Developer: Eidos Interactive
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Reviewed by: Ben Ivers
When Deathtrap Dungeon was first seen at the E3 convention in Los Angles in '96 it had a promising look to it. And, if it had been released sooner it may have created the base for a new action game genre. Although most of the reviews about this game compare it to Tomb Raider, it should more properly be compared to Die By the Sword. Both involve swordplay and a third person perspective, however Die By the Sword is far superior.
The first thing that comes to mind is "dated". Not bad, necessarily, just dated. Some of the lighting effects are nice as well as the gore. However, the animations of the characters and enemies are Tomb Raider I 'ish. As we have seen in Die By the Sword, third person action graphics have come a long way in the two years since the first Tomb Raider.
The gameplay is done through a series of camera views from a third person perspective. As with most games of this type, the camera views can sometimes be very useless and can even look in completely opposite directions. Deathtrap does this often, creating a lot of aggravating moments where choice words are shared with the computer. The characters can be controlled through the keyboard, joystick, or mouse, all of which are difficult, not to mention sticky. I chose keyboard controls in hopes that my time spent on mastering Die By the Swords controls could help, not a chance. The movement keys and the attack keys are the same with a switch key to change back and forth. These cannot be remapped making it very hard to pull off advanced movements such as the ones done in Die By the Sword with its VSIM mode. Now, as if this didn't make the game difficult enough, the response to the keys is slow (sticky), making any movements very difficult, especially when running from fire or other such dangers. Spells can be found and cast throughout the game, which helps with killing enemies because the swordplay doesn't work well at all.
The multiplayer is supported for LAN, and TCP/IP or internet. Both support up to four players that can run around the levels killing each other, which would normally be fun. However, with the lag on the internet along with the sticky keys, the multiplayer is practically unplayable. On a LAN the lag is significantly less but the multiplayer is still very hard. Now, if you can tollerate the lag, then you must make a choice between a small, but interesting, variety of levels. If not for bad lag, sticky controls, and dated graphics the multiplayer would be extremely enjoyable. But as of now, its not.
Deathtrap hasn't come a long way from what I saw two years ago, and probably never will be more than it is without serious patchwork. If the game had been released before Die By the Sword maybe things would be different. Overall, I think of Deathtrap Dungeon as a neat idea very poorly done. If you don't mind the serious flaws, go for it.
Our rating out of 10: 5.0
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