Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons & Donuts Review

What we liked:
+ Simple combat system that at least works
What we didn't like:
- Unfunny game that tries to be funny
- Floaty mouse movements
- Battles become bothersome
- Quests are boring
- Missing translations in the dialog
DEVELOPER: Silent Dreams   |   PUBLISHER: Meridian   |   RELEASE: 11/21/2011

Unfunny game is unfunny.

There are some games out there that are funny. Then there are games that just try to be funny. Then, there’s Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons and Doughnuts, a game that tries to be funny and fails big time.

Grotesque Tactics 2 is a tactical, grid-based, strategy RPG/dungeon crawler, or at least that’s what it claims to be. The game features a party of characters that you control and in turn-based fashion take on enemies on a gird until one of the two parties is left standing. This is true; it does at least play like a strategy game. How well does it play? Well about as well as it delivers humor.

You play as Drake, an “emo” hero in a world that is covered in a deadly fog that forces its inhabitants underground. Drake, along with a few other stereotypical party members, try to start up a guild in the underground. They have to compete against mercenaries, elves, and another guild full of ditzy women lead by an eccentric, egotistical “ladies man.” Yeah, it’s going to be one of THOSE games.

So, the game is a strategy/dungeon crawling game. There has to be quests, right? Oh, yeah, there’s a ton of quests. There are quests that lead you to other quests that you have to finish before completing the first quests. I swear, I was on a multi-pattern quest that had me doing 5 things at once just to open a door. Going through a dungeon just to find a locked door and having to go all the way back to where I started is not my idea of fun, especially when the combat is as boring as it is in this game.

The combat, like I stated above, is a grid-based strategy RPG. You can attack, defend and use mana consuming special abilities. These abilities are nothing special. They sometimes allow you to hit multiple targets or buff your stats for a few turns. It’s very basic. The biggest problem with the combat is that when you run into an enemy, the battle begins. When not in combat, you are controlling Drake, while the AI controls your party members. You hold down the left mouse button to walk. What ends up happening is Drake will pull ahead of your party members, and will run into an enemy. The battle begins and Drake is all by himself because he pulled too far away his party members. Now you get to spend 2 turns moving your other party members to the actual battle while Drake is trying to handle a fight on his own.

You gain experience points both individually, based on how made the kill, and as a party. You even get experience for just attacking enemies. When leveling up, you gain points to spend in a skill tree. The tree is not very complex, and you really don’t see that many benefits from adding points to certain skills. You can buy, find and acquire new weapons, armor, and accessories to equip, adding to your stats and attributes; once again, very standard.

The story is-well, you can guess how the story is by reading the description of the characters. Drake is the goofy voice of reason, a the stereotypical black guy that likes to hit on women, the ditzy blonde woman that loves candy and the sexual deviant undead chick that craves human flesh. It’s fully voice acted and you can tell even the voice actors were bored. The humor falls flat on its face and never even got a chuckle out of me; maybe a smirk once. They even go as far as to make fun of Final Fantasy XIII by having a character named Hope have you go on a quest to find him a new mother because a hero killed his first mom. Ugh.

Another wonderful feature I encountered with the game is the lack of translation in the dialog choices. Yes, there are dialog choices in the game that were never translated from German to English, so you’re stuck with a choice of “Translation not Available.” I’m not kidding. Also, for some odd reason, the mouse cursor is really floaty. It makes navigating menus and other controls very difficult to pinpoint to the point of frustration.

What can I really say about Grotesque Tactics 2? The story is lame, the quests are long and boring, the combat is shallow and it really does become a chore to play after just a couple of hours. Truth be told, the combat while annoying at times, does work and works well. The game is at least not broken in that aspect. It’s very simplistic and newcomers to the strategy genre won’t have too much trouble understanding the combat. Other than that, I’d steer clear of this game.

Review copy of the game provided by publisher.

Drew Leachman

Drew is the Community Manager here at ZTGD and his accent simply woos the ladies. His rage is only surpassed by the great one himself and no one should stand between him and his Twizzlers.

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  • Alyce

    Sick and tired of those crappy reviews for such a good game.
    you dont like the humor I get it. But what is with people who love the humor? you can’t be so intelligent to think about it, right?
    Btw. there was ONE “no translation missing” in the whole game…

    • Joel

      Sick and tired of people having opinions.
      You don’t like making up your own mind, I get it. But what is with people who can’t take a review with a grain of salt and try the game out on your own. You can’t be so intelligent to think about it, right?
      By the way, ONE “no translation missing (as you put it)” in the whole game is still a missing translation.

      Writing this with your terrible sense of sentence structure bothered me so much that I at least had to spell things right. You can put the apostrophe in “can’t” but can’t be bothered to put it in “don’t?” Now I’m nitpicking your comment just like you nitpicked this perfectly in-line review.

    • FrustratedFury

      I understand that there are some people out there that may find this game funny. I did not, which is why my review of the game reflects that. I found that playing the game became a chore. The combat wasn’t rewarding and the story just dragged on. Also, I ran into missing translations more than once. Even then, why release a game with even one missing translation? I respect your opinion on the game. Unfortunately, I do not agree with you.

      • Joel

        Bad Drew! You know you’re not supposed to have opinions! Not ever!

      • Alyce

        @Joel english is not my native language, but thx for the advice.

        Sorry my fault. I thought a journalist has to create a more objective review not only write his opinion . For example to think about it which people like the humor, wich not and which humor is similar? Maybe Deathspank / Baconing or something else? I mean this game is a second part of a series. Its not because there are only some people who liked it.
        Or “Quests are boring” Why they are boring? Are they boring in the style of Torchlight because everytime you have to find an item or kill something?
        Or because you dont like the humor in this quests?

        • Michael “PaladinXII” Futter

          There is no such thing as an “objective review.” If you are looking for a plot analysis or academic comparison, you might get some thing that is *less* subjective, but reviews are never meant to be impartial.

          You also mention that you are not a native English speaker, did you play the game in English? If not, your comment about there only being a single “no translation” at the same time makes more sense and becomes less valid. We reviewed the English version as we are an American site.

          You also make the assumption that our reviewer has played other games with similar humor style. Even if he has, the if he feels the humor is forced and falls flat, he is well within his right to say as such, especially since it seems so central to the game’s intent and purpose.

        • FrustratedFury

          Here’s the deal, when I write my reviews, I put in what I thought of the game. I don’t base my reviews on if the majority of the gaming community would enjoy the game or if a small percentage of the gaming community would enjoy the game. In order to understand where I’m coming from, you have to know the writer. I love dungeon crawling games, RPG both Western and Japanese, and turn-based strategy games. This game was definitely in my wheelhouse of games. I just didn’t like it. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me. Like I said, you are entitled to your opinion.

          I disliked the quests and found them boring due to the fact that they took you nowhere. Like I said in my review, doing one quest only to acquire more quests during that same quest is not very fun to me. You seemed to always be doing something, but never really finishing anything. I don’t like going around in loops all the time.

          Also, I have found several games to be humorous, but to use stereotypes that have been seen time and time again result in worn out punchlines. The game tries to use video game satire as well. A good example of a video game using video game satire would be Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. Sure, the game play was bland, but at least the jokes were intelligent.

          Once again, you are allowed to like the game. You are also allowed to disagree with my review of the game, but please don’t criticize my opinion and question my integrity as a reviewer just because you don’t agree with me.

    • Michael “PaladinXII” Futter

      Unfortunately, developers that can’t be bothered to finish the game don’t earn themselves leniency in the eyes of reviewers. As Drew mentioned, even one missing translation is too many, and he encountered more than you seemed to.

      Perhaps he simply played more of the game than you did?

  • Oskar “The M!nion” Hillebrandt

    I think any statement of opinion is fair as such, and I’m the last person to demand someone edit their opinion simply because they didn’t enjoy my work. I do think humor is extremely subjective, and with satire-games it will always be a hit-and-miss reception. That is why I appreciate the clarification that you personally did not enjoy the game, while leaving open that others may still.

    Just as, when reading a review, you have to know the writer, I would suggest that when playing a game, especially an indie game, it might also be important to know the developer. At the time of developing Grotesque Tactics 2, we were a core team of 7 people tackling a task meant for a much larger team, and though we delayed release as long as we could, knowing it wasn’t ready, we did eventually have to buckle to outside pressures. But we never did stop working around the clock towards completion, even now we are watching reviews, community forums and support channels, and releasing patches to fill the obvious and not-so-obvious gaps. I’m not making excuses, releasing a game that isn’t finished 100% is a big no-no, we agree on that. As a young indie team we’ve learned that development and quality assurance should not be done by the same people at the same time. It is a lesson we will apply in future projects. Repeated patching after release will be the reason why some had more “Translation Missing”s than others. If you played right after release, you saw a lot of them. If you’ve played more recently, you might have seen one, and as of tomorrow, you shouldn’t see any at all.

    GT2′s core element is the humor. Everything else pretty much wraps around that. Rayk Kerstan invented the world of Grotesque and all the characters in it, and his passion for his creation has infected all of us, or else we may never have volunteered for all that unpaid overtime and working through weekends. The dialogues and characters are the most prominent elements of the game, with everything else in a kind of supporting role. A side-effect of this setup is that if you don’t like the humor, you probably won’t enjoy the rest of the game either. And if you don’t, I wouldn’t fault you for it.

    The little voice that is less objective than the rest and carries the somewhat injured pride that must come with non-favorable feeback of your work does demand just a little satisfaction, I hope you can forgive me. I attended 90% of the recording sessions of the game’s voice acting, and everyone involved had a great time. Many had to stop to contain their laughter, I remember in particular Chuck Kourouklis, who did the voices of the demon doors and some other characters, had such a fit of laughter that it took him 10 minutes before he could continue reading the “doorgasm” dialogue. Those recording sessions were an absolute highlight, I hate to think anything resulting from them could be considered to be the sound of suppressed boredom.

    Anyway, that’s 2 cents from a dev. I hope there are some grains of salt left after reading it ;)

    • FrustratedFury

      Mr. Hillebrandt,

      You sir, have just earned my full respect. I appreciate your comments and your response to my review. I understand you and your team worked very hard on the game, and I know it is difficult to swallow when you read a review such as mine. I do feel that I should give credit where credit is due.

      I still believe that humor is very subjective, and the humor in your game, unfortunately, did not click with me during my time with it, but as I stated, that is not to say that some people will not enjoy it. I believe Alyce is a great example of this.

      Once again, thank you for your comments and perspective on my review. You handled your response with class and respect, and I thank you for that.