make the jump with panache, or should it have stuck with its roots?
DNF Duel Review
If you’ve ever dived into Guilty Gear -Strive-, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle, or even Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, you’ll clearly see Arc System Works’ fingerprints all over DNF Duel. Combos and flashy gameplay are the name of the game – players will take control of puppet masters, dragon tamers, gunslingers, and even wind wielders as they set out to deplete their opponents’ HP gauge by any means necessary. There’s even the buttrock longtime players have come to know and love.
Controls primarily feature two main attack buttons, skill attacks, and MP skill attacks, but DNF Duel features a few tricks up its sleeve through its MP system. Certain attacks – the ones you really want to unleash – use up MP, which has its own designated meter. It constantly refills and replishines under certain conditions, but you want to make sure it is constantly topped off. Failure to do so leads to exhaustion, which puts players in a disadvantaged state.
There’s also other factors to keep in mind, including the trump card Awakening Skill, the difference between white damage and red damage (white damage is the better of the two), and the guard gauge. However, the gameplay itself is part and parcel similar to their other works. Those who like Arc System Works’ other titles will enjoy what’s on display here, but DNF Duel plays things far too safe. Guilty Gear -Strive- set the bar incredibly high, and the bog standard gameplay and paltry roster just do enough for a passing grade.
This same standard is applied to the rest of DNF Duel’s options. For those flying solo, players can fight against the CPU in its Arcade, Survival, Free Battle, and Story Mode. In the case of the latter, players can dive into a world of talking heads and each characters’ motivations around Will as they travel across planes and contend with the mysterious Nemyr. It’s a largely cliche anime fare, but those with a penchant for anime stylings will enjoy playing through this mode with each character.
Rather, the main draw of the game is its online component. The game certainly has the right structure in place; players can deck out their player profile around when they usually log in, one can select their Duel Rank from the get-go to make sure they’re not outclassed or bored from the offset, and there’s even the chance to play through single player content while you’re waiting for the next battle. Time will tell if it catches on, but we appreciate what is present.
Outside of these standard content options, players can also save replays and unlock illustrations, sounds, and movies in its Gallery. Again, nothing out of the ordinary, but still a welcome addition for longtime fans of Dungeon Fighter Online.
While DNF Duel’s MP system adds a new layer to the fighting game genre, this title plays things far too safe. Fans of Arc System Works’ other fighters will enjoy throwing down as wind wielders and puppet masters, but the studios’ other titles manage to do everything on offer here.