Published on February 8th, 2023 | by Scott De Lacy
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey XBox Review @SalixGames
Dance of Death is a point and click crime solving adventure story, where the protagonists are Sir Lancelot Du Lac, and Morgana Le Fey from the King Arthur legend.
The two major story arcs include the predicament of immortality cursed upon Du Lac and Fey, and the origins of their story, which leads them to seek out Merlin. The other, is the interconnected Whitechapel murders, otherwise known as the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888.
Make no mistake, this is a highly nuanced, cleverly interwoven story of fact, myth, legend, intrigue, and of dark occult themed murder and mayhem. Presented in a very adult-oriented, confronting and graphic depiction of these themes; and as such, is not suitable for children.
The player is often presented with the ability to switch controls between Du Lac and Fey, which give the player access to unique abilities that the characters poses. For example, Fey being a dog, may speak to other animals and ask them questions about a crime scene.
On the Xbox One, the player is navigated with the left joy-stick which is at times like trying to drive a shopping trolley. Certain areas, particularly the Whitechapel Christ-Church is infuriating as the camera will suddenly alternate view and the players directional controls rotate with it; a common annoyance with such games – why can’t they just fix that?
Areas of interest can be toggled with the right joy-stick, provided the player character is within physical range. This also is somewhat frustrating as what you had thought was selected can suddenly move and shift with ‘joy-stick bounce’, but again its neither here nor there.
The choices made in dialogue can affect the final outcome and relationships among the player characters, so special care need be taken in the choices made.
There is also a mini-game for fight scenes and potion mixing, which is an interesting change of pace, although it is a departure from the main play style. Any player hoping to have a lazy point and click will be disappointed during these brief moments.
What is quite surprising is when the player character is tested for their power of observation, you never will know what is truly important and not important, and as such, each flash of imagery can be full of vital clues that must be remembered in order to provide the correct answer.
The scenery captures the streets of Whitechapel beautifully and although simplistic in the approach, there is still a lot of detail that is incorporated, especially with clever uses of lines, shading and lighting.
Filled with static animations, such as movement of birds or minor character animation, the senary is mostly a backdrop forming obstacles for the player character to move around.
The graphics are somewhat dated, even at the time of release, although the expectation for a point and click adventure game is usually rather low from the offset. Yet the simplistic, cartoon character style is mixed with a 3D rendering style that works in many ways to compliment the overall picture, but then in contrast, at times ruins the aesthetic.
Drawing the eye, the cartoon style NPC depictions mixed with the 3D rendering of Fey draws focus and serves as a distraction. It would have been far better to keep everything the same, especially between standard play style and the more advanced cut scenes.
We do see several animation styles mixed together, not all of them done perfectly, but before too long, the player can and will look past this once the story takes hold of them. But it is a shame, it could have been better.
Audio and voice acting
The music score is appropriate for the context, strikes the right balance of intensity, whimsy and emotion, whilst also feeling very appropriate for the time period. Perhaps not likely to win any awards, the musical score is often understated and appropriately takes its position in the background and away from the players direct focus.
The true accomplishment of Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is the expert voice acting, which is outstanding and enhances what is a a tremendously written script. The marriage of this brilliant script and the performances of Perdita Weeks (Fey), Gareth David-Lloyd (Du Lac), Alexandra Roach (Mary Kelly) in the lead roles, as well as standout performances by the supporting actors including Rupert Vanisttart, and rising star Harry Hickles.
The expression of passion and raw emotion can be felt in the delivery of their lines and the interaction between the cast in some of the most pivotal moments throughout the story.
The only criticism is that the acting is at times so good, that it is the graphics that underwhelm the performance.
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey is certainly surprising as it is one of those games that ‘sneaks up on you’. First impressions seemed underwhelming with a ‘soft start’ prologue, which at first set expectations low, but then completely transcends itself with spectacular script and voice acting.
The unexpected plot twists and story arc is far more advanced then games of this genre and frankly speaking, most games in general.
There are a number of dialogue choices that can be made that will influence the story and character interaction and final outcomes, which opens the game up to multiple play-throughs’ giving some further value to the game. That being said, due to the play style and the annoyance of character movement, further replays may perhaps be a cause of frustration than enjoyment.
Although a critical analysis may find the game wanting in terms of graphics, player movement and simplistic approach; the well researched story and voice over work in this game, far eclipses any criticism that can be weighed. Simply, Dance of Death is an enthralling and highly enjoyable game.
Summary: A brilliantly written story and outstanding voice acting. Perfect for a casual weekend play on the XBOX One