Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is an ambitious adventure game developed by Salix Games. The studio boasts a wealth of experience with staff having worked on titles such as Batman: Arkham Knight, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Fable III, Halo Wars 2, The Division and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
For this preview I’ve been playing an early press build that features the prologue and first two chapters of the game.
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is set in 1888 and players take the roles of characters from Arthurian Legend – the immortal knight Sir Lancelot Du Lac (Gareth David-Lloyd) and cursed sorceress Morgana Le Fey (Perdita Weeks). The pair start their adventure in Norway where a mysterious killing is linked to demon involvement.
Watch the Dance of Death: Du Lac and Fey release date trailer below:
Their investigation takes them back to the streets of Victorian London during the time of the infamous Whitechapel Murders. They must work together in an attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper and end his reign of terror. To complicate matters, Le Fey has been trapped in the form of a dog. She can communicate with Du Lac, talk to other animals and also makes use of her sense of smell.
During their investigation they cross paths with a local girl named Mary Kelly (Alexandra Roach). She has special magical gifts of her own and players also get to control her to help solve the mystery. Players can switch between the various characters as they see fit in order to take advantage of the skills of each.
It’s an interesting setup and the developers have gone the extra mile to make things as accurate as possible. Characters and locations have been fact-checked by leading experts of Victorian history. It’s also worth mentioning that this is an 18-rated game aimed at adults. It features plenty of swearing and adult themes including murder (obviously) and prostitution.
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is played in a similar way to other point-and click adventures. Using the mouse you can click around the screen to move your character to a particular location. Something that didn’t work very well in this preview build was the pathfinding. Often you click a character or location on the screen and the character you’re controlling will run about in circles or go off in the wrong direction. I found movement was painfully slow and not very intuitive to begin with. Once I got used to it I realised that the game seems to want you to click where you want your feet to end up.
Characters you can talk to, and items or locations of interest, also require you to be stood in the correct location to interact with them. This feels clumsy and rather frustrating. It’s not possible to scan the screen with your mouse pointer or hold a key, like in some adventure games, to see what you can interact with. Instead you need to move around until an icon pops up. To give an example, down near the docks you need to talk to various characters. At the docks are maybe ten characters but you can only talk to a couple of them. So you need to move around them all to work out which you are allowed to speak with. Mixed with the unreliable pathfinding it can be quite the challenge.
Similarly, moving between locations is a bit odd. You might have to exit a room, leave a street or find a particular building. Again you need to get your character to exactly the right place on the screen before an icon appears that you can click to move on. As you learn where each of these are it becomes easier but it’s a frustration that doesn’t need to be there. Another annoying thing at the moment is you might enter a building in the middle of a street but when you come out of the building, instead of being in front of the door your character will be back at the end of the street.
Watch the Dance of Death: Du Lac and Fey developer interview below:
Right now the standout feature for me is the voice acting. The game features an incredibly talented cast that boasts actors from Penny Dreadful, Tudors, Torchwood, Game of Thrones, Black Mirror and Dragon Age. So many adventures are let down by their cast but this is one are where Dance of Death: Du Lac and Fey absolutely shines. Conversations give you three choices of reply allowing you to react how you like. At this stage it’s unclear just how much influence your choices have but the developers are promising a branching story.
The game makes use of gorgeous 2D art mixed with 3D models to bring things to life. The combination of styles works really well and the whole thing really looks gorgeous. Characters are detailed and they convey emotion through their expressions. They also make use of lip-syncing which helps them come alive along with the brilliant voice acting.
View some screenshots from Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey in our gallery:
Overall I’ve enjoyed my brief time with Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey. It’s has me intrigued as to where the story will go next. What I played so far did seem a bit simple and the game hand-holds you but I’d like to presume that this is because it’s the early stages. If Salix Games can eliminate the annoying bugs and throw in some challenging puzzles I think they could be onto a real winner.
EF Games will be bringing you a full review of Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey when the game launches on PC via Steam on the 5th April 2019. Interested players and adventure fans should add the game to their Steam wishlist.
Check out the official Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey website for more information on the game.