Dark Envoy – Review
Follow Genre: CRPG
Developer: Event Horizon Limited
Publisher: Event Horizon Limited
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Dark Envoy – Review

Site Score
Good: Interesting combat mechanics
Bad: Both story and audiovisual presentation feel very generic
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

When Dark Envoy was originally released, it was overshadowed by a little indie game that you may have heard of, called Baldur’s Gate 3. Now that the dust has settled and players have finished Larian’s masterpiece, however, they might be looking for a new game to scratch their CRPG itch. And while there are plenty of options out there, like The Thaumaturge or Sovereign Syndicate, we felt like maybe Dark Envoy deserved another chance. As such, we’re digging the game up from our backlog and are taking an in-depth look at what developer Event Horizon Limited’s take on the genre serves up.


CRPGs tend to be story-driven affairs, so we were both surprised and disappointed to see that Dark Envoy’s narrative seemed like an afterthought. The basic premise lacks any semblance of originality, and the story is rife with two-dimensional characters and clichés that we could see coming a mile away. Set in the world of Jäan, Dark Envoy unfolds against the background of an eternal war waged between the human Empire and the League, which comprises non-human races. The League relies on magic to guide them to victory in the conflict, while the Empire harnesses the power of technology instead. While this is happening in the background, the central focus of the story is on twins Malakai and Kaela, two Relic Hunters trying to make a living in the City of Bones. This desert oasis has escaped the brunt of the ongoing war for a long time, but when the conflict inevitably arrives on their doorstep, the twins have no choice but to become embroiled in it.

This setting would be perfect for exploring the morally grey areas of war, especially since neither the League nor the Empire are depicted as being the good guys. However, Dark Envoy never really expands on its lore beyond outright saying both sides are bad but never showing it. At a certain point in the narrative you need to choose one of both factions to side with, but the choice feels inconsequential. Even the side characters don’t bat an eye at the outcome of your choice. Typically, CRPGs take the time to introduce a wide variety of interesting characters, even if they are archetypes, but Dark Envoy’s supporting cast lacks personality, and not a single person introduced here is memorable. That’s on top of the overall lack of narrative depth, which makes it difficult to really get invested in the story. The upside of this is that Dark Envoy doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming too convoluted, something other CRPG titles fail to avoid sometimes.


The lack of narrative depth is reflected in the character designs, as Dark Envoy’s cast looks about as generic as it gets. There is some degree of character customization present here but this is limited to the hairstyle and skin tone of the twins, presumably because this makes it easier to insert the characters in the game’s few animated cutscenes. Dark Envoy isn’t a bad-looking game, especially when it comes to the environments, and the game’s visual performance was adequate, even when there was a lot going on at once. However, the game lacks a distinct visual identity. Just take a look at the character portraits at the bottom of the screen in the above screenshot, as they perfectly illustrate how interchangeable the characters are. These are supposed to be distinct personalities, mind you.


The least we can say about Dark Envoy’s soundscape is that it is consistent: just like the narrative and visuals, the soundtrack sounds very generic, with nothing that stands out. After playing for several hours, individual tunes simply start to blend together. There is limited voice acting present here, but the quality of the performances is uneven, with the twins fortunately being on the better end of the spectrum. This is especially relevant as you can’t choose between different voices for them, just like you can’t change their names and only have limited options to customize their appearance. It begs the question of why they can be somewhat customized in the first place.


We’re still at the point where the CRPG genre hasn’t become oversaturated yet, even if there have been several high-profile releases over the last year. As such, Dark Envoy doesn’t really need to introduce unique mechanics or gimmicks to stand out, and for the most part, the game sticks to the genre playbook. You start out with just the twins in your party but after a few hours of playing, other characters join on the quest. There are six recruitable cast members and up to two of these can be in your party alongside the twins. You guide your rag-tag party across the world, which is presented from a top-down view, as you make your way through Dark Envoy’s narrative. Along the way, there are plenty of secrets to discover too, and exploration is highly encouraged throughout.

Initially, there are only four basic character classes to choose from for the protagonist siblings: Adept, Engineer, Warrior, or Ranger. Each of these can be specialized into one of three different paths as you progress through the game, resulting in a total of 12 advanced classes. While this bodes well for replay value, in theory at least, we were baffled to find that other party members couldn’t be customized or reclassed, meaning that in practice, building synergy between party members feels very limited. Granted, the twins themselves are fairly customizable, with a skill tree that rewards both passive abilities and active skills, but we felt like Dark Envoy missed the mark when it came to molding your party into a cohesive unit where each character feels like part of a bigger whole.

Where other CRPGs are typically less reliant on combat, in favor of a layered narrative and compelling characters, Dark Envoy’s combat mechanics are probably the game’s most interesting feature. Battles are fought in real-time against waves of enemies, with strategic gameplay built around a tactical pause feature. Enemies rush forward in a frontal assault, and you’ll need to queue up your attacks accordingly while the game is paused or significantly slowed down. You can choose where area of effect spells will land, for example, or line up ranged attacks. When Dark Envoy initially launched, combat was supposedly a janky and repetitive affair, but thanks to a series of subsequent updates and tweaks the game now truly shines in this aspect. You can further hone your skills outside of the main game too, both in a Training Room and a Challenge Arena, two features that were added based on player feedback. That said, even though combat does hog the spotlight in terms of mechanics, there are often ways to avoid it altogether if you prefer a more pacifist take. It’s always nice if you’re able to talk your way out of a sticky situation.

Clocking in at around 18-20 hours, Dark Envoy is a relatively short CRPG, although there are five different difficulty levels and the story branches based on the choices you make throughout. This adds some replayability to the game, but in all honesty, the bland narrative doesn’t really incentivize us to want to return to the game. Dark Envoy also offers an online co-op mode, but admittedly, we didn’t try this out, mostly because this does require finding someone who also has a copy of what is an outright mediocre CRPG. Dark Envoy isn’t bad by any means, but even in a market where high-profile CRPGs aren’t a dime a dozen, it is still outclassed by much better titles.


Although Dark Envoy gets a lot right when it comes to its gameplay mechanics, the game feels like it doesn’t quite understand why people play CRPGs in the first place. Choices feel inconsequential, the narrative is as generic as it gets, and it doesn’t help that we can’t even remember the name of a single NPC. While Dark Envoy’s combat is enjoyable for what it is, this is a rare highlight in what is otherwise an utterly forgettable game. It’s perhaps Dark Envoy’s biggest issue: it’s not that this is a bad game, just one that is bland and lacks personality.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Dark Envoy - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating


  1. 3rd-strike.com | Sands of Aura – Review
    May 8, 2024, 00:03

    […] few weeks have passed since we last took a dive into our backlog, but now we’re back with a title that has been whipping up a storm since it was released last […]

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
  2. […] this year we tried our best with Dark Envoy, a role-playing game where people do exactly as they would expect in certain games. Form a party, […]

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.