We previewed Dance of Death a few weeks back, a point and click adventure set in Victorian London but based around Arthurian legend.
It’s a well-told story with an entertaining cast of characters, all expertly voice-acted from high-profile Welsh talent, but it’s a game which lets itself down time after time on the technical side.
Many bugs were picked up in the preview build, most we hoped would be quashed and resolved by the time the game released.
The good news is, some were. The bad news is many still remain.
In fact, part of the reason our coverage has been delayed is because we had to wait for a patch to fix a bug so we could progress. It rendered the game unplayable past a certain point. It’s a common frustration with the game, sadly.
Bugs come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes lines of dialogue are skipped and unheard. Sometimes the character pathing gets you stuck on the scenery, objectives randomly change around without warning, and sometimes you can’t even walk to another screen.
One time, a required character disappeared off the screen completely, meaning we couldn’t progress to the next stage of the game. No amount of restarting or switching screens helped, either.
Honestly, if not for the game’s solid writing and creative cast of characters, I would have stopped playing a long time before as the game regularly led me to frustration with issues aplenty.
Du Lac & Fey is essentially a re-telling of the Jack the Ripper story but in a way that’s never been done before. For one thing, you’ll spend a good half of the game playing Mary Kelly.
Not just that, but there’s an element of magic and mystery infused throughout. Basically, Du Lac and Fey are Lancelot and Morgana Le Fey lifted from Arthurian Legend, with Fey herself trapped in the body of a dog thanks to Merlin. This lets Fey chat to other animals and learn more about the murder mysteries you get entangled in.
But why are Du Lac and Fey travelling to London and getting involved with Jack the Ripper? Fey thinks Merlin is in town and wants to confront him, hoping he will be able to change her back to her original form. Certainly not your conventional take.
As you progress through the story, so Du Lac and Fey will discover some familiar faces, some friendly, and some not. But the thing that’s most interesting in Dance of Death is how the writing blends two styles of writing so deftly. While Du Lac and Fey are very formal and clearly out of place in their new setting, Mary’s character and dialect really help paint a vivid picture of the grittiness of a Victorian London.
The writers really don’t shy away from strong themes, either, offering thorough insight into the treatment of women through prostitution, violence, and abortion, while also examining London living conditions, racism, religion, and even the relationship between the press and the police.
But the game also likes to have a bit of fun, regularly throwing in witty one-liners as well as the way it toys with the supernatural. It all comes together so well to present a well-told, occasionally powerful, and mostly entertaining tale. There are some pacing issues as it moves towards the end, but this is most certainly a tale with an outcome you won’t easily foresee.
Mechanically, the game itself does feel a tad limited. There’s no inventory system to speak of, often you’re just clicking through screens and choosing dialogue topics, moving from one cut scene to the next. And the game doesn’t have a manual save system, rather it autosaves on the same file. This is often to the game’s detriment, especially when there is one of the aforementioned glitches which cause objectives to corrupt.
Fortunately, because the narrative drives the story so well, it means you won’t be able to put it down, enthralled and drawn along for the ride till the very end.
Du Lac & Fey is a game I’d recommend anyone play as the story is one of the best I’ve seen in a point & click for a long time. But several patches deep, it’s still ruined by some irritating, occasionally game-breaking glitches.
I don’t know if Du Lac & Fey will ever be truly fixed or how much support the game will continue to receive, but I’m rooting for Salix Games to get it right. This game deserves an audience and is a series which must be allowed to continue, but in its current state, sadly, many of these issues are difficult to look past.
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is available from today on PC
Review code kindly provided by Publisher.