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The Dark Spire Reviews (Nintendo DS)

Published by
Developed by
Everyone 10+
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Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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5 point score based on user ratings.

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Critic Reviews

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Play Magazine (Apr 14, 2009)
Spire is simply too niche for most. But if you can squeeze yourself into that niche, prepare for addiction to take root.
Game Shark (May 14, 2009)
In one moment, The Dark Spire is utterly captivating, and the next, it’s aggravation distilled to 200 proof. At least we can take comfort in the fact that this is a fully-fledged RPG, and not a nostalgic knockoff. As archaic and sadistic as The Dark Spire will surely seem to gamers raised on the post-FFVII world of Square Enix, it is proof that luscious graphics and orchestral scores will never oust the foundations of solid, old-fashioned gameplay.
Gamervision (May 06, 2009)
The Dark Spire is a challenging, unique, and well-made game that stands out in more ways than one. However, its old-school look and brutal difficulty make this a title that will only appeal to a small group of gamers. If you’re looking for something different on your DS, this is definitely worth a try. There is a lot of trial and error involved, and you’ll likely get wiped out a handful of times before you even make it to the second floor of the Spire, but there’s also a lot to like about The Dark Spire. If Atlus had made it a bit less grueling and more approachable while still retaining its vintage feel, The Dark Spire would probably be a game for any RPG fan to buy, but as it stands you should probably try it out first to make sure you have the patience for it.
Having no real prior experience with Dungeons and Dragons myself I found the game difficult, but not annoying. While it can be frustrating sometimes when you run out of magic and potions in the middle of a big labyrinth, running away from enemies is not too hard as you make a mad dash for the inn beyond the dungeon exit. I found the character and party customization really awesome; it made me more attached to these characters I created myself (rather than just leading some angsty teenage RPG stereotypes through their various adventures). This game does demand a certain level of grinding though; that is, if you want your characters to be able to do enough damage to kill things, or have enough spell points to keep your party healthy as you traverse the many dungeon floors. I also must give kudos for the artwork, as it carries a very western, old-school comic-book feel that is quite a change from the very anime-oriented artwork of today's modern RPG's.
IGN (Apr 16, 2009)
For the one out of 1,000 gamers out there that dig on this experience, or want to try a truly impressive throwback, this is a must-buy. For those that don’t see the appeal, don’t think twice about skipping this one, as The Dark Spire is about as traditional and hardcore as it gets. You either love it or you don’t, and there isn’t a number rating out there that can say for sure what camp you fit in.
Let it be known, The Dark Spire is not for everybody, even for those claming to be elite RPG gamers. However, if you seek a very deep and rewarding game of a higher difficultly caliber then I would say don't hesitate and pick this up as soon as you can. I would like to thank the developer Success and the publisher Atlus for bringing out such a deep and captivating gameplay experience.
GameZone (May 06, 2009)
If you acquire the taste of The Dark Spire, it will engage and entertain your senses for hours.
Gaming Age (May 06, 2009)
Still, it's obviously not a game I can suggest to everyone. It's not a great introductory RPG, and like I mentioned earlier, even among RPG fans it's only going to appeal to a small group. However, if you enjoyed titles like Etrian Odyssey, I think you should absolutely give The Dark Spire a try, it's definitely taken from the same vein, and while it's a bit more archaic in design than EO, it's well worth playing. Just keep in mind what type of game you're getting into, and realize that the challenge bar is pretty high, and you should have some fun with it.
Gamernode (Apr 30, 2009)
Undeniably niche and uncompromising, The Dark Spire will earn the ire of the many players who aren't interested in the classic gameplay found within, but put smiles on the faces of those who are.
Destructoid (Apr 14, 2009)
That being said, The Dark Spire is simply not a game for everybody. The patience it takes to level your characters up enough to even pass the first few levels of the dungeon is of a quality that many gamers will not possess. However, for hardcore fans of dungeon crawlers and roguelikes, The Dark Spire will provide a stylish and enjoyable experience that will keep you busy for some time. You have to hand it to Atlus and Success for taking on a project that's aimed at such a niche audience -- their passion for giving gamers a hardcore title obviously ranked above any need to dumb the game down. Bravo!
NintendoWorldReport (Jun 12, 2009)
The Dark Spire is a great game. Unfortunately, it will only appeal to a very specific audience due the game's difficulty and archaic style. Fans of old first person RPGs that want to relive that experience should definitely purchase this. For the gamers that are curious as to how first person RPGs were back in the '80s, a rental is recommended. For all other players, avoid this title.
RPGFan (May 31, 2009)
Have you ever been so amazing at something - the best at a sport, the valedictorian - then all of a sudden be one-upped by someone who was leagues better than you? In a way, The Dark Spire was that someone for me. I've played tough games before, but this was something I really wasn't expecting. I was blindsided, and in a way, feel defeated due to my inability to handle it at times. With that said, if you take one thing from this review, let it be this: The Dark Spire is not for everyone. I know that's a pretty clichéd blanket statement that you might see thrown around a lot, but I really do think it's the best way to describe it. The sparse story is not for everyone. The simplistic battle system is not for everyone. The difficulty? Definitely not for everyone. But regardless, at the end of the journey, after the countless deaths and billions of bruisings, the stat rolling and puzzle solving, you will undoubtedly feel accomplished.
Antiquated concepts limit this title’s appeal by requiring repetitive tasks and enforcing a punishing difficulty level. However, players who don’t mind grinding and reloading may find themselves eagerly pursuing the tower’s many hooks. Well-designed puzzles and interesting encounters, like a mid-tower gambling den and a pirate hideout, await the patient adventurer. Still, this is far from a game for everybody. RPGs have changed a lot in the last quarter-century, and there are reasons for that.
Game Critics (Apr 23, 2009)
Despite that beef, The Dark Spire is a pleasing throwback to an era when games were actually hard and beating them felt like a legitimate accomplishment. I didn't get to see the end credits on this one (a mark of shame on an otherwise perfect RPG record...), but I suspect I'll be making a return trip to climb this spire again.
Legendra (Sep 08, 2008)
Genmu est un jeu particulier. Son attachement au genre du Dungeon RPG en fait d’apparence un clone d’Etrian Odyssey mais Genmu possède ses propres particularités. Le système d’évolution et de restriction est unique et bien pensé, et le cachet esthétique est prometteur. Pourtant répétitif, Genmu fait montre d’une grande inventivité grâce à ses deux modes graphiques, et chaque joueur vivra l’aventure à sa manière. Genmu est quand même limité en terme de gameplay pur, et inaccessible au tout venant. Attendons une sortie US pour vraiment profiter de ce soft qui mérite largement le coup d’œil.
GamesRadar (May 18, 2009)
The Dark Spire certainly attained its goal of creating an homage to classic dungeon-crawling RPGs. But its confusing design choices and unforgiving gameplay may turn off anyone born after 1990.
Worth Playing (Jun 08, 2009)
Games like The Dark Spire prove just how subjective game reviews are; while it is near perfection in its chosen genre, the average gamer would trade in this game or simply throw it away after spending less than an hour with it. The barrier to entry is exceptionally high, just the way a small subset of the populace likes it, but it walls off the game from any legitimate retail success. If you crave a challenging, unforgiving, old-school game, then this is the perfect choice. However, if you require even the slightest bit of accessibility or don't relish the thought of experiencing a game as work rather than fun, then The Dark Spire has nothing to offer you. This is purely a niche game, and if you're not a part of the clique, you're not going to get it.
RPGamer (Jun, 2009)
Ultimately, the appeal of The Dark Spire will be limited to those looking for a trip down memory lane or those looking for a challenge. A journey into the Tower of The Dark Spire is not for the faint of heart. The creators set out to create a game that carried the spirit and challenge of the dungeon crawling games of two decades ago. They succeeded. And while they did make some minor improvements to the formula and coupled them with nice graphics, they also tacked on some unnecessary difficulties. However, The Dark Spire faithfully recreated an early dungeon crawling experience, that any veteran RPGamer will appreciate on some level.
1UP (Apr 24, 2009)
I recognize that a certain audience will love the prospect of overcoming stacked odds, but as faux-retro games like Mega Man 9 have proven, mimicking the classics only really works when you sand down the old school's rough edges with a little modern wisdom. Dark Spire recreates both the best and worst qualities of a bygone era, making for a taste that's difficult to acquire.
RPGamer (Jun 14, 2009)
To that certain subset of RPGamers who have an affinity for games like The Dark Spire, Success's game is a success. To players who prefer that the innovations in the RPG field be acknowledged by what they play, this game will be immensely unappealing. The game is enjoyable when exploring the depths of the tower, but such joy will prove fleeting when a bad invisible dice roll forces the player to reload a prior save. Stripped of nostalgic fondness, the 'good old days' prove to be a much more painful period than most present players would prefer to partake of.
Clearly, the focus was on nostalgia for nostalgia's sake here, and that doesn't make this any easier. Success even decided to include the old wireframe level models from the original game. Sometimes we can look at the old titles and learn something. Sadly, this one's showing every wrinkle.
RPGamer (Jun 14, 2009)
To that certain subset of RPGamers who have an affinity for games like The Dark Spire, Success's game is a success. To players who prefer that the innovations in the RPG field be acknowledged by what they play, this game will be immensely unappealing. The game is enjoyable when exploring the depths of the tower, but such joy will prove fleeting when a bad invisible dice roll forces the player to reload a prior save. Stripped of nostalgic fondness, the 'good old days' prove to be a much more painful period than most present players would prefer to partake of.