Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony PSP

Throne of Agony may not be the best name ever conceived for a video game. One glimpse at the subtitle on the box and it is sure to bring back some bad memories of the one time you went to the bathroom with a distinct lack of All Bran in your diet – let’s just say it was a time better left forgotten. Thankfully upon playing it seem to be a much more joyful experience than the name implies.

After beginning its life back in 2002 on the PC and racking up a fair few games along the way along with a nice reputation for being a fun game to play Throne of Agony marks the series first foray away from the PC platform. You begin the game with the option to choose from three different heroes – sadly no pre-game customizable options are available. From there on it’s straight into a typical linear Dungeon Siege story – or should that be lack of – as the game tosses you into a forest setting and the hacking and slashing begins. From that point on all the gameplay on show is very similar to its PC counterparts. You meet a monster, you attack it, you select from a few options, you (hopefully) kill the monster, you pick up loot, you move on.

The gameplay is not amazing and at times feels archaic in its approach but it does work and as the old saying goes; why should you fix something that works so well? As you play though the game it can get very addictive as you level up, gain new skills, get new weapons, armour and potions to use. As you keep playing through the game you will hit level 30 and then the game gives you the chance to specialize your class from a selection of options which adds a little extra oomph to the game just as things were getting stale – at level 60 the game once again gives you more specialization options.

Another Dungeon Siege staple is also available in the PSP game as you have a companion or two to aid you in your quest. There is a selection of ‘followers’ available to pick and choose from with different skills available depending on who you chooses – their skills are also level-able and they will get stronger as you advance alongside them. Two player local wireless co-op is also available for those that have the means to do so.

There are however some glaring omissions when compared to the PC releases – obviously these are due to the limitation of the PSP hardware. The most noticeable one is the distinct lack of inventory space which seems to fill up a little too quickly, as a result it is very easy to get frustrated having to leave items behind as you try and sort through your best stuff and find out what you are willing to toss. Another small disappointment is the lack of an open world to fight through. Instead, players are offered a world map with areas to choose from.

The last change is to how the game plays – but this is actually a welcome addition. Taking the keyboard/mouse option away from any Dungeon Siege player could no doubt aggravate easily but thankfully a nice workaround using all the PSP buttons has been developed to offer an acceptable alternative. A total of eight different attacks can be bound to the face buttons or to the R-trigger and a face button meaning you should always have a fair amount of options at hand to take down whatever you come up against. Continuing on from this health potions are mapped to the L trigger, and mana potions are on L+R. Finally changing between ranged and melee attacks are left to just a simple tap of the D-pad.

Visually the game looks great and while not pushing the PSP to its limits it still manages to have an air of quality around it at all times. When none of the environments in the game are full of life they are however well detailed and diverse to keep things interesting – thankfully this diversity helps to alleviate the hack-and-slash repetitiveness mentioned above. Once you get by the first few stages – which are filled with trees tress and more tree things – get more interesting with fire and snow-filled areas. Characters are also nicely detailed and well animated. The collection of enemies looking to slash and hack at you is also impressive with new bad-guys appearing around every corner and different kinds looking for a fight as you advance from level to level. For anyone familiar with the PC version, lots of recognizable trademark details are waiting to be seen with light shining through trees and hitting the ground, a recognizable returnee from the PC games.

As for the music, it sounds just like you’d expect a Dungeon Siege game to sound – albeit trimmed down slightly. In fact I believe many of the tracks on show in the game have been used in the various PC releases. The types of music ranges from epic, eerie, folksy along with a few other genres combined with a nice collection of tempos to suit the compositions to their surroundings. All in all the music is not going to win any awards but it suits what’s happening on screen very well – and in the ends that’s what matters the most.

All in all SuperVillain Studios have crafted a fantastic little game with Throne of Agony and if it was not for some long load times between areas in conjunction with the collection of bugs and other eccentricities we probably would have rated the game a bit higher. We may not be a huge fan of ports and re-releases here on DarkZero but there is no denying the quality on show in this one. It is a must for dungeon crawler, hack-and-slash fans in possession of a PSP.

Beautifully presented, technically flawed.

7.8 out of 10