DNF Duel (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 29.06.2022

Review for DNF Duel on PC

Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO) is a popular MMO that occupies a strange place where in the West it is very unknown, whereas in Asia it was the most played MMO at one point. It is a bit like World of Warcraft on steroids. The original game is over 10 years old in the West, and mixed 'beat em up' gameplay with heavy RPG elements of equipment, levels and vast arrays of skills and classes. DNF Duel is a fighting game based on the franchise, with a selection of classes from the main game as various fighters.

DNF Duel is a great looking fighting game by Arc System Works - of Blazblue and Guilty Gear fame. The game draws heavily on the source material of having 1 on 1 fights with a wild assortment of characters, from long range gunners, to hand-to-hand fighters, and somehow staying mostly balanced through all the craziness. While there is a small origin story section of the game, it is primarily multiplayer, with at this point cross-play between the PlayStation and Steam versions not yet implemented.

For those that do not recognize the name, Dungeon Fighter Online (often shortened to DNF or DFO depending on region) is a MMO game that first came over to the West in 2010. While MMOs were not unique, the game itself was, as it was loosely an 'RPG-Fighter' game that was very similar to more free flowing 'beat em up' titles like Double Dragon, except with classes, skills and equipment. Where the game shined was for pure fighting players, as there was a highly technical part of PVP combat; and for MMO/PVE players there was a completely competent story mode of levelling up the character, choosing classes and skills along the way.

Screenshot for DNF Duel on PC

The game was absolutely brutal on release. There were only a few characters at that time, and the difficulty was very high. This reviewer has fond memories of how hard the game was and the perverse joy of group-wipes and hanging out in the tavern doing PVP matches while everyone healed. The characters at the time were Slayer, M Gunner, Mage, Fighter and Priest. Of course now, there are both gender versions of all these base characters, and about 4-5 classes per character, easily making over 50 different classes, each one playing widely differently.

What is interesting about the original game is that there were characters that were very good purely at PVP and others made only for PVE. Further, PVP matches were highly tactical affairs as there was not just a simple 2D field (like this game has), but rather a largely 3 dimensional battleground where 'stepping off the line' of combat was a very valid evasion technique, which made a type of circling each other a fun part of the match to watch.

DNF Duel is a clear Arc System Works game, the style looks the same, and combat feels no different than their other titles. Of course there is a DFO flair to it, which will be covered, but for fans of their other stuff, they know what to expect here. Combat has a few major concepts to it, most attacks do a type of 'white' damage, which is not permanent until a magic skill hits, which then converts it to real damage. So typically combat involves stringing as much of a combo together as possible, and throwing a few special MP moves in there to lock the damage in. Each character has a slew of various normal combo moves, and a few of their special magic moves which are all drawn from the actual characters from the game.

Screenshot for DNF Duel on PC

As a fan and former player of the series, there is a lot of love seen in the game. From the exact attack animations the characters use, to various wall papers in the gallery from over 10 years ago, it hits the nostalgia in the sweet spot. Naturally, one of the problems could be that the class someone liked isn't one of the included ones, but it appears that there is going to be a likely stream of new characters coming, hinted at by the 'who's next' tagline - as to whether they will be paid DLC or not is unknown.

Combat is fast, and combos to kill a character from full exist; and while there are a few ways to break a combo, there is a strong element of skill and time invested that will determine how a player fares. Furthermore, each character plays widely different, from the long-range F Launcher with her lasers and guns, to the F Striker who is a close range fighter only; there is a ton of variety to choose from. Also expect a far more wild experience of huge hit boxes, and cross-screen hits, so someone looking for a 'realistic' fighter will want to stay away.

Screenshot for DNF Duel on PC

A few minor complaints are that on one hand, the cell-shading of the characters looks remarkably well, while on the other hand it doesn't have nearly the style the sprites of the actual game have. Sure, it looks cool but upon looking too close it falls into that uncanny valley that is hard to escape from. Another thing is that this game is purely a 2D linear fight. Anyone who played DFO will know that the game was on a 3D plane, meaning characters could move up and down, and outright run off screen. This is important as there were tons of strategies and different tactics with zoning, baiting and so on, whereas this title is just a slug fest. It's fun and good, but lacks a little of that nuance that made the original game so memorable.

The game looks and plays good, and as a fan of the original game there is a lot of fun memories; that being said, there are some concerns with how many players there are and how long the game will have its community. Fighters live and die based on player count, and without cross-play that is a problem, further without new characters (or a kiss of death DLC model) the game's days might be numbered. Regardless, it is fun, and players with zero interest in fighting games should still check out the MMO version of the game which is far more ARPG than fighting, and has lots of content.

Screenshot for DNF Duel on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

As a huge fan of the original series, there is a lot of style drawn from it. The action is fast and looks good, and seeing the characters in another format is a great surprise. Some caution is warranted as the price tag is hefty and the lack of cross-play between PlayStation and PC might shorten the game's lifespan. While not nearly as tactical as PVP was due to its 3D plane, now condensed down to its 2D linear combat, it's a fun romp and the gallery/glossary of the lore is appreciated. In the end, as good as this game is, it's more of a reminder how much better DFO is.


Arc System Works







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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