Dark Deity (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based strategy, RPG
Developer: Sword & Axe LLC
Publisher: Freedom Games
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: PC

Dark Deity (Switch) – Review

Site Score
Good: Solid SRPG gameplay
Bad: Menus can be frustrating to navigate
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Before we delve into Dark Deity, a quick disclaimer: we’re going to be mentioning Fire Emblem quite a bit in this review, for a very simple reason. Dark Deity is a game that takes a ridiculous amount of “inspiration” from Intelligent Systems’ venerable turn-based SRPG series. In fact, the similarities are so blatant that Fire Emblem’s influence is mentioned on Dark Deity’s Wikipedia page. Of course there will always be similarities between two games within the same genre, but if you compare other titles in the genre, like Triangle Strategy and Fort Triumph, you’ll see that they are still very different games. The differences between Dark Deity and Fire Emblem are far less noticeable, to the point where we’re wondering how the hell developer Sword & Axe LLC got away with certain things in the game. We’re not complaining, because we love Fire Emblem, so we were more than eager to discover how well Dark Deity holds up in comparison to its main source of inspiration.


In what is undoubtedly a nod to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Dark Deity starts out in a military academy, with four students forming the core group around whom Dark Deity’s story revolves. The Delian Kingdom, where the academy is located, becomes involved in a war, and King Varic decides to send the students to the front, whether they have completed their training or not. Our heroes, Alden, Garrick, Irving and Maren, are thrust into the conflict without being fully prepared for the horrors of war. Fortunately, they are joined by more experienced veterans and friends that they meet along the way. Together, this unlikely band of warriors has to overcome not just war, but also sinister figures in the shadows, who are looking for the Eternal Aspects, ancient magical artifacts that can change the fate of the world forever. The story that unfolds takes a while to get going properly and isn’t structured very logically, but once you get past the rough first hour, it quickly becomes very enjoyable. Just be prepared not to fully understand what’s going on during the opening chapter and that the game keeps throwing new characters at you in rapid succession. Once you get to know the cast eventually, mainly through support conversations, they’ll grow on you and things start to make a lot more sense.


There are two very distinct visual styles utilized here, with story scenes and dialogue presented through gorgeous static illustrations, and gameplay taking on a more retro look. During battle, you’ll be looking at sprites that look like they came straight from a Game Boy Advance game, specifically Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. According to Dark Deity’s Switch launch trailer, the retro visuals were updated compared to the original PC release, which seemed like the right call as the current version of Dark Deity looks fantastic. We did feel like some of the illustrated character designs also resembled certain designs from the Fire Emblem series a bit too much, such as Bianca, who looks very similar to Mathilda from Shadows of Valentia.


Despite the GBA-esque battlefield visuals, Sword & Axe LLC opted for an orchestrated score, which does wonders for the game. Although Dark Deity’s OST doesn’t quite live up to Rei Kondoh’s excellent work on Three Houses, Andy Han’s compositions for the game are still very enjoyable. Also of note is that Dark Deity boasts a surprisingly impressive voice vast, which even includes Griffin Puatu, who voiced Chad and Fáfnir in Fire Emblem Heroes, and AmaLee, whose YouTube channel features her singing songs from Fates and Three Houses. Unfortunately, the voice cast is woefully underutilized: instead of all dialogue being acted out, voice actors’ contributions are limited to key phrases and critical hit quotes.


The framework around which Dark Deity is built should be familiar to anyone that has ever played a turn-based SRPG, not just Fire Emblem games. Players take control of a party of characters, and move them around on a grid-based battlefield. The aim is of course to clear whatever the objective for a particular mission is, whether it’s eliminating an enemy leader, surviving for a set number of turns, or killing whatever is in your path until there is nobody left. As you do so, your characters will gain experience and level up, unlocking new abilities in the process. In between these missions, the story progresses, and you’re also able to deepen the relationships between your characters through support conversations.

The core experience very much looks and feels like playing a GBA-era Fire Emblem title, but there are a few key differences that set Dark Deity apart. The weapons system, for example, is much simpler: weapons won’t break after a set number of uses, and are permanently equipped to a character. While playing the game, you’ll earn upgrade points which can be used to permanently increase the effectiveness of a weapon instead of replacing it down the line with a better piece of equipment. Perhaps the biggest deviation from Fire Emblem is the absence of permadeath. Instead, when a character is slain in battle, they’ll receive a permanent penalty on their stats, effectively making them weaker for the remainder of the game.

There were other standard SRPG elements that we found sorely missing. The game lacks a pre-battle phase that allows you to position your units before engaging in battle, and there is no way to skip the enemy phase, meaning that you’ll sometimes just sit there watching enemy units walk around without doing anything else. You also can’t speed up or skip battle animations on the fly. You can turn them off entirely but the screen then awkwardly fades to black before the actual attack, which isn’t an ideal solution either.

Overall though, Dark Deity offers an enjoyable gameplay experience, especially for those looking to scratch their Fire Emblem itch, as it’s been quite a few years since we got a new mainline title in the series. Admittedly, the game could have used some streamlining: the game suffers from long load times and menus are difficult to navigate. The game also doesn’t always respond to button inputs directly, and you’ll need to push a button several times in order to make something happen. We don’t know whether or not these issues are present in the PC version of the game, but this is something that we hope will be patched out eventually.

With a fairly extensive campaign and multiple difficulty settings, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here, especially since the game costs roughly a third of what you’d pay for the real deal -which makes other games in the same price bracket, like Gem Wizards Tactics, seem like an even worse deal in comparison. Even so, we wouldn’t recommend this game to newcomers to the genre -the game’s tutorials are way too obtuse and while we found ourselves feeling at home on the battlefield, some of the other mechanics, such as the weapon upgrade system, aren’t explained thoroughly enough. It seems like Sword & Axe LLC themselves assumed that players would be familiar with the basics of Fire Emblem before venturing into the world of Dark Deity.


Through its broad similarities to Fire Emblem,as well as any rough edges present, Dark Deity feels more like a fan-made mod than an official release. Although Dark Deity doesn’t feel original in the slightest, it’s still a very enjoyable experience that is sure to delight fans of the genre. What the game lacks in originality is made up for through the gameplay experience itself, which is great, but also the well-written story gives it an edge. The game is less accessible for newcomers, due to the lack of a decent in-game explanation of specific mechanics, but you should give the original a go before you tackle Dark Deity in the first place anyway.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Dark Deity (Switch) - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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