I start up the game, and find that after creating your character, you have the option to play on easy, normal, hard or hardcore (I didn't see any option to change the difficulty once you select it, so be sure you've picked what you wanted correctly or else you'll have to create a new character or delete that one and start over). After this, you can either play the tutorial or skip it. Even though I don't read manuals, I decided to play the tutorial since I didn't know what the game was going to be like so I'd at least have some idea before jumping right in. The tutorial is reasonable short, however giving you all of the basic info needed to play the game, so off I went.
I try not to compare games to one another, but it's kind of hard not to do, so let me get this out of the way. I was able to pretty much jump right in to the game because it's a lot like the Diablo series. That being said, for 100 megs and the price, it's got some pretty good advantages over Diablo. I will say that there are a few things I'd like to see improved in the game, however all in all, I've not come across something this good in a long time. It's not quite a polished as say Diablo 3, however, it's probably not even a third of what that will probably cost, and as far as game play goes, it's well worth it. I actually think with the success of the Diablo series, this is actually a good comparison for Kivi's Underworld.
(due to a minor glitch, this section was missing - please be patient as I have to re-write it all, sorry for the inconvenience.)
The interface is pretty straight forward in the game. You basically use the mouse and if you want to use keyboard shortcuts, it's pretty much the 1,2 and 3 keys, and map key. I think I pretty much just used those 4 keys for the majority of the game. There are other keys that do things, however unless you want to turn the minimap off, which I don't think you'll need to do, those 4 are plenty. You use the basic 1,2 and 3 keys for your equipped items. There are all kinds for you to use, defensive items, offensive items, health and mana regen items, etc. You find that you hang on to some items for when you really really need them, and then others you'll decide not to pick up at all, or sometimes you'll pause to try to figure out with the creatures you're fighting, or likely to fight what might come in the handiest. You'll find that you'll always try to make room for a regeneration or life steal power up, and unless you're heavy into a magic user (or using your secondary attack a lot) you'll tend to be less likely to use the mana steal ones. Stone skin comes in handy when fighting a lot of creatures, as does critical strike, but tend to be lost when you find things like holy shield, ice glacier (I think that's the one that gives you a big frost sword) etc. I filled by empties with things like ice blast and fire shield mostly if I didn't have my life givers handy. You'll find yourself wishing that you could do something to upgrade to more than 3 slots over and over. Bedlam is always fun as it turns monsters against each other, and web is good for large rooms with lots of bad guys in it as it sticks everyone where they are.
You have your normal health and mana bars which is a good indication of when you're out of mana or about to die, nothing special, however it might be a nice touch to add gradient coloring to make it a little easier to identify that hey, you need health or you're gonna die. When you get lower health, you hear a heartbeat sound, which I must say is nice as I've found myself ignoring the display and only realized that I was going to die when I heard that.
The game has quite a bit of depth in it. It has 30 levels in it, and each with it's own quests, some super secrets (hey, I've only found 5 so far in one play though the game so yeah, they're hard to find.) There are 20 other different characters to either find or unlock as well. Some I found pretty fun to play like the blademaster and the enchanter who can make her own powerups, some that didn't seem like they would be fun to play like the merchant who had swipe, where you could hit more than 1 monster, the thief (stealth and avoid traps which to me weren't quite as useful), etc. Some characters like the apothecary, have some cool talents like the potion throw is actually a pretty good weapon. I was able to throw a potion into a monster trap, and then run into it and kill most of the monsters quickly, getting many killing sprees. The more points you get for each level, they better your score at the end, and the better your score, you're awarded a trophy. A bronze earns you 1 skill point, silver 2 and gold 3. Each permanent skill up cost increasingly more (1, then 2, then 3, etc), so the better you do in a level, the more points you get, the more skill points you get in the end. You can address these in a number of different things, like increasing your active skill, your passive skill, increasing your health or mana or increasing your offense or defense. Some of these really help later on when more hitpoints or mana comes in handy, or you want to increase your hitting power or not get hit so hard. Depending on which characters you like, and how you decide to play will decide how you want to spend the points. I spent them pretty evenly, with slightly less going in mana (1 less) and more in health (1 more). The rest are the same for me.
To help increase your score in each level, monsters drop various things like coins (gold, silver and bronze) gems, as well as temporary power ups like points you can add to your permanent skill points, as well as things like armor and weapon increases (not sure how those play in however). You pickup magic essences, as well as find secrets and kill monsters for higher points. Each level you get 3 lives, so if you die, you can rez and continue on. If you die 3 times, you'll have to start the level over.
Some hints (hey, don't want to give everything away but)... Kill the ranged guys first. The guys like bowmen and fire throwers seem to do enough damage that it's important to kill them first. Also, next on the list is anything that's a champion. These suckers have a lot more hit points than normal guys and I think do more damage, so it's best to clear these guys fast. Use powerups to get rid of them if you are trying to kill more than one. Next, there's things you can do to get bonus points. I'm sure I haven't found all of them (not nearly) but you can get things like marauder bonus, for destroying 5 items like crates, lights, jars, etc quickly. Same goes for monsters. You kill so many, you get a bonus killing spree. If you almost die but live you'll get a close call bonus as well. These all add up towards the end result, points to get that better trophy and more skill up points. I've learned also that sometimes traps can work towards your advantage. Set off a fire trap when surrounded and you take a little damage, but so does all of the other monsters. An easy way to rid yourself of some trouble if you you're in need of some quick help and won't die yourself.
You'll get awards and access to the bestiary when you kill certain monsters. You'll get awards for things like not dying in a level, finding all of the characters, finding 10 secrets, finding gems, killing 1000 monsters, etc. There's 18 awards in all. There's also 18 super secrets you can earn by finding them (I'm not going to say more to ruin anything). There's also 22 monsters in the bestiary that you can find more info on. Both the awards and the bestiary show you how many you've found or killed when you click on them for more information. After playing all the way though, I ended up with all the characters, about 10 awards, and 5 super secrets. I guess I'll go back and play more to try to unlock more of the awards and super secrets.
All in all, for a super small game, at a bargin price, this is a gem.
Find out more, buy the game or download the demo here: