I appreciate the effort and work of indie studios because they really have to put themselves out there and find a perfect way to make a game with a tight budget. Sometimes, it’s not more than ten people, although it can be less than five, as well. The enthusiasm and talent present in the indie gaming scene provide us with some of the exciting titles, especially for the smartphones and tablets. And Bulgarian studio Prime Games is certainly among those with a potential to evolve into something bigger and all thanks to their Dust and Salt series.
Dust and Salt: The Battle for Murk is the second installment in the series following the same gameplay principles. This is a narrative fantasy game taking place in the medieval type of world and this time you play the part of the enemy. To elaborate that, the first part was about Wayward who is now a barbaric leader at the gates of the city of Murk looking to revenge his father killed by the Murk assassins.
Unlike with Wayward, who we followed from boyhood to becoming a man, this game introduces Corporal Mandrake or Manny, as his partner Sirius calls him, who is on night patrol when Murk is under siege by Wayward. But during that watch, Manny and Sirius find out that a conspiracy is taking place by someone among the Seven High Lords to open the gates and let Wayward and his army in. They have until dawn to find out who is behind this and perhaps save the city.
Since The Battle for Murk is a narrative game, you will complete quests and make decisions through the story. It’s written in the first person, from Manny’s perspective making him the main character of the game. The decisions you make will affect the story and how it unravels, making it good or bad for you and your companions.
And yes, you can die and will have to start over, so think carefully about what move you choose. In my opinion, play cautiously since making courageous and rash decisions leads to your doom. At least that is the lesson I’ve learned from the previous game. Bear in mind that your decisions will also affect your wealth and stamina, which are important to progress in the game, as well.
The game is adequately written although sometimes it seems more like a retelling of the story then the story itself. This is not a bad thing since after all, this is a video game and not a novel. But the medieval setting and mystery about the conspirators could use a more epic tone. Nevertheless, the writing does its purpose and you easily get around the game.
And the choices before you are not so easy to decide. Whether you should go to the Temple of Despair and visit the monks there, or have a beer at the Cheers Lout tavern, it’s completely up to you. Although the best advice I can give you is to listen to your character and cooperate with him through the game. He’s quite vocal and is not shy to express his discomfort, opinions or feelings.
If you love board games and D&D, you will like The Battle for Murk since it’s based on the same principles. This is not a game that will be an obligation, but rather an enjoyment to play without strings attached. It’s almost like reading a novel but this time you are not just a reader but also a co-author of the story. And that is not something you get to enjoy every time you play a game and almost never when you read a book.