21 September 2017
It’s a fast and furious race through Hell in this colourful dungeon-crawler
Dungeon-crawling can be a slog. The excitement of venturing into the darkness and going toe-to-toe with the nasties lurking round every corner can quickly become a tiring exercise in endless dice rolls and frustrating deaths at the hands of an unlucky result or two. Arcadia Quest: Inferno cuts through the doom and gloom like a cartoon sword. Which also happens to be on fire.
Players’ guilds of three heroes venture down into the depths of the underworld (read: Hell) to defeat the Underlord (read: Satan). Only, the problem is, they can’t stop squabbling among themselves. As well as trying to complete environmental objectives, players can win each scenario by killing their fellow heroes, which stops them having to share the rewards. The amusing competitive setup makes for a fun drive to propel each scenario along and stop the group spending too much time simply clearing every last corner of the environment.
Combat is simple and fast. Yes, it involves rolling a lot of dice, but it’s so easy to resolve that it’s over in a matter of seconds. The same goes for activating enemies, who generally only attack when provoked (or if controlled by an opposing player). Turns can last seconds, rather than minutes, which lends an air of chaotic energy to everything, as players blast each other in the race for an objective. With near-instant respawns, death isn’t the be all and end all, but too many demises will earn you additional curse cards at the end of a round, which apply potentially negative effects for future missions – so it’s worth being at least a little careful, but it doesn’t impede the manic fun.
Curse cards are also earned by the new damnation tokens, collected when certain monsters attack or by players choosing to boost their own attacks or abilities at a cost. It’s an interesting risk-reward mechanic, that never feels overly punishing but gives enough pause for thought in later rounds as the tokens stack up. Similarly, brimstone cards and exploration tokens can be revealed on certain squares, providing an edge over rivals with special events or items – or potentially backfiring.
The campaign is very straightforward, with little narrative fat left untrimmed. Players can opt to take one of a number of paths through the game each time, with different missions becoming available and off-limits depending on previous decisions. Actions and achievements during each mission play a smart role – most notably the angels, who can be rescued and controlled as part of a team, or left to turn into more powerful foes later in the story. It’s hardly revolutionary, but there’s enough of a feeling of variety and consequence to stop every mission feeling the same – despite the map tiles having little variation. As you’d expect, players can upgrade their weapons in-between scenarios using earned gold, and a campaign sheet offers a painless way to pause and resume each roughly six-hour complete run-through.
The artwork is colourful and bright, matching the easy-going tone, while the plastic models pop with cartoon-like features and expression. It can be a bit of a pain to fit all the components back in the box and a little bit of time to unpack and set back up, but it’s not a total deal-breaker.
In short, Arcadia Quest: Inferno is a wonderfully simple way to dungeon-crawl with friends without taking up an entire evening – unless you want it to. The competitive aspects and more advanced gameplay are light enough to make scrapping with each other entertaining while avoiding repetition, but there’s still plenty going on to keep things engaging.
A perfect dungeon-crawler for those looking for something lighter and faster to play, Arcadia Quest: Inferno is an entertaining ride through the underworld. The branching campaign and good-or-evil angels mean it’s more than just the same old thing time and time again, while the fast and furious competitive gameplay remains a joy.
Publisher: CMON/Spaghetti Western
Genre: Dungeon crawling
Time: 60 minutes
This review originally appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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