From Ankama Games comes a little jewel called (of all things) Dofus. Seriously unsure where the name originated, however, the game is not as ah…’dofus’ as it sounds. A turn-based rpg/mmo in the same mold as the Fire Emblem series, Dofus is a cute little free-to-play with a subscription option.
The scenery is very well done, all of it done in a cartoonish, cute style. The avatars and Non Player Character or NPC monsters are also done in the same style. The NPC monster levels are kind of confusing at first, as your avvie can handle a lot higher level of monster than one would think they could in some cases, and in other cases the monster powers are almost unbelievable in strength. The young boars in particular are capable of doing some serious damage to your hero and should be avoided by classes that do not start with a large health pool.
The user interface is standard and easy to work with, although some of the spells are difficult to understand at first. Probably not helping in this situation is the fact that to try this game out I picked what I thought was going to be the most difficult class to play, guaranteeing myself some pitfalls and problems. As always, soldier/warrior types are the easiest to play at the outset, and healer/summoner classes do seem to be the weakest.
That being said, it’s far from impossible to play even the weakest classes successfully. Leveling is quick through the early levels, and continues to not be difficult or frustrating through the medium levels. Even staying in the starting area to level crafting did not significantly impact leveling time because of the ready availability of higher level NPC monsters in that area.
There are multiple inexpensive subscription options ranging from 1 week to 12 months. The game doesn’t take what it’s offering too seriously, and is pretty economical for the subscribing player. The pros of actually subscribing if you like the game are huge, you can actually sell the stuff in your inventory. Non-subscribers have no way to get things out of their inventory other than deleting items. I really didn’t love that about the game, having been conditioned that the only real way to make money in a game is to sell stuff, but one can definitely appreciate the carrot to subscription!
Turn-based combat isn’t exactly new, but it’s new in the MMO category. It was disconcerting to watch five or six monsters roughing up my avatar without it having a chance to get a spell off. Working in ‘real-time’ gets one spoiled to a certain extent. To be sure, when there’s a couple summons out and one tiny monster left, feeling sorry for the monsters isn’t high on my list of things to do! Also, there is no ability to regain health outside of spells in combat. No ability to chug a potion to regain health until out of combat, so be aware that this is an issue because otherwise you may run out of combat time trying to figure out how to get a little health back before you get killed.
The crafting system is difficult to learn and work through, and there is no place to actually manufacture a lot of things in the starting area. The best that can be done is to trade wheat flour for bread through an NPC, and the game doesn’t always allow you to do it correctly. Also, losing resources due to a mistake being made in the way that you set up the crafting is irritating. The time spent (even in the starting areas) on crafting can really turn one off to it. The main reason that I stuck with it personally is that not doing so has been a problem in other games. There are five gathering occupations with related actual crafting occupations later on.
The multiple classes offer something for everyone that wants to try this game. The adorable little avatars are more than reminiscent of manga-drawn beauties, and aficionados of Fruits Basket and Ah! My Goddess will see some of the art in the avatars that they have grown to love.
In short, it’s an engaging little game. Hardcore MMO players might not be sold, but it’s fun. Although not always easy to learn, it’s enjoyable even if the learning curve can get a bit steep at times.