Review: Daring Do Demo

Why review an older game that never reached completion? Bear with me for five minutes.

Don't get put off by the "demo" label - although it may not update again, Alexmakovsky's Daring Do: the Flash Game already has some serious meat to it. Daring Do's the perfect candidate for an adventure platformer, but for some reason she doesn't star in many games - making this one that much more unique. But can the game live up to it's promise? Find out after the break.

After being knocked out of the air by a legion of griffons, famed adventurer Daring Do plummets to the jungle floor in the vicinity of a mysterious temple. Due to her damaged wings (a cliched but serviceable plot device) the player will have to navigate without flying. Unfortunately, the jungle's infested with dart-shooting monkeys and Ahuizotl's cats.

The most quickly apparent feature of Daring Do: the Flash Game is its brilliant art and custom character animation. From the start menu, throughout the cutscenes, jungle floor and temple mazes, the game is visually dazzling. Although the scenery made less of an impression as the game became harder and I began to focus on survival, it remained consistently high-quality, attaining a standard that very few pony games can match.

Rather than exploring the temple level by level, the entire game is situated in a single open world. When the player gets a certain artifact or defeats a particular monster, a door on the other side of the map will open up. While this approach makes progressing in the game feel like an actual temple exploration, sometimes you're left having no idea where to go next. Several times, I thought I might have reached the end of the game, only to discover a new labyrinth off of a previously missed tunnel.

The artsy, open-world style of this game, and the discovery of several other ponies deep in the temple reminded me a little of Stroll, the meditative art game from a few months back. Like Stroll, the game is filled with secret passageways, most of which lead to treasure. However, Daring Do: the Flash Game also has a variety of enemy and puzzle types, some of which require a decent amount of skill to get past. The game never becomes too nerve-wracking (after death, Daring Do respawns close by) but a couple of rooms require good timing to survive.

Fun fact: Daring Do's pushing power is roughly equal to that of a parasprite. 
Also, those stone blocks must weigh next to nothing.

The interior of the temple includes the whole roster of classic traps: passageways are crammed with spikes, rotating blades, disappearing floors, massive spike-covered steel balls, giant spiders, chains, vines, and ominously encroaching thorns. Glyphs and inscriptions on the walls complete the experience. I hesitate to call Daring Do: the Flash Game an art game, but it's crafted ambiance gives a similar experience.

Overall, any demo which I can sink two hours into without completely finishing needs to be called something else. Perhaps "super-demo", or just "game". I'd certainly welcome an achievement list, a walkthrough, or another way to keep track of my progress in game and make the world a little less overwhelming, but that's one of my few qualms. Daring Do: the Flash Game easily deserves a Spitfire Grade.

- Arctic Lux

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