Revisiting the Dungeons

Reflection on the Mobile Remake of a Hack & Slash Legend

The new Dungeon & Fighter mobile game has been praised for its high quality graphics. Courtesy of Nexon.

The new Dungeon & Fighter mobile game has been praised for its high quality graphics. Courtesy of Nexon.

Nexon, one of the three largest game companies in Korea (the others being NCsoft and Netmarble), started outperforming the other two recently. Starting from KartRider Rush+, the mobile version of the popular Korean game KartRider, and now Dungeon & Fighters M, a mobile remake of one of the most popular RPG franchises in Korea, Nexon is slowly starting to dominate the video game industry in the peninsula.

Initially, the announcement of the release left many Korean RPG lovers worrying that Nexon would ruin their childhood memory. In recent years, many mobile-remastered versions of classic RPGs faced catastrophic failures, mostly because of their awful business models. Therefore, players couldn’t help but expect Dungeon & Fighters (DNF) to also follow a similar trend.

However, despite the concerns, Nexon was spot on in successfully recreating one of the most well-known, classic RPG games. Upon first starting, users can choose the server they would like to play on. Personally, I prefer the Canna server where the chat experience is more interactive, as more Korean users reside there compared to other servers like Siusha. 

The banner for the latest update, the Lotus Raid, was released recently. Courtesy of Nexon.

Once you start, the first step is to create your own unique character. Because not every class came along when DNF was ported onto mobile, players don’t have all the options they used to have in the original game. However, many classes like Slayer, Gunner, Fighter, Mage, and Priest have still survived – all of which can later evolve into their respective classes, like Gunner into Launcher.

Once the character has been created, the tutorial stage begins, and the players are introduced to the game’s main story. In this stage, basic maneuvers, such as canceling enemy attacks or penetrating the enemies’ “super armor” – a state in which the player’s normal attacks don’t push back their enemies, are explained. 

After the tutorial, the game consists mostly of clearing the “epic quests”, which is simply just getting through the main lore. The first introduction to epic quests might seem tedious since mobile game stories tend to be boring and predictable. Yet, the plot Nexon cooked up was just as exciting as the original, thanks to their excellent usage of Live 2D illustrations and cutscenes. 

Vivid colors of the graphics in the gameplay enhance the player’s satisfaction with this new update. Courtesy of Nexon.

The dungeons implemented throughout the epic quests definitely made the gameplay more colorful. Their well-balanced difficulties, outstanding soundtracks, and most of all, the eye-capturing pixel graphics, made the hack and slash method very enjoyable. 

Moreover, the DNF mobile gaming experience is made further pleasant by the lack of the “pay to win” model, in which paying provides an overwhelming advantage over those who don’t. For  Dungeon & Fighters M, the economic balance between the free currency “Tera” and the cash currency “Cera” is spot on, which makes the payers’ advantages feel acceptable while still allowing non-payers to enjoy.

Yet, like all other games, DNF is not free from criticism. The daily dungeons seem to be a bit repetitive and forced: without clearing them, one cannot access vital in-game resources. “Skipping tickets” do exist, but it still feels like precious playtime and resources are being wasted on laborious stages of the game that provide little to no joy.

Additionally, there are limitations on how much one can play the game. Like other RPGs, DNF mobile also has stamina systems, which are resources players need to spend in order to enter a dungeon. Gamers are provided with a hundred stamina at the start of the day, with one stamina being spent upon entering a new room in a dungeon. This system has its ups and downs. The limited amount of stamina does prevent the players from spending too much screen time and spamming bots. However, it prevents active users like me from playing an excessive amount. While I can create fifteen other sub-characters and use up all 1500 stamina, I’d greatly prefer enjoying the game with my main character, which is obviously more fun and rewarding. 

To add to the topic of characters, there are also some complaints about the off-balanced positions. For instance, PvP enthusiasts complain that Rangers and Asuras are too strong, and Berserker players suffer from being too weak. On the other hand, overbalanced or underbalanced characters in PvPs are a recurring problem in the entire industry itself; it is hard to be picked out as a critical issue of DNF mobile specifically. 

To sum up, Dungeon & Fighters M is indeed worth recommending to any of those who played pixel graphic RPGs as kids. The original Dungeon & Fighters – first released in 2005 – may not be very appealing to some younger gamers, but the mobile version of the game definitely stands out among the popular RPG games. Along with satisfactory recent updates, the game is definitely worth your time.