Din's Curse is a game I'd never heard of, but one that I certainly found myself interested in as I played it. An action-RPG, at first glance it simply looks like a Diablo-clone, but it's definitely willing to surprise those that play it with new ideas and different conventions.

The game plays much like any other top-down dungeon-crawling RPG: you run through a dungeon with a chosen character, smacking enemies in the face and dropping the various pieces of armor and weaponry their corpses drop. Do quests for extra experience and using skills, soon you'll be racing s levels before you know it. Din's Curse makes changes though.

The story of the game is basically that you have been cursed by the god Din because you were a jerk in your life. So you must now atone by saving lives, being a hero, all that fun stuff. The game generates a town for you to play in, which means random quests, NPCs, equipment, and so forth. Finish the main quests (which pretty much means going down to the bottom of the town's dungeon and wiping out the big bad), and you get a big bag of shiny loot and another town to save.

The interesting thing about the game is the dynamic nature of the world you're thrust into. At first glance, things seem fairly normal: a few quest givers, a couple townsfolk, a store or two and a relatively shallow - about five floors, give or take some – dungeon. But as you play and time passes, things change. First, there's something of a faction system to the enemies. And they don't necessarily like each other. You may enter a room to see them killing each other, allowing you to scoop up the remains. Sometimes groups of enemies will outright declare war another, sometimes spurned by the death (by your hand) of one of their leaders.

Enemies don't always stay confined to the dungeons either. You might find yourself hastily returning to the surface in order to thwart an attack by an enemy or two. This is no simple event either; enemies can and will kill townsfolk if you allow them. At best this decreases your reputation (which gives you items when you complete enough quests and level it up), and at worst it can cause a quest to be cancelled, or result in the death of an important member of town, such as a storekeeper. Then there are also the extra townsfolk you can rescue from the dungeons, sometimes those with nice shiny items to sell you or a quest for you to go on.

Skill customization is fairly in Din's Curse. First, let's talk classes. The typical archetypes are present of course, such as the mage, thief, warrior, cleric, and such. There is also a unique class called the Hybrid, which is exactly what it says: you're allowed to choose two skill trees (usually a class gets three), picking them from any of the other classes. This can mean less skills to choose from, but it allows you to, say, have the healing abilities of a cleric combined with the force of a fighter. It also lets you equip what you wish, more or less, since your possible armor and weaponry is based on the skill trees you have.

Each class gets three skill sets, each of which have the types of armor and weapons you can equip, basic abilities (such as slightly increase mana regen, small bonuses to do stunning blows, and so forth), as well as a list of active and passive skills that you can level up based on if you have enough skill points for them (there is no 'tree' structure to the skills here). What I did like was the ability to remove skills if you wanted, at the cost of some money. Allows for much customization without having to constantly restart your character or worry about if you're making the right choice.

Speaking of customization, there's even a good amount of it when you start a new game, such as what level you want the monsters to start at (for more or less of a challenge), how fast you want the pace of the game to be, and a variety of difficulties. In character creation, in addition to the standard 'hardcore' mode, there's also the option to play a cursed character, one who can only equip that which is cursed, objects that tend to lower some abilities. It's great for people who want a real challenge.

If there is one big gripe about Din's Curse, it's how the game looks and sounds. Graphics are very simple, with low-resolution models and unimpressive animations. Music is the same, and this really all comes from its indie roots. This is also apparent in its general interface, with things looking somewhat unpolished, simplistic, and generally not really up to standards of the market. With Torchlight's release still somewhat recent, Din's Curse has big problems with how it presents itself.

That said, the game is fun. And refreshingly new. When every game that comes out in this genre is just the same thing over and over again, Din's Curse brings a lot of new features to the table. Whether it's something big, like a dungeon with warring factions and towns that change as you play, or something small like requiring nothing but a couple seconds to identify items (instead of stocking up on identify scrolls all the time), it does a lot of things right, and certainly worth a look for any hack-and-slash aficionado.