5 Overall Score
Gameplay: 5/10
Graphics: 5/10
Sound: 6/10

Okay soundtrack | Exploration can be fun

Below average graphics | Poor combat system

Game Info


DEVELOPER(S): Mechanic Arms


PLATFORM(S): Nintendo 3DS

GENRE(S): Dungeon Crawler

RELEASE DATE(S): February 19th, 2015

Excave is a very simple dungeon-crawling RPG available now on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Well, that’s what the description of the game says. The RPG part is debatable, but more on that later. First, there’s a quick confession I feel I should make upfront: I had never played a dungeon crawler before I played Excave. It’s all the sadder to think about when realizing that Excave is not that great of a game.

A brief, text-based introduction establishes the game’s storyline: a magic research facility located beneath the town has mysteriously turned into a labyrinthine demon’s nest. An obvious typo in the introduction (which will probably be seared in my mind forever) made me cautious about the upcoming game, and rightfully so. The king is in search of “adventures” who are brave enough to explore the maze and hopefully find a magician who is lost deep within.

One commendable thing Excave did was to at least give me an idea of what makes dungeon crawlers fun. The idea is to explore the labyrinth, fight monsters, and find treasure. Exploration in Excave is pretty engrossing. The main objective is to reach the lowest levels of the labyrinth, but if you bring silver and gold keys with you, it’s possible to take detours to find more treasure. The only unfortunate thing about that is that the treasure itself rarely feels worth it. You may find a weapon in a treasure chest, but chances are you already picked up the same one from a random monster drop, possibly multiple times, in fact. There’s no treasure hierarchy in this game that will give you the satisfaction you crave in searching.

Another aspect of the game that works fairly well is the character selection, but again, it doesn’t reach it’s full potential here, either. You can basically choose between a male or female character (at any point in the game), both of whom are nameless. The main differences between the two are the weapon types they can wield. This at least gives you a reason to try both out, despite the forgettable character designs.

The poor combat system in Excave is the most unforgivable sin it commits, however. You’ll equip the weapon of your choice to the A button and simply swing or shoot away until it breaks, which is when you may want to switch to another. It gets incredibly boring after a while. You can also equip a shield or one-time-use magic tome to the B button, but this doesn’t help much, especially since you have to take a moment of time you may not have to look at the touch screen and slide your chosen tool from your inventory to the B slot. Yeah, that gets old too.

The dull combat might not be a problem if the enemies were interesting, but alas, they are not. Quite often you’ll simply be surrounded by a horde of enemies, and there are really only two possible strategies to employ: mash the A button or get a few hits in and run away, wash, rinse, repeat. Boss battles break the mold somewhat, fortunately. One mildly interesting one early on has you running away from an indestructible blue blob, breaking through obstacles to get to the end of a winding hall; it’s surprisingly tense.

You can equip up to three accessories to your chosen adventurer that alter his/her stats. This is the only way I can see that the game is an RPG, but there are only four or five types of accessories; you’ll find stronger versions of them as you progress, is all.

Excave’s graphics and art style get the job done, if nothing else. I was just a little miffed when I found out there is no stereoscopic 3-D effect to speak of. I was actually getting excited to play a game that utilized the “super stable” 3-D effect of the New Nintendo 3DS XL, so I was disappointed there. The music in Excave is suitable, but that’s about all that can be said of it too.

The Recommendation

If you like dungeon crawlers so much you can forgive a poor combat system and interface, then pick up Excave, by all means. Just know that just about every facet of the game is at or below average before you do.



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Author: Holly Fellmeth View all posts by
Site Manager/Editor - Holly's favorite hobby is playing new or different games. She believes there is no other medium that can offer such weird and wacky things as the gaming industry can. Her Nintendo Network ID is Aeroweth.