REVIEW: Dinora

A million years ago, in a land very unlike the one I currently reside in, I had a wife. Children. A modest house, a valued trade. I was making a living. I was living, well, sort of. The truth was a barely-passable life on a rock I’d chose to call home for no other reason than it had plenty of trees to chop down when I first arrived. Between that first chop and my final breath in the land of Dinora (80 MSP), I was witness to a great many things, several highs and lows, the laughs and frustrations. I know my life, as I refer to that digital existence, the temporary abandonment of my mortal coil, was not in vain. I was, at varying times, a miner, blacksmith, wizard, fairy, knight, a shepherd, farmer, alien hunter, a rescuer, a doctor—  such are the possibilities (and then some) present in the game.

Even so, it is plainly obvious that Dinora is a $1 Terraria. One look at the visuals, which, while simple, have an understated charm to them, and you’ll reach the same conclusion. Playing it, a 2D crafter that sees you from such humble wood-chopping beginnings all the way up to the ruler-God of a great city, if you so choose, will be immediately familiar to those that have played Terraria. There is no getting around it. Both games, with the exception of some interface upgrades / downgrades and options, play the same. The opening is the same, battles are the same, mundane tasks are the same, everything is saaaammmme. For the sake of keeping the review manageable, I’ll skip some of the finer details of the setup, as if you’ve played Terraria or have an interest in it, you’ll know the routine. Basically, the world of Dinora is yours to mold and craft as you wish, with plenty of optional quests and events if your own creativity starts to stall.

The original angle that Dinora takes is in its ‘relationships’, your interactions with the various NPCs across the land. After building a Bar (alcohol is the genesis of human interaction, of course) and several furnished homes / rooms, you can befriend and enlist the services of the men and women you meet, setting them up in various professions and teaching them skills, which will pay dividends to you once they start producing goods. You can also find (and woo) a husband or wife, and start a family of your own (they’ll even be dependent on you for food / shelter), watching them take on your features and age accordingly. There’s several options in how you can converse, and each denizen in Dinora has changing moods / needs that you must pay attention to if you want to foster a relationship. It’s surprisingly well-done, and stacks even more hours on top of the hours you’ll spend building / tearing down / fighting / casting spells / leveling up, etc.

Dinora - Screen

Building scenes like this requires a massive amount of time, resources, and dedication.

There’s some nitpicks here and there. Despite some well-handled tutorials and reminders, building / crafting can be a pain to figure out, and the controller can’t match a keyboard & mouse setup. Inventory can be tough to manage, and most enemies are too strong for your initially weak character, though all of these things should be expected in a game where you can literally be doing a dozen different things at any given time. And as a crafter, you should know that the game will be lengthy, though it bears repeating: Dinora is NOT pick-up-and-play, it is a MAJOR time-sink. Expect to put in several hours before you’re anywhere near a stable existence, and triple that time if you want to see some of the more fun aspects of the game, or reach its ‘Darkness is coming’ endgame.

Dinora may be a carbon-copy of Terraria in most ways, though it’s hard to argue its worth when you can get every bit of enjoyment out of it as you would playing the original. All of that game’s tally, and even a little more here, due to the relationships you can forge, essentially unlimited playtime, for 80 MSP. How you choose to live your life on Dinora is entirely up to you, and the game provides an excellent template from which to draw ideas. Original or not, quirks and nagging issues considered, a game with this amount of choice and variety can’t be ignored or dismissed.


Review on Indie Gamer Chick

36 thoughts on “REVIEW: Dinora”

    1. Thank you for that. 🙂 Looks like a lot of small (but irritating) fixes and some solid ‘early game’ tweaks. Should help anyone just starting out adjust to the game style a little easier.

  1. I promised you I would let you know what I thought of this being that I never played Terraria or Mindcraft. Well I must say this game is a lot of fun. I have put in over 10 hours and this is one of those games that is going to take 100 or more before I get full enjoyment. Actually like the 2d aspect better then the minecraft 3d clones I played. It gives it a much different feel….old school in a way. Thanks again Tim for the code and this is now in my top 20 of Indie games I own!

    1. ‘Mindcraft’ sounds downright 1984-ish / Orwellian! I want that game!

      Thanks for the update. I’m always curious to see / hear how others play and view the same material. Dinora’s a massive crafter that’ll take dozens of hours to see everything, like you said, so it’s especially interesting when the experience can be drastically different for each person that plays. I honestly wish I had the free time to play more of these games, similarities and all.

    1. Work has kept me pretty busy this week, so I was waiting for an article to hit on all the major points and be easily-digestible. Two big things I’ve heard are that Used Games, and lending them to your friend(s), is basically over. Which, really, Microsoft is shooting itself in the foot with that, but hey, that’s why they’re a multi-billion dollar company, and I’m not.

      Two, which -seems- more promising, is that they might be doing away with the XBLA (and therefore, XBLIG) nametag and putting all games under a single umbrella, recommending them to people regardless of it being indie or AAA titles.

      Both of these come after limited reading, admittedly, so if there’s some huge disasterpiece I haven’t seen, then I could be setting myself up for some really bad news. Break it to me gently, I’m in a fragile state… 😦

  2. Hey I also wanted to share the developers site with everyone (if Tim don’t mind) There is a forum there if anyone has any suggestions for the them and/or any bugs you may run into.

    1. OK….between my ADD and expectations of adulthood I could never get done with this game that fast. I have at least 2 hours into game and I’m still tinkering with things and figuring them out. I have one crude little shed for protection built high up so that it takes a ladder to reach so the the ground meanies can’t touch me and I can tinker all through the night times with minimal interruptions. (Damn those flying meanies)

    2. My home is only two levels high, but I went larger with the length, so I could branch off and wall off into different rooms / facilities. Was just about to ‘rent’ a portion of the place out when I quit to write up the review. Time-consuming stuff, being a landlord. 🙂

    1. It’s lost forever, I’m afraid. I think it’s in those green husks that you find in White Noise Online. Surprising amount of search hits on this site with people wondering what they are. Mystery solved; it houses the souls of indie game critics.

    1. You know, I almost hate recommending games like this when they’re so similar to another (though I already sold my soul when I recommended the White Noise = Slender games), but at 80 MSP, the risk really is minimal. It’s easy enough to spend the time in-game, too, so value shouldn’t be a problem.

      As for splitscreen, I’m not sure if that would be included as well in a future update, but the Dev is talking of possibly adding an online option (or so I read, no confirmation) if the sales warrant it. In the meantime, Terraria would be the best / only option for multiplayer.

    2. Online gaming doesn’t interest me at all, in fact it’s done more harm to local gaming than good so quite the opposite of being interested in it.

      Will chuck 80pts at this game though, if the kids enjoy it I’ll stump up the cash for terraria.

    3. I think gamers like you and I are to few and far between. I never play online and love single player games where I direct the story that is taking place in front of me.

    4. Hey, count me among your number; I’m increasingly playing alone these days (only so many racial epithets, nine-year-olds yelling into their mics, and asshats blaring music through their headset that one can take). Outside of playing with family or close friends, there’s no need for it, especially with competitive games. I do like the option, though, for comparing scores / stats, or if the game is better in co-op. I am all about story, too, which either takes a backseat or feels diminished when playing with someone else. Long live the loner!

    5. There is a fine line between a game’s worth at a premium price and a game’s worth at a value price, isn’t there? Ultimately I think we’d all agree that the price shouldn’t compute into the “fun” one has with a game … but it does. That’s why we buy used games, right?
      I find Dinora to be very playable, albeit slow-developing and complex (but I think that is just the nature of the gameplay and not an intentional or lazy development); in the end I think the amount of time one can spend on it leaves Dinora as excellent value. I do hope the creator updates the game regularly, as it clearly has the potential to be a XBLIG smash hit.

    6. ‘I find Dinora to be very playable, albeit slow-developing and complex…’ —-Exactly. Daunting to start, but it slowly reveals itself the more you play / craft. And of course, fun has to take priority. With a game like this, if you can’t -make- your own fun, you’re doing it wrong. 🙂

      It should do well for an XBLIG, both for the Minecraftian nature of it and the ‘$1 Terraria’ tag that it’s sure to get stuck with.

  3. Well now you know where I will be for the next couple of days. LOL I’ll let you know how I feel about it being a non Minecraft/Terraria playing person. Although I did play and enjoy a few of the minecraft indie clones. I never was one much for having to have the name brand. 😛

    1. Yeah, I’d definitely be interested in your take on it. Personally, I love these types of games, but due to a perpetual lack of time, I get frustrated at the sheer size of and dedication to the game you need to have. XenoMiner was the same way. That’s why Minecraft came out too late for me to enjoy it. Damn adulthood and responsibilities, always fucking me over. 🙂

    2. Minecraft is more than just a name brand. When it was first released on XBLA you were probably better off playing Total Miner for 80msp, but it has evolved much closer to it’s pc counterpart and pretty much plays out like a survival horror dungeon crawler.

    3. True. Games like this are never ‘finished’, they just release in different iterations, refining the process a little more each update. Dinora is no exception. Somewhere, people far smarter and better than I are compiling a list of things to ‘fix’ in the first patch, playing the game in different ways and settings to see what works and what doesn’t. Just as Minecraft evolved, so too will Dinora.

    1. I would love to have a copy of this. The trial wasn’t long enough for me to get a feel for it. I have never played Terraria and this does look really fun.

    2. This is one game where the trial can barely scratch the surface. You need hours just to build a house and craft a weapon / armor set. 🙂 Code is sent. Enjoy.

    3. I was going to see if you were giving away a code for this game, but I lose. I won a code for Avatar Trials though lol. Any zombie games nobody wants to deal with I will. I actually did a google search for free xbla promo codes and ended up getting Drizzle the other day for free on a year old post! Not a bad game actually.

    4. First thing I did after reading your comment?

      Googled Free XBLA Promo Codes!

      Like they say…if it’s free it’s for me!!!

    5. Never hurts to look. 🙂

      The middle of next month is the ‘official’ start of the site (even though May 26th was the first ‘post’), so I’m likely going to post an article marking the occasion of one year online, get a little sappy, etc. I know I have a stockpile of codes for games that were never claimed, so between now and then, I’ve got to search through old emails and drag them all out. Not sure which ones will still be active / good, though it’ll be one giant giveaway spree. Not sure if there’s any zombie games in the bunch, but free is free, right?

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