Dark Envoy review

by on October 30, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

October 24, 2023


Given Baldur’s Gate 3’s meteoric descent directly through the middle of 2023, anyone releasing a CRPG this year should be handed considerable props for having the solid-steel balls to even show up. Enter indie developer Event Horizon, whose Dark Envoy has been struggling to break out into the light of day since back in 2020. I previewed it earlier this year and was pretty impressed by some of its ideas, but how does it fare now it’s finally out-out?

Dark Envoy is a fantasy adventure Real Time with Pause tactical CRPG (yeah, say that ten times fast) set in the world of Jäan, where the technologically-advanced human Empire and the magic-centric non-human League have been at war for centuries. You play as siblings Malakai and Kaela, Relic Hunters who have grown up chasing their fortunes in the City of Bones. As the story opens you create both characters, able to change their faces and hairstyles (though there’s a distinct lack of bushy beards for Malakai) and select a class.

Initially there are four classes: Warrior, Ranger, Engineer and Adept, all of which can be specialised later down one of three paths, adding up to 12 classes altogether. The starting class you choose determines how you play the first third of the game, after which you’ll begin to conscript 6 other characters into your party (of which you can then choose two to accompany the siblings). The other characters, such as Sestia, have fixed classes and can’t be customised. Instead, you’ll need to take along characters whose skills compliment yours.

Dark Envoy

The upshot of this is that you’ll spend much more time with the siblings than the other characters, and will have more time to shape them, unlocking skills and passive abilities along decent-sized but not sprawling skill trees. I chose to play Malakai as a dual-wielding Warrior and Kaela as a rifle-toting Engineer, as you can also select their starting gear to determine your initial playstyle. Later you’ll uncover Relics that alter your weapons, or allow you to craft and modify more, which adds even more reason to explore the environment.

Combat is the meat and potatoes here, with a tactical pause providing the lovely gravy and the constant influx of enemies representing… the sprouts, I suppose. Combat is a constant element of Dark Envoy and, while some factors are cool (actively drawing the area of effect of certain spells and abilities is fun and fresh), it doesn’t take long to start feeling like a slog. Perhaps as a way of balancing out Malakai and Kaela’s innate overpowered-ness, Dark Envoy’s combat encounters will often spawn wave after wave of reinforcements that all have a tendency to just come straight at you.

AI is almost non-existent, and instead enemies will just assault you directly as you hit pause and queue up attacks, spells, and abilities. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed when you’re not freezing time, and as a result the real-time combat can feel messy and imprecise. Your characters also aren’t the smartest, and will stand inside area-of-effect markers or dally around in the open as enemies take ranged shots at them. You can adjust the AI to a certain extent but it’s hardly comprehensive.

Dark Envoy

I often found combat to be a bit of an uphill struggle, and not necessarily due to difficulty. The animations are kind of slow and clunky, with things like the Warrior’s whirlwind attack failing to react with the environments or enemies in a particularly effective way. In fact, a lot of the animations during combat look too floaty and lack impact, which is a shame as there’s so much of it.

Thankfully, it’s not all combat. Though there’s no Charisma stat to get you out of sticky situations, there are moral and narrative choices to make throughout as you cross paths with various NPCs. There’s nothing as intricate as you’d find in a game like Baldur’s Gate 3, but the option to talk around combat is welcome. Add to this that you’ll spend a lot of time exploring the environment for chests and secrets and Dark Envoy offers a well-rounded, if at times simple, experience.

I’m not a big fan of finite healing points on the map being the only reliable way of restoring your health, but it forces you to use the many teleporters dotted around the map and think about your actions in combat. On lower difficulties you’ll regain some health after combat ends, too.

Dark Envoy

Dark Envoy has a definite “janky” feel to a lot of it. From the slightly underwhelming combat to the inconsistent voice acting and writing (the magic versus science setting leads to some weirdly anachronistic dialogue at times), some of Dark Envoy struggles to impress. And yet, it’s also a very playable and enjoyable adventure.

Event Horizon has clearly put a lot of effort into their creation, developing a huge world with an interesting if mildly uninspired backstory, and characters who remain likeable if a little underdeveloped. If you’re hankering after a CRPG experience that feels a little less convoluted than many, you could do worse than check out Dark Envoy’s colourful fantasy world.


Draw abilities are cool
Decent cast of characters
Lots to explore


Combat can be a chore
Some technical hiccups
Story is a bit forgettable

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

If you want a CRPG experience that feels a little less complex than many, you could do worse than check out Dark Envoy’s colourful fantasy world.