By Michael Fontanini / April 22nd, 2020
|Release Date||February 19th, 2020|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Difficult, Platformer, Role-Playing|
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PC|
|Age Rating||ESRB: Everyone 10+|
A hero who cannot remember his past sets out on a perilous quest in 3000th Duel. A mysterious mask that cannot be removed covers his face. He must now explore this unknown land, but many formidable bosses stand in the way. Should he survive to see the end of this quest, he may uncover a terrible secret about his own identity. Can you survive long enough to uncover that truth?
3000th Duel is a metroidvania that mixes in souls-like elements. As you explore the world and progress in your adventure, new memories will periodically return. One of the first is the dash move. It soon becomes a vital ability, when you upgrade it to provide invulnerability during a dash. This is done via one of the earliest upgrades in the skill tree, and it will make your dash move a vital tool against bosses, who can be brutal. You’ll earn soul breaker stones, which are used to unlock new skills in the skill tree. Enemies can drop various types of items, which can be weapons or single-use items providing buffs like resistances, or minor healing. These drops are not super common, so they must be used wisely.
You’ll periodically find new weapons, which come in several types such as swords, lances, and broad swords. Each has their own pros and cons in combat. 3000th Duel also has many magic weapons, known as occults. These use MP when fired, which is replenished by defeating enemies. The hero can have two weapons and two occults equipped at any time. There is a button for each that lets you swap them to switch which weapon and which occult is currently active.
Aside from these, the hero can also do a much more powerful physical attack, called a Mortal Blow. It is unlocked early on in 3000th Duel, and has a charge up gauge. The move will only work if you have enough energy in the gauge, and you can unlock the ability for it to do multiple hits, too. Once unlocked, multiple hits will of course require more charge in the gauge to perform. This gauge is replenished a small amount each time you defeat an enemy. Your defense and final damage for any of type of attack depends on your current stats, which can be improved by leveling up. This is done by using earned karma points at statues like those shown above. The second statue lets you save the game.
As you progress in your journey in 3000th Duel, you’ll earn karma by defeating enemies, which is used to level up. For each level up, you can add a point to either vitality, strength, mind, or activity. Your choice affects which of your stats get increased. Strength will improve your attack damage, while activity will improve stamina, for example.
Some of the bosses can be very tough, wiping out large blocks of your HP in one hit. You WILL die fighting them, a lot. This is made worse by the placement of save statues, which are almost never directly before a boss room. This means every time you die at the boss, you’ll respawn at the last save point you used and have to make your way back to the boss room. The save statues are never right before the boss fight, because beating the boss causes a level up and save statue to appear in the boss room. Having to re-traverse a ways to get back to the boss each time just adds more frustration to them. A page out of Super Meat Boy‘s book could have improved the game here, by allowing the player to try again almost instantly instead.
3000th Duel is a game that can be quite fun, but other times frustrating (particularly at certain bosses). The controls are pretty basic, and for the most part work well. Some moves have pauses at the end, which prevent you from doing anything else until it finishes the animation. This can make the controls feel a bit clunky at times, and sometimes hit boxes don’t seem to register hits properly.
While these issues are minor, the bosses can really hold you up, as the game aims to blend metroidvania with souls-like. The result is that progression can really grind to a halt when a tough boss is blocking your way. It should be noted that the game does sometimes give you a choice of which area to visit next, but you can only go so far before you’ll hit some sort of blockade and have to backtrack. There are many shortcuts in the game that can be opened once you get behind the obstacle that seals them, like a locked door or a breakable floor.
The sound effects are crisp, and do their job well. Attacks sound very satisfying when they land. The music track in 3000th Duel is rich, and suitably epic.
3000th Duel blends metroidvania and souls-like, but this leads it to alternate between fun and annoying with how some bosses will seriously block your ability to make progress. If you aren’t into difficult games, then some of the bosses will likely spoil the experience for you. Some of them can feel incredibly cheap on your early attempts, killing you in seconds numerous times when you meet them. As you progress, you get to build out your character’s stats in the way of your choosing via the level up statues. Combine that with the myriad of weapons, occults, and items you’ll find, and you have a ton of options for how to build up your hero and play the game. You also can’t unlock the entire skill tree in one playthrough, since the the hero’s max level is capped at 99. So there is plenty of replay value here. I’ve spent over 15 hours in this labyrinthian world so far. 3000th Duel is priced at $14.99 on the Nintendo Switch eShop, and you can also find it on Steam. Are you tough enough to survive and uncover the shocking truth about your own identity?
Review copy provided by publisher.
3000th DuelNEOPOPCORN Corpnintendo switch