The names Du Lac and Fey might sound familiar to many of you. If not, Dance of Death, an adventure game from Salix Games, goes out of its way to get you caught up quickly in an enticing prologue. The game opens in Norway in the late 19th Century. This isn’t the typical location for the two lead characters; You’d more frequently find these characters entwined in Arthurian legend. Fey, a dog that can talk to her partner, is actually Morgan le Fay trapped in a canine body. As you might have guessed, Du Lac is the immortal resurrection of Sir Lancelot du Lac. The pair find themselves several centuries out of time.
When the pair banish a demon that’s terrorising some Norwegian villagers, they’re shown a series of visions. A church. A beating heart. Some woman wearing red. They don’t make sense immediately but they’re interpreted as breadcrumbs that could lead the legendary characters to someone they’re been hunting for for years – Merlin. The pair travel to London, the one clue that did make sense, to continue the hunt for the long lost wizard.
It’s here that Du Lac and Fey do the figurative ‘Dance with Death’ as they get drawn into the mystery of Jack the Ripper. There’s grizzly murder afoot, and somehow it links back to century old Knights and Wizards. Unfortunately, a strong start to the narrative wains as each chapter unfurls and the game play struggles to rise above mediocrity.
A Camelot Of Walking Around
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey presents itself like a point and click adventure. You can control Du Lac and Fey (and others that I won’t spoil here) and move them around linked environmental frames. Get close to items of interest or people to talk to and an icon appears. The game utilises a contextual interactivity button that will automatically choose an action for you to perform. This isn’t like the LucasArts classics that afforded you the option to try and open people or pick up the moon. It’ll automatically default to one of a few options and doesn’t present any inappropriate options. In the entire game, there was only really a hand full of times when you’ve even given multiple actions to choose from, like “Examine” and “Talk about…”.
Because of that, and the general structure of Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey, the game feels shallow and lacking in challenge. The narrative is the central drive of this title, relegating its interactive elements to little more than exploration. There are a handful of standalone puzzles, but they’re straightforward and the game intentionally holds your hand throughout them.
The core game play of Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is reduced to walking around and exploring then. You’ll meet a character, have a multiple-choice based discussion with them, be given a new objective to find someone or something, then have to repeat this cycle. After the first few hours, this does start to feel like a laundry list of things to do with just a slowly unveiling mystery to drive you forward.
This wouldn’t be such an issue but the movement speed of all of the characters in Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is painfully slow. Sometimes you’ll have to travel across 3 environmental frames of London to get from objective to objective and moving at a snails pace, it can feel frustrating sluggish. This is compounded when you’re not entirely sure where the objective is; one chapter asks you to hand out flyers to people – but these can only be handed to particular characters. If you happen to go the wrong way in search of these people, backtracking on yourself is more than enough to cause a furrowed brow.
Much ADu Lac About Nothing
It’s the story that acts as the primary motivating force through Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey. Blending Arthurian legends with the mystique surrounding Jack The Ripper (AKA The Leather Apron) does bring a refreshing twist to themes that have otherwise been done to death. You’ll meet mythological British legends and names associated with the grizzly 1888 Whitechapel murders within seconds of one another, and the game is done in such a way that that doesn’t feel out of place.
The moment to moment story beats are also pretty well done. While some progress feels haphazard and accidental, as if you’re stumbling through the puzzle of Jack The Ripper rather than investigating it, the mystery keeps itself well guarded and has the potential to catch you off guard.
It’s the overarching storyline that falls flat in Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey. This game feels like Act 1 of a longer story that sadly feels half-finished. Maybe this game was set to be the opening chapter of a much longer story. While the games self-enclosed story wraps itself up, the most interesting elements of the set-up feel unaddressed as the credits roll.
Mordred Meets The Eyes
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey does have some silver linings. The most impressive aspect of the game is the fully voiced dialogue for the game. It’s not often that you find a game of this ilk with voiced dialogue for every character you meet, which is true here. The voice cast do some great work with a period appropriate script to really sell these characters. Sure, some of the Londoners come off as caricaturistic, and the lip sync of the corresponding models isn’t always lined up (or even functioning), but these are forgivable blips.
While the PS4 version of Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey doesn’t carry the same visual quality of the original PC version, the game is quite easy on the eye too. There’s not a vast array of scenes to navigate, but they all fit that Victorian era vibe. Famous locations associated with Jack The Ripper, such as Christ Church and The Ten Bells, are brought to vibrant life here, with a soundtrack and foley that sets the tone.
It’s a shame that the attention to detail seen in the location visuals isn’t presented everywhere. There’s little finishing touches of polish that are missing from Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey. For example, in one section of the game, you’ll need to scroll through ingredients to make a potion. The screen prompts say that you’ll need to use R1 and L1 to scroll through these vials. In reality, you’ve got to use R2 and L2. There’s lots of little niggles like that that manage to sour the experience.
Despite its issues however, Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey will satisfy die hard fans of narrative driven point and click adventure games for a few hours. Because of its lack of challenge, the game is very accessible. As I previously mentioned, this feels like the start of a much larger story, and if that tale continues in a sequel, I’d certainly give it a look. Judged alone however, Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey struggles to rise above mediocrity.
It manages to strike a unique tone by blending Arthurian legends with the mystery of the Jack The Ripper murders, but Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey struggles to stand out due to a lack of thought provoking puzzles, painfully slow movement speed and a lack of polish.
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is available now on PS4 (review platform), Xbox One, Switch and PC.
Developer: Salix Games
Publisher: Hidden Trap
Disclaimer: In order to complete other reviews, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here. This game was bought by the reviewer.
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