Quick question how many of you have heard or played Dungeon Fighter Online? …Anyone? …You at the back? …No? Me neither. So when I first saw DNF Duel I had no idea that this was a fighter based on this Far East smash, which is one of the highest grossing games of all time. But what I did know was that the masters of 2D fighting games Arc System Works were at the helm and that instantly took my interest. Not only do they make great fighting games, they make truly stunning ones as well. DNF Duel is no different, as it has their signature Anime come to life art style, bringing their games to life in a whole different way to other fighting titles.
The game tells a tale where portals bring together mighty warriors to battle it out for the will of the world. Now not knowing anything about Dungeon Fighter Online I’m guessing that most of this cast are the big names from that series, so fans will get a kick from the tale, whereas for me it filled in the good guy and bad guy blanks. Interestingly each character has their own tale in this story mode, which is a nice touch… but beware they all have the same ending, which is a bit of a cop out in ways. There are 16 fighters to choose from, based on a number of different fighting styles – ranging from aggressive melee attackers, to ranged damage dealers. Finding one that best fits your skills and style will take a bit of time. One thing that hits you though, is the game is more geared to thinking out your moves than just running head first into battle and button mashing, as a number of attacks will win you back HP and even recover. Strategy is a big part of its fight style.
Though like all good fighters; dig a little deeper and you start to find the real challenge and here that starts with the MP system, which is a power bar mapped to a button, where your direction will dictate what special you use. Although you can gamble and raise the bar, to unleash an even more powerful attack. Plus you can block all specials if your timing is right, so there is a real risk reward to higher tier fighting here. Credit to Arc System Works as accessibility is very visible here, with all fighters sharing a core set of moves, as well as combo inputs. Meaning no one fighter is skill tier locked to anyone playing. However, high level play will take advantage of block counter and combo cancels. The online side of things is ok with the game featuring roll back net code, which helps to level the playing field and though there are somewhat “cheap” tactics that some are using just now, the game is balanced in such a way that most of these tactics can be countered easily, with timing and combo choice. That said there is room for improvements both to the fighting system and MP burn, as well as maybe having a few more fighters beyond the one unlockable one just now.
DNF Duel is a solid brawler based on a series most will never have heard of, but it’s created by one of the best studios on the fighting scene today, which means it is well worth playing. It has the level of production and polish you expect, all it needs is a bit of after-launch support and we could see a new contender on the fighting circuit.
A PS5 review copy of DNF Duel was provided by Arc System Works PR team, and the game is out now on PlayStation and PC for around £50.