Dark Deity - The Regression of Fire Emblem

Because I love prefacing things so much, I’m going to do so a bit here. To start, I have no stakes in Dark Deity whatsoever. I didn’t back it. I didn’t even play it myself. You could say this is coming from the point of view of… an FE fan, if you can call me that. You might be familiar with my previous longpost thread , “Why Three Houses Actually Sucks” (but you probably aren’t). I do wish I could say I am writing this because I thought I could help the developers make their game better. Frankly, it is a bit late for that because the game is, according to them, “complete”. In honesty, I feel some mix of frustration and disappointment. I truly feel bad though for the people who backed this game only for the dev team to have the gall to call what is currently available on Steam anywhere close to a finished product coming from, as I understand, $74,000 of backer money. As before I will be splitting this into several sections, and there may be spoilers so continue reading at your own risk.


To be upfront, my opinion is not going to be a very reliable source of information here, considering I missed parts of the narrative and otherwise just couldn’t bring myself to care. What I can say verifiably is that the delivery of the story is incredibly choppy and just generally… all over the place. More than once I needed to deeply consider what just happened, why we are suddenly somewhere completely different, or why this random background character really needed to chime in with a line that added absolutely nothing to what was being delivered. You’ll likely find yourself doing many double takes as to what happened to that character whose piece of the narrative got no closure. Why the incompetent villain acts, well, completely incompetent, is called out for it, and then nothing happens. Why we are suddenly in outer space. To sound probably pretty lame, this seems to be a TVTropes goldmine. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be taking anything seriously either with supports about (creepily) taking baths together, when the main character’s father only has one facial expression and thus smiles while talking about his deceased son, with Awakening style VA grunts of a character yelling his own name… I think the gist of my point here are the moments that I feel like are supposed to be taken seriously or seem to try and evoke some sort of emotion that just fall completely flat. This is putting aside the purely grammatical issues (most noticeably, punctuation missing all over the place).


I think “not good” would be a fair starting point here. There’s a lot of what makes Fire Emblem good that is just… wholly absent here. The painfully obvious, I suppose, is permadeath. Obviously this feature adds a lot of stakes to game. You will of course consider your movements more carefully when there is that sort of gravity to them. Recently FE has strayed away from this sort of gameplay which is frankly unfortunate and I’m disappointed to say Dark Diety does the same. In fact I would go so far as to say Dark Deity is the lowest stakes SRPG gameplay I have ever seen. Characters dying just doesn’t matter. So what’s left of strategy then? Well, actually, literally nothing. You spend the whole game facetanking. Just walk forward, kill the enemies. Hell, why kill the enemies when they just kill themselves? Saves you the trouble of having to wrestle with the controls to actually do anything to just let them kill themselves onto you. You might respond, but units lose stat points when they die! Surely that incentivizes keeping your units safe. Well actually, this feature really just doesn’t matter ever. Even when the stat lowering actually works (plenty of -0s abound) the likelihood of lowering a stat that even matters is slim… and even then stats are so inflated that a few points cut really doesn’t matter either. Even after dying at least 10 times I witnessed Irving just going on his merry way through endgame.

This is, of course, if you play the game in a fashion that a unit you care about dying can actually die at all. If you have experience in higher difficulty modes on Awakening, you may be familiar with the part where Robin solos the entire game with nosferatu tomes. Well, you’re in luck in Dark Diety, because not only is there no weapon durability (or even actual weapons - more later), but nosferatu is actually just an innate class skill! On several classes such that any magic unit can promote to a class with innate nosferatu! You can, I hope, assume where this is going. The unit balance is just atrocious. With permanent nosferatu and not even bad defense or HP (one mage in particular having a towering 140+ HP by the end of the game) mages just blow the rest of the game out of the water. There was no attempt to even consider the ramifications of balancing different weapon ranges, having 1-2 range - an exclusive asset to mages because of the aforementioned weapon system - is just better. I don’t think there’s much that could be more telling then a strategy game where the moves you make or the units you lose don’t actually matter, but I’ll continue for the sake of continuing because I find myself losing the less major problems in the mess of the most major ones.

Let’s talk about map objectives. More specifically let’s talk about the advertising of Dark Deity making such bold claims as “no level is as simple as kill the enemies”. This is, as one might say, a big fat lie. The objectives are the same as you all know them. Rout, kill boss, “defend”, arrive (seize but anyone does it). There are a few escape maps that are just actually arrive. There is also one that actually is escape where all the units need to do it. Astonishing consistency aside, there is absolutely nothing new or innovative to be found here. What the game does do is try to word these goals more elegantly to try and make it seem like it is not these things. I should restate that it is in fact unequivocally these things, and not only that, the awkward wording only serves to make it hard to tell what it is you’re actually supposed to be doing in the first place.

Map design… is something of a can of worms. I really don’t know how to put this eloquently. There have been comparisons to Gaiden. I agree to an extent but I don’t think that’s fair to Gaiden. Maps have no terrain. There are two tiles - floors and walls. There’s a few instances where the game would have you believe there is terrain like water, but it doesn’t matter (yes, you will hear “it doesn’t matter” a lot). How on Earth do you make an SRPG - a genre in which the gameplay is almost solely about unit composition and positioning - engaging in the least without terrain is beyond me, but Dark Deity certainly fails to achieve it. As mentioned before, stakes are low. There is no terrain to consider. All you need to care about is walking forward into enemies. It is, for lack of better terms, wholly dull. The objectives are dull. The side objectives don’t exist. There are no villages to save. There are no chests with thieves ready to open them. The best anti turtle I saw the whole game long was an unclear amount of gold awarded at the chapter’s end being reduced, which I should point out isn’t even an original idea (though the original was nice enough to actually tell you how much it was specifically). Units are just scattered around with no rhyme or reason… not that it matters since all you do is walk a mage into them regardless. Maps are big, very big, unnecessarily big. Remember, there are no side objectives, so what is all the space used for? Well, just… nothing. It exists to further pain you to walk your units longer distances.

I should get to that weapon system I was mentioning earlier. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the weapon triangle. It’s straightforward enough. How about Dark Deity? Well, I would love to tell you about the system if I actually understood how it works. The game would tell you the same thing, as there is actually no in game explanation as to how the class and weapon systems actually function. I assume we are left to guess what things actually mean… a very bad sign for a strategy game. I should reiterate the entire game was completed, with no challenge or difficulty, without even knowing how these systems are supposed to function. Weapons are more like abilities… every unit has 4 preset ones that can be upgraded with tokens. How each of the 4 weapons actually differ is beyond my knowledge, but the yellow one seemed to have the biggest damage numbers so all the upgrades were basically pumped there. If you’re thinking it’s a bad sign that such a simple minded explanation was what I could provide, you are thinking correctly.

On the topic of not understanding things, something brilliant about FE that sets it apart from other RPG games is the simplicity of the math behind it. Stat numbers are relatively low and stray away from complicated multipliers and divisions, so you can actually evaluate how battles will play out ahead of time. Dark Deity throws this out the window, kicks it in the shins and then stomps all over it. A lot of the class skills are just bizarre stat improvements based on awkward percentage values of stats, not to mention proc skills abound. To make matters worse is the constant presence of low percent crits on all of your units. It is a nightmare to even hope to have an understanding of how a battle might actually go down from looking at stat pages because a large portion is random chance and another large portion is incredibly convoluted math.

All in all the experience is just incredibly dull, easy, unbalanced, and feels completely untested. I mean it 100% when I say that there are romhacks with gameplay that received far far far more thorough attention than anything Dark Deity hopes to offer.


The audio and visuals in this game are a mess. Music ranges from okay to awful, and audio mixing is, to be nice, amateurish. Jingles constantly overlay map themes in often garrish fashion, not to mention the wild swings of volumes of different audios. A lot of game elements just lack audio or visual cues altogether - why does opening a door not even play a door opening sound?

Other times, visuals just fail to work altogether, with UI elements not caring about screen positioning. Hope you didn’t need to select the “wait” option on that unit on the bottom of the screen, because the UI buttons don’t adjust to actually even appear on screen. Other times you will get erroneous notifications that never go away such as the support screen thinking a unit has a new support when they don’t.

Even when properly functioning, visual elements are just… bad. The water on the boat map looks horrendous - with a keen eye I managed to recognize it as being a smaller water texture that was just stretched to fit. That is definitely not how water works. Speaking of water, one map had the animated water tiles just disappear for a moment, leaving only the vomit green background. You can see seams in some cloud animations. I don’t even want to get started talking about the maps visually so I will leave it as ugly, jarring, and stylistically clashing. Map sprites aren’t synced in any capacity and it makes the map look far too busy. There are no map battles whatsoever - turning off animations just skips the combat altogether with no indication of how the battle actually went (not without playing the battle theme for half a second abruptly of course). On the topic of battle animations, several just leave the battle frame wandering about through the UI elements. A lot have awkward body shapes and proportions - many have tubes for torsos. The “young mage” character is taller than the final boss. Girls look like men. The sound and screen effects during battle animations are underwhelming and leave a complete lack of weight or impact to units striking. Pausing the game during a battle doesn’t even pause the audio. I feel bad for the excellent animators I know who put a lot of work into these animations because the delivery they were given is quite frankly insulting to me.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about voice acting. My first question is, why in the goddamn did anyone even remotely think it was okay to allocate budget into this with the rest of the game in the current state? It doesn’t add anything to the experience, and in fact I would say it just goes to show how out of touch the developers really are with their project. Nobody really needed to hear VAs giving zany crit quotes or making funny quips or grunts as dialogue plays.

Portrait art is okay. I think this is what I have the least gripes with. Many female designs are, to be uncouth, painfully horny. Breast fitting armor is on full display, with, from what I can gather, little shame. Am I supposed to be taking the character wearing a latex bodysuit in a medieval fantasy setting seriously? And I would rather not get into the kickstarter stretch goal for swimsuit related content.


All in all I found myself impressed with how thoroughly Dark Deity brought out all the facets of the series which I hate that it has adopted over the years, and combined them with a poorly functioning engine and painful controls. There is certainly more criticism to be had that I am forgetting or omitting because processing all of this into words has been a fairly tiring task. I am hopeful that this reaches the developers, or someone on the fence about giving this game a chance, because I want you to know that it really doesn’t deserve it. Again, I am incensed that anyone could look at this and call it finished and have the nerve to charge people money for it. I think it’s quite the spit in the face to the kickstarters drawn in by the promise of a return to the glory of FE by people who seemingly have barely even played FE, and even more seemingly have never even played their own game. I don’t wish to come off as spiteful - I would have loved to be instead writing about how much I loved this game and how it brought back what I liked about the series in the first place, but it does exactly the opposite of that despite the bold and unfounded claims by the developers.

As always I am open to feedback and I would love to hear your thoughts whether you agree with what I’ve said or you hate my guts for insulting something you liked.


62 posts were merged into an existing topic: Y’all played Dark Deity? PSA: Don’t