Game: Siralim Ultimate
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox, PS4 and mobile)
Developer|Publisher: Thylacine Studios
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $19.99 | UK £19.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: December 2nd, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Thylacine Studios.
Forth Means Ultimate
Many games this year have had a go at the dungeon-crawling formula, but Siralim Ultimate takes the genre back to its top-down roots with random level generation. Turns out the Siralim series already had three entries and quite a dedicated fan base.
So this will be one of those reviews where I put my cards on the table and admit that this is my first foray, but I do have experience with classic dungeon crawlers games all the way back to Fatal Labyrinth on the Mega Drive, which was pretty awesome. Siralim Ultimate is an addictive dungeon crawler with a monster-catching mechanic. You can’t go wrong with this one if you’re looking for something to sink hundreds of hours into in long or short bursts.
An Alliance Broken
As the ruler of Siralim, you wake up to a vision of the God Caliban, who instructs you to go after King Lucious, the ruler of Nex. For years you have enjoyed a jolly alliance, but it seems King Lucious has been corrupted by the one ring, sorry, I meant the Nether Orb. A relic which can control the Gods themselves, which he intends to use to conquer Siralim. It’s a pretty serious setting for a plot but the game peppers in a lot of humour into its dialogue, which I’m not sure gelled well with me. With the fantasy setting, I guess I was expecting something that would take itself a little more seriously. But it felt like every conversation was attempting to joke about something.
To the game’s credit, a lot of effort has been put into the dialogue with several NPCs and Gods to meet and talk along your journey through the realms. It’s probably a Marmite situation where you either love it or hate it. If you do fall into the latter, you are able to skip through the dialogue. Keep in mind there is a lot of text to read in this game, and that doesn’t just stop with the dialogue, but we’ll get to that.
Catch Them All
The general goal of Siralim Ultimate is to explore randomly generated dungeons, completing some basic quests before heading into a boss room and trying your luck with it. You don’t battle with weapons; you will enlist the help of up to 6 monsters in your party to take on enemies in quick turn-based battles. You start out with two monsters, but as you do battle with others in the dungeons, you acquire mana which can then be used to summon that monster back at base.
Some monsters only need to be defeated once to summon; others must be destroyed several times, depending on their rarity. It won’t take long before you start accumulating tons of these monsters. You can equip each monster with artefacts and spells to customize them further. Later on, you can even fuse monsters together, creating a new abomination that inherits the stats and traits of the prior monsters, and it is usually super-powered.
You’ll find much of your time is spent looking at stat sheets and menus, probably more so than exploring in the dungeons. Eventually, you’ll craft the perfect 6-party killing machine. It gives the monster collecting a kinda card collecting vibe, only less shiny and more pixelated. If things don’t go to plan in the dungeons, you simply get bounced back to the main hub area to re-tool your party and consider an alternative strategy.
I did like how after each battle, your party is fully healed. This allows you to go full force per battle rather than holding back, which feels quite satisfying. The game even allows you to make notes in the options menu, but personally, I’ll stick with good old pen and paper. This design is pretty addictive once it clicks, but if the idea of flicking through menus for ages doesn’t sound appealing, then this may not be for you.
Climb the Mountain
The game’s barrier to entry initially felt pretty steep. You’re asked to choose a class at the beginning of the game, but you are given the choice of over 30 specializations. The choice just seemed a bit overwhelming, which continued on for a while. You’re then given a brief tutorial on the battle and upgrade systems before trying your luck in the dungeons. The game does gradually trickle and instructs you about additional features like the ability to fuse monsters and how to speed the battles. With all the menus and instructions, it did all kinda make my head spin.
But through the game’s general playing, things started to make sense to me; it just took a few hours to get there. Something which may put off those wanting that quick jump in gaming experience. After pressing on with the game, things settled, and I really enjoyed myself. I soon learned the initial class pick doesn’t matter as you can change it later to your heart’s content. You can also tweak the game’s difficulty, which doesn’t penalize your gaming experience. Once you overcome this initial hurdle, this is a game that’s quite easy to dip in and out of, even in short gaming bursts. You can save absolutely anywhere, even during dungeons.
The Pixel Look
The pixel-style graphics feel right at home with games released in the genre all the way back in the old PC days but may appear dated to people perusing the eShop. Dungeon designs feel a bit plain with basic maze-like designs and tile colours, even if they are randomly generated. If the gameplay hooks you or you like your retro, it’s likely this won’t bother you.
I will give praise to the monster designs. You will see a ludicrous amount of monster sprites; we’re talking over a thousand monsters, so you’re bound to find a favourite somewhere in the mix. You may enjoy decorating your castle with various trinkets if you like cosmetics. The soundtrack is also great. A unique score for each dungeon keeps you engaged as you explore and fight.
Conclusion – Bottomless Pit of Dungeon-Crawling Addiction
Siralim Ultimate is a bottomless pit of dungeon-crawling addiction that will keep you busy for hundreds of hours. The entry barrier may be steep for those totally new to the genre. The game focuses more on diving into the menus and stats than action, which may not work for some gamers.
With patience and investment, you can enjoy this in long and short bursts, just not straight away. The developers clearly made a game for their fan base, who will likely be delighted to dive back into this on Switch. It is clear from the game’s main menu that the developers are also committed to supporting it post-launch. So long as you have the time free, this dungeon crawler may just make a new fan out of you and, most of all, keep you busy for a very long time.
Final Verdict: I Like it