The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – Back to the Futon expansions – just Back to the Futon from now on for my sanity – is a substantial conclusion to The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk story, packed with more entertaining dialogue, more riddles and traps, new character skill tiers, high-quality loot, and an abundance of tough-as-nails battles. It’s also an expansion designed exclusively for long-time fans that have completed all the base game, the first DLC chapter, and have a max-level, well-equipped party ready for a challenge.
As we never reviewed the base game, I’ll start with a quick overview of The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk if the release of this final expansion has piqued your interest. Based on a French audio series that parodied role-playing games and their predictably heroic cast, you take control of the world’s least cohesive and competent adventuring party attempting to raid the titular “Dungeon of Naheulbeuk” – actually a tower you work your way up. Mechanically, it’s a traditional tactical RPG similar to other turn-based adaptations of tabletop games that use D&D-inspired rulesets. There’s the two-action per turn structure, a strong focus on positioning – think proximity to allies, cover, and the direction you’re facing – and a high degree of challenge for fewer but tougher encounters.
Humour is always subjective but what sets The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk apart for me is the quality of the writing, frequent party interactions, combat quips, and the absurd situations that make it impossible to predict how your narrative choices play out. The Ranger is desperate to play the leader and impress others but is cripplingly insecure; The Elf is kind-hearted but socially inept and incredibly dense; The Dwarf is self-centred, snarky, and constantly mocks the Elf; The Barbarian only know enough words to get into a fight; the Orc chef just mumbles incoherently and laughs at the misfortunes of others; while the Mage thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. Naturally, each hero archetype is based around min-maxing pair of attributes and each possesses a unique skill-tree encompassing both active abilities and passive buffs that include synergies with other party members.
Back to Back to the Futon – events pick up after the “Ruins of Limis” chapter and the party finds themselves in the Dungeon Fund’s dungeon – imprisoned for their shameless pilfering and the collateral damage from their actions. They’re offered their gear back and a chance at freedom – but only if they’re willing to team up with “Agent X” (who replaces your unlucky thief) on a mission to find several missing teams and discover why the titular dungeon is trapped in a temporal anomaly. One short teleport later and they find themselves in the distant past, during the initial construction of the dungeon. This kicks off a four-chapter arc that has you travelling through time, meeting significant figures responsible for designing the dreaded dungeon, and going up against the “cult of Dlul” – followers of the God of Sleep, after your beloved statue, and intent on plunging the world into an “Eternal Nap”.
Now four chapters may not sound like much but each chapter in Back to the Futon is easily 4+ hours of content if you explore thoroughly, follow the primary quest, tackle all side quests, and try to solve every riddle for the bonus loot and experience. As you would expect from the final expansion, there’s no shortage of powerful gear and your party can ascend to level 16, unlocking new tiers of active and passive abilities. It’s icing on top of an already complex layered cake and, if like me, you’ve not played it recently, it makes for an intimidating experience from the get-go. You immediately start with a full party of eight adventurers (you can, once again, pick the 8th member for some replayability) and most quests all include battles – often for the most ridiculous reasons – that’ll put you up against a dozen or more enemies – usually a deadly mix of brawlers, mages, archers, and summoners with the potential for reinforcements. The cultists of Dlul complicate matters further with their unique “sleep magic” that can easily knock out one of your party members for a round or provide their cultists with a powerful one-round heal.
As a result, you need a full understanding of your party’s roles, optimal positioning, and ability ranges – even on the default “Tavern Song” difficulty (i.e. normal). Every battle requires careful consideration each turn as you bolster your offensive heroes, defend your weaker support heroes, and target enemy mages and summoners as a priority. A frustrating number of fights ended swiftly with a flurry of overlapping area-of-effect abilities and spells that flattened half my party in a single round. If you don’t have a party to import, the experience is tougher still, and you’ll want to use the “Potions of Oblivion” to re-spec immediately and possibly reassign the default gear. That said, and as intimidating as it sounds, the challenge in Back to the Futon still felt appropriate for an end-game expansion and tactics remain more important than your party level and gear.
Unfortunately, the increased complexity and challenge provided by Back to the Futon was a constant reminder of how cumbersome The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk becomes on console towards the endgame. Yes, turn-based tactical games are still a better fit for a gamepad than real-time fare, but scrolling through increasingly long hotbars, cycling through dozens of targets, and squinting at small HUD elements can drag out each battle. Yes, these are slower-paced games in which careful consideration is an essential part of battle, but after turning up the combat animation speed – something I consider essential to preserve your sanity – I was constantly reminded that it took more time to input an action than it did to watch it play out. The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk desperately needs console keyboard & mouse support.
Wrapping up, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk – Back to the Futon is – especially given the low asking price, a sizeable expansion that fans should pick up in a heartbeat if they’re after more compelling story beats, more upgrades, more gear, and more tough tactical battles. The level of challenge is significant and it was tough to get back into a groove having not tackled the base game recently anyone using the “New Game” mode and a predefined party will struggle even more. The biggest issue on console remains the competent but inefficient gamepad support, which ensures already lengthy battles take even longer still.
A code for The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – Back to the Futon was provided to gameblur by the publisher.