Excave is a classic dungeon exploration RPG from Japan, that has a lot of promise from the opening intro but comes up just a little bit light on the depth side of things. Here’s the basic setup for the game, with the epic storyline that we’re greeted with.
Imperial City is at war! The King needs you to explore the perilous and ancient Labyrinth beneath the city – find out why this mysterious magical laboratory now spews out an army of powerful monsters bent on destruction, and descend to its lowest depths to rescue the missing Magician.
With that you are off to play the game. You’ll start off with the choice of playing as either a male or female character. Though don’t let that decision slow you down as you’ll be able to play through the labyrinth as either character, with the ability to switch between them when you return to town. From the town menu you’ll have a couple of options right off the bat. You can head to the item shop to buy weapons and armour, as well as healing items and stat boosting items as well. Though you don’t have a lot of gold to start with. You will also have the option for a blacksmith to repair your weapons and the equipment option, where you can choose what you and your partner are carrying.
Don’t worry about all of that just yet though. Just pick your character and head into the labyrinth.
The labyrinth is pretty simple looking, with the just plain stone walls and floor. When you start you’ll find a bunch of doors, of various colours, blocking your way. You’ll need to navigate the labyrinth in order to find coloured keys matching these doors. As you defeat boss enemies and open various chests, you’ll collect these keys, thus allowing you to proceed deeper into the labyrinth.
There are also gold and silver doors around the labyrinth. You won’t find the keys to these doors in any of the chests in the labyrinth, rather you can purchase these keys at the Item Shop in town.
The enemies in the start of the dungeon are all pretty easy to kill, and a little bit boring to look at. The first series of enemies, save for a nasty bee, area all various sizes and colours of blobs. Nothing to look at, but they fit the bill. As you defeat these pesky blobs, some of them will drop gold while some others may drop green treasure chests. You’ll find all sorts of goodies in these, from healing items and accessories, to more weapons to choose from. Of course not all of the weapons are usable. As you progress through the dungeon you’ll start to encounter a wider variety of baddies, some of which are increasingly tricky to take down.
The weapon you start with can be used by either hero, however most of the weapons you discover in the labyrinth can only be used by one hero. So when you come across a nifty new weapon it may just be useless to you. You’ll just have to hold onto it and give it to your partner in the equipment screen back in town. It can be tough to decide what to keep though as your inventory spots are limited to sixteen. When those slots are full you won’t be able to pick up any more items. You can either use on of them up or toss them in the garbage (icon in the menu). Though you’ll have to think quickly as the dropped green treasure chests doesn’t stick around for long. You’ll have to decide whether to toss away a potentially valuable item, or let the chest vanish unopened.
Excave starts out by looking like a plain and simple dungeon crawler but is actually a bit of fun. And with hundreds of treasures and equipment items to collect, modify, upgrade, repair and sell, it can actually keep you occupied for quite a while.
If dungeon exploration games are you kind of thing, or if the game has peaked your interest, you should definitly take a look. The game is now available in the Nintendo 3DS eShop and retails for $4.99. It’s rated E-10+ by the ESRB.