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1eyedking Cleve Blakemore's Daredevil Donut Lad: The Definitive Review

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by Zorba the Hutt, Apr 2, 2017.

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  1. Zorba the Hutt Arcane Weasel

    Zorba the Hutt
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    The review the Codex staff didn't want you to see! Read it before it disappears into the Strong Museum basement!

    Every Codexer worth his Kwanzanian salt - at least those who've been around longer than the Trump thread - knows of Mr Blakemore's heroic, but ultimately doomed efforts to save the controversial Stones of Arnhem project and the wider Australian gaming industry. A more select group of gentlemen study his origin story, featuring generous helpings of Drano and the reactivation of ancient DNA. His time in the US military, as a lantern-jawed uberPrivate leaving a trail of broken athletic records and jealous superior officers in his wake, was followed by a period of quiet contemplation as he lived under a NYC bridge. He quoted Nietzsche to reporters and dominated street fights against overwhelming odds, aided only by his titanium bones and superhuman strength.

    Naturally the backward Australian corporate scene struggled to contain his genius after the sad demise of Sir-Tech, with a succession of Powerpoint-wielding corporate drones sabotaging the work of this lone crackerjack. Preferring meetings and social climbing to elegant lines of perfect code, they knew not what they had in their midst. Until it was too late. 'Twas ever thus, at least since the hordes of Sapiens spearchuckers invaded the Iberian Peninsula and kept the surviving Neanderthals as beautiful, talented slaves.

    And for decades the legendary Grimoire development cycle trundled inexorably onward, the Jodorowsky's Dune of RPGs - only without the fatal dependency on millions in Melonhead financing. This "Wizardry 8 killer" with over 600 hours of gameplay taxed even Cleveland's mighty abilities, generating envy, mockery and release date jokes from Usenet to QT3, through various Grimoire forums and survivalist communities, until Mr Blakemore at last found a permanent home in the welcoming embrace of Codex Prosperland. But alas, even here the mobs of doubting Sapiens began to gather, grunting in primitive terms of their pitiful Indiegogo 'donations' and short manboon lifespans. And yet all was not lost. For Cleve was about to shock the gaming world with a surprise multiplatform release. No, not the RPG to end all RPGs, for Grimoire is still beset by the final fractions of the last remaining microissues, but something different, something unexpected. Something beautiful. The hidden Gem of 2016. Daredevil Donut Lad.


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS

    I'm pleased to report that first impressions were generally positive. DDL may be temporarily unavailable in the Android Store, but for the PC master race the Filedropper link works like a charm, mercifully free of the spyware and privacy violations which plague many distribution platforms these days.


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    Installation is so simple a Canadian leftist could manage it, a couple of clicks are all it takes to dive right in and savour the colourful retro title screen and auditory homage to the 80s.


    [​IMG]


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    CHARGEN

    While leaning heavily on inspiration from the classics, Mr Blakemore has deliberately avoided the autistic excesses of the likes of Age of Decadence. The clean and elegant simplicity of the character creation screen may make it accessible for first timers, Twitch streamers and Australopithecus in general, but there are hidden depths and subtle nuances sufficient to sate the appetites of more monocled RPG connoisseurs. Opting against a gimmicky or roleplaying concept build, I went for a chunky Donut Lad with a toothy grin and points in rolling speed and persuasion. With that, it was time to bounce into action.


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    EARLY GAME

    There are certain moments in gaming which stick with you through the decades, from first firing up Pool of Radiance on a C64 to awakening in the Mortuary. This was not one of those moments. But it was close.

    Imagine a realm of beauty and wonder, haunted by a creeping evil. Of green hills hiding dark and dangerous shafts, mocking smiles concealing a sinister agenda. The world of DDL will follow you back to our wan, insipid existence, intruding on a coffee break at the office or that restless 3am dream. But gaze too long at the surroundings and your donut lad will become impatient and urge you to action.


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    All seems well...


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    But all is not as it seems


    COMBAT

    Yes, it's that moment in every Codex review where we ask if the combat is as good as Jagged Alliance 2. You knew it was coming, so let's get it over with.

    Sadly, combat is undoubtedly DDL's weakest suit. Tactical options, enemy variety, weapon itemisation... everything just feels lacklustre and sparse. Think Wasteland 2 before the console version came out. While this is surprising and disappointing from a developer of over 200 Commodore 64 games, it should be remembered that the 1.13 mod for JA2 took years to arrive. And who knows what modders could produce in future given the sturdy foundation Mr Blakemore has provided? The likes of Drog and Celerity must surely be smacking their lips.

    Non-combat playthroughs are where DDL really shines, however, and with a combination of stealth and evasion I effortlessly skirted trash mobs and more dangerous minibosses, as if they weren't even there. Satisfying.


    NARRATIVE AND NPCs

    Cleve has wisely eschewed PoE style NPCs and lore dumps, and the game is all the better for it. But I'll say no more about the writing; everyone who's followed his epic tales of the LA Riots, YMCA gyms, bunker construction, ancient Babylonians or cheetah engineering knows the wonders they're in for, the whimsical journey to a delightful parallel universe. And it would be a cruel reviewer indeed who would spoil a virgin reader's first plunge into this world.


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    A fork in the road, a branch in the story


    CHARACTER PROGRESSION AND DIFFICULTY CURVE

    Once you've gathered enough magical stars, it's off to the coffee cup and the next level. Don't expect massive stat gains and pointless achievements, rather a smooth power progression in your ultimate mission to attain donut godhood. Be warned that the initial difficulty is punishing, however, anticipate grisly deaths aplenty until you master the full range of daredevil abilities and the space bar.


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    A reward well earned


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    Don't expect an easy ride with Blakemore's old-school sensibilities


    CONCLUSION


    If you're after quest compasses and Titan-ravaging graphics, then best seek your popamole pleasures elsewhere. For those with more refined and cerebral tastes though, Daredevil Donut Lad is well worth a look. While Blakemore's vision may only be fully realised with the inevitable expansion pack or sequel, the base game has arguably already redefined a genre and reinvigorated an industry mired in neutral-positivity.

    In short, DDL has style, DDL has class. If DDL played a paleolithic bone flute you'd want to listen.

    Verdict: A cult classic in the making

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    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
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  2. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Weren't we going to post this April 1st? (but then probably forgot; or maybe it was the Siroteks' black magic)

    Anyway, good job.
     
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  3. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    You lie, filedropper link is dead
     
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  4. What is your score on 7-to-9 scale?
     
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  5. Watser Arcane

    Watser
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    Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    Post it anyway
     
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  6. Melan Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Melan
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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
    It is a lot of fun and surprisingly addictive. Alas, I could never reliably master the double-jump, and was left behind on level 5. :negative: (I think it was level 5.)
     
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  7. Zorba the Hutt Arcane Weasel

    Zorba the Hutt
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    Pls move into prestigious Golden Era Games subforum with all the other Golden Era Games releases
    thks
    Infinitron
     
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  8. taxalot Gone forever. Patron

    taxalot
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    Codex 2013 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015
    I am now expecting a review of each one of Cleve's C64 games. There has to be one there that doesn't crash.
     
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  9. Gondolin Arcane

    Gondolin
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    It's the sugar and the wheat flour. Cleve is working hand in hand with the Reptilians to promote unhealthy, addictive food.
     
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