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Dark and Darker Mobile is in exceptionally good hands

We had the opportunity to sharpen our battleaxes and prepare our spells to preview Krafton’s dungeon crawling mobile extraction game, Dark and Darker Mobile.

squad of three dark and darker mobile players entering a dungeon

The name Krafton is synonymous with awesome mobile ports thanks to its work with PUBG Mobile, so when the Dark and Darker community heard that it’s the South Korean publisher porting their beloved dungeon-crawler extraction game to mobile, players knew they were going to be in good hands. We got the opportunity to visit the Krafton offices in Seoul to playtest Dark and Darker Mobile, and even pre-release, there are absolutely no worries for this port.

Instead of just instigating a copy and paste of Ironmace’s Dark and Darker, Krafton and developer Bluehole Studio have endeavored to make Dark and Darker Mobile its own separate entity. As we discussed in our interview with Joonseok Ahn, Krafton’s lead producer on Dark and Darker Mobile, it’s very important to them that people see DNDM as its own beast. To take a game that already has such a massive community and stay true to what makes it so well-loved, while also perfecting the gameplay for handheld devices, is something that both Krafton and Bluehole Studio should be equally proud of.

Right out of the gate, Dark and Darker Mobile feels exceptionally clean to play. Where Ironmace’s PC game has so much going on it can sometimes feel overwhelming, even for seasoned players, and there was an understandable worry that it would feel pretty clunky on such small devices. But that concern is put to bed the moment you boot the game. From an instinctive UI, buttery smooth and intuitive looting and inventory organization, and combat that feels engaging and satisfying even as a lowly level one character, Dark and Darker Mobile is a joy to play.

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Fans were incredibly intrigued when one of the most recent Dark and Darker Mobile trailers showcased a unique spin-attack with a barbarian character, and the way Krafton and Bluehole Studio have optimized the Dungeons and Dragons style combat for mobile is, quite honestly, exemplary. With a multitude of different styles and abilities, every single class feels good to play. Whether you’re a stealthy rogue hiding in the shadows and waiting for the opportune moment to strike, a ranger raining hellfire on enemies from the backlines, or better yet, a barbarian just bonking anyone you see, it feels amazingly fun every time you land a shot.

The combat is by no means easy, but the ratio between fun and challenge is a perfect cocktail. It needs to be, because mobile gaming thrives on ease of access. With just your two thumbs to make plays with, it needs to be intuitive, smooth, and responsive, and taking on fights in Dark and Darker Mobile ticks all of those boxes, regardless of who you’re going up against. It still holds the same level of hardcore gaming as Ironmace’s PC version, but with the addition of dedicated PvE and PvP dungeon maps, Dark and Darker Mobile caters to everyone without it feeling as though they’re making unnecessary cuts to the core gameplay.

These new elements, as well as the introduction of a helping hand in the form of AI mercenaries that you can hire to dive into team-based dungeons with you, all serve to keep players returning. Extraction games can be understandably frustrating, because you can spend a good amount of time battling your way through a map, getting your hands on a wealth of valuable loot, only for it all to come crumbling down when you get smashed in the head by a fighter or barbarian right at the very end.

dark and darker mobile gameplay on samsung 24 ultra mobile phone

It’s par for the course, but Krafton and Bluehole Studios have combined the core extraction gameplay with a mix of battle royale, RPG, and classic dungeon-crawling elements to keep it feeling fresh. So, even if you do have a run of bad games, you can take a breather by felling some monsters in PvE without the stress of the original mode.

This ‘mid-core’ version of the game acts as a gentle tonic to the stress of PvP, and you can mentally prepare for your next run while still playing the game itself. It makes it impossible to put down but in a very, very good way. DNDM is its own entity, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be pigeonholed into just being an extraction game or just being a dungeon crawler, it can be played exactly how you want to play it.

Krafton and Bluehold Studios are avid fans of the original game, and it shows in the way they want to stay true to Ironmace’s Dungeons and Dragons-inspired extraction game. They are perhaps a little wary of changing too much but are confident enough in their vision to make alterations that keep the game feeling intuitive and a pleasure to play. The dedicated PvE dungeons, as well as the help of the AI mercs, are all welcome additions to the core game that set Dark and Darker Mobile apart from its PC counterpart.

We only have five classes so far, with barbarian, fighter, ranger, rogue, and cleric available to play in our preview of the game, and we know that the wizard and bard classes are on their way, too. We can’t help but wonder whether the druid class will make an appearance at some point and whether Krafton and Bluehole Studio will beat Ironmace to the punch with its introduction to the dungeons, but for now, the future looks incredibly bright for Dark and Darker Mobile.