The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is a turn-based tactical RPG developed by Artefacts Studio and published by Dear Villagers. It originally released on PC in September 2020 then on consoles in 2021, and its final expansion, Back to Futon, released on Nintendo Switch recently in January 2023. Some more news is that a new game in the same universe was announced at Summer Game Fest in the form of Naheulbeuk’s Dungeon Master which I will cover in a future article.
If you love great toilet humour and puns, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos has them in spades, maybe even a little too much. If these aren’t your thing, then it could be grating to the overall experience, but I thought it was balanced well. I love good puns in games like Leisure Suit Larry and Hero-U, and the humour starts even in the game’s menu. You see a foreboding castle and then a band of heroes on a cliff, ready for action. However, down the bottom right of the screen, partially obscured by a bush, is the Ogre having a pre-battle wee! I resonated with every joke made, and there’s a lot of swearing so keep an eye on the kids playing this one.
The Naheulbeuk universe first appeared in an original creation by French author John Lang, titled Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk (The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk). It started as a very popular audio comedy series parodying role-playing, tabletop games, and heroic fantasy tropes in a medieval-fantasy world. After two seasons in audio format, books and comics were created, and now we can experience the world of Naheulbeuk as a video game for the very first time! It’s a fantastic tactical RPG and one I highly recommend.
Your party starts with a motley crew of seven heroes – the Ranger, the Elf, the Dwarf, the Barbarian, the Magician, the Ogre and the Thief. They are all superbly voice acted, led by none other than Felicia Day (The Guild, Geek & Sundry, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The banter between the party members, in particular the dwarf and the elf, had me laughing regularly. Each member of the team has their own skill tree to upgrade their abilities and equipment, and gear you find in the wild can only be used by certain character types. Some of the item descriptions are hilarious too, such as the common food broccoli.
Gameplay is great for an RPG too. You explore each area using point-and-click or WSAD controls. There are desks, bookcases and other items to search for loot, and plenty of NPCs to talk to. Some are just there for quick chats, others will give you side missions, all the while having humerous conversations and wild stories. Given the background lore to explore, there is a lot of dialogue. If you stand still for a little bit, someone is bound to pipe up with a wise crack or two, and that will spark a slew of insults hurled around the group.
Combat is tactical and turn-based, similar to Gears Tactics and Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2. You have a chance to set up your party in defensive positions and then start combat in turns. Be aware of the surroundings though as there are sometimes crates of goods that can set alight with fire and then explode with fire or poison damage, depending on the contents. I found this out the hard way numerous times. You’re also able to attack from a backstab or flanking position to do more damage, but similarly the enemy can do it to you as well.
You also need to be aware of archers/rangers and their line of fire. In other games where you may have a tank in melee range of a monster, an archer would just shoot over them to hit the monster. However, in this game, there’s a very small chance that the arrow will hit your own party member. Magic spells and wide swings of a large sword can also hit your own party members, so you need to carefully place your characters to hit enemies and not your own.
The first two acts help you to get used to the combat and gameplay without too much of a hassle, however it’s still very easy to have a party member incapacitated if they’re caught out of position and backstabbed. You are slowly introduced to three other characters, the Paladin, Minstrel and Priestess. You get to play and fight with them in your party, enough to get a feel for their skills and combat tactics. Once you’ve tried all three, you must choose one to join your party permanently. I liked all three classes, but always love a good paladin so chose her. It was a tough decision between the Paladin and Priestess as extra heals never go astray.
The battles can get quite frustratingly difficult, especially if you get out of position. Similarly, if you are bunching your party together so that the attacker gets a bonus for having adjacent party members, you can easily be foiled by a wizard dropping a firebomb on you. I had this happen numerous times where I thought I had things under control and only a few more turns to win, only to have 3 out of 4 in a group incapacitated with one perfectly placed spell. Thankfully the game autosaves often, and I always hard saved after each fight so I never really lost more than 15-20 minutes if a fight goes south. There are also the usual RNG misses despite standing right there in front of an enemy, but I’ve played enough tactical combat games to get used to this. It’s still annoying to lose a party member due to incessant missing/dodging.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is a fantastic tactical RPG with large doses of rude and crude humour. The humour is rife in this game and may not be for some, but I was laughing regularly, and the voice acting is outstanding from all actors. The tactical combat gameplay is difficult but fun to complete each quest and the graphics are superb. I think one play through will be enough for me, but you could replay and make different choices for the eighth party member.
This review utilised a Steam key provided by Future Friends Games. The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos is out now on Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. Keep an eye out for our article on the newly announced Naheulbeuk’s Dungeon Master.