My hopes of getting Legends of Grimrock on Switch seem to be dwindling by the day, so thank goodness for Operencia The Stolen Sun.
This brilliant dungeon crawler – unexpectedly coming from Zen Studios – has the right balance of everything. Good dungeon layout, decent combat, hidden secrets, varied puzzles. There’s even some effective character building.
It all comes together quite well to form an entertaining dungeon crawler package that doesn’t just tick the boxes, but fills them in just nicely.
The key thing for me is that it also shows we need more of these types of games on Switch because they’re just perfect for duvet days. Of which I’m having many right now.
In the land of Operencia, – a place inspired by Central European Mythology, apparently – the Sun King Napkiraly has been abducted and it’s caused everything to be shrouded in darkness and ultimately, will draw the world into chaos. Eek!
You’ll have to party together with up to seven warriors to battle all kinds of creatures and fight through all types of unique dungeons, like an underwater castle, and a creepy forest made of copper.
Now, true, the story is not oft the game’s strongest suit. Some of the lines and plot threads fall pretty flat and the voice cast don’t always seem best suited to the characters, but the way everything is put together and presented is very enjoyable.
Each location you visit feels distinct, with its own unique enemies, flora, and fauna, and that comes with increasingly different challenges, whether you’re solving puzzles related to animal wall murals or opening massive tombs.
Operencia also looks genuinely stunning. And, well, it would seeing as it’s running on Unreal Engine 4. That said, having checked out the game on PC and Xbox, I can say the Switch version does struggle a little bit with performance, and there’s also some asset tearing and minor lag, but nothing that pulls you out of the experience or makes this an overly negative experience.
If anything, the Switch feels like the preferred way to hack through spiders and skeletons, because, well, duvets.
Speaking of, the turn-based combat offers a nice spread of options, with different attacks working against different enemies. It also has a system similar to The Bards Tale IV where enemies appear in rows – front, middle, and back.
At the back row, you usually have a caster or an archer, and so using physical attacks may not be as effective and your chance to hit may be reduced. At the front, they’re in the firing line. This adds another intriguing layer to strategy, helping you consider who to use and how.
Then there’s also approaching battle by using the Overworld as you can actually sneak attack enemies – or be sneak attacked. Although enemies all have their own method of approach – some will charge, whereas some you’ll never see coming. It’s pretty cool!
As you explore the overworld, you can only move one square at a time, similar to the likes of Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore, though at least now there’s fast turns, and the right analog can be used to look around while on the spot, which also opens up new possibilities for the genre.
You’re always on the look out for levers, buttons, as well as gold to pick up and chests to open. There’s even hidden walls you can pass through. And going back to what we were saying about different dungeons, there’s usually a unique obstacle to contend against.
For instance, in the game’s opening dungeon, you’ll have to wade through some underwater corridors and are presented with an Oxygen bar. If that depletes, you quickly lose health and will either need to get out or will rapidly suffocate.
Best of all, Operencia really caters to hardcore dungeoneers, letting you tweak settings like adding permadeath and even mapping your own route through the dungeons. It’s a nice touch for genre veterans.
You can even limit the amount of saves you have – these are confined to unlit bonfires you find throughout the dungeon and often add some interesting character exchanges as they sit around and rest. A nice way to really add some life and substance to the in-game events instead, something many others in the genre have failed to get just right.
Operencia The Stolen Sun just works on so many different levels. I was really taken aback by just how well put together, presented and enjoyable it all is, honestly, you will find no better dungeon crawler on your Switch.
Operencia needs a hero and it should definitely be you.
Operencia: The Stolen Sun is now available on PC, Xbox, Switch and PS4
Review Code Provided by the Publsiher
Played on Switch