I didn’t really know what to expect with Diamond Dan. For whatever reason, this game always caught my eye whenever it became discounted during the big steam sales. So I finally picked it up. Lo and behold, the game isn’t terrible. It’s not even half bad. It may be one of the uglier ducklings of the bunch, but underneath a lacking appearance is a surprisingly entertaining puzzle-lite platformer.
Each level is comprised of a cubic tower, itself filled with constantly shifting cubes that you must traverse to reach the bottom. You have the option of two playable characters, the first being able to move nearby blocks, whilst the other can outright destroy them at the expense of losing the ability to double-jump. While the beginning levels contain little challenge, further levels become longer, and introduce new types of traps that become increasingly difficult to avoid, both due to your own incompetence and slow transitioning speed of the screen while you transfer between the different sides of each tower.
The platforming itself is tight, and it’s satisfying leaping between booby trapped walls and floors. There is no time limit to each level, and your performance in each is based on how many jewels and coins you can collect, all of which add to your end score. Activating and narrowly escaping traps goes towards earning a score multiplier, though aside from leaderboard and achievement junkies, there’s no real incentive to pursue higher scores beyond personal gratification. However, there are higher difficulties, and beating each earns you a shinier medal, so that provides some longevity for those who enjoy a challenge.
I’ve actually enjoyed what I’ve played of DD. Visually, it can be pretty unappealing, especially the character models, though the in-game aesthetic looks alright, if a bit dated. One thing I am fond of is the menu; it’s all set up at a desk, with each option being one of a series of items lying on it. Your view follows your cursor, so it’s almost like you’re actually sitting at the desk, and it’s neat to see things added to it after you complete each level. It’s a nice touch, and it adds a bit of charm to the experience.
Diamond Dan is surprisingly alright, given its budget price and lack of fanfare. It may be lacking visually, but the gameplay is tight and even challenging in later levels and on higher difficulties. It’s not terribly long, and can likely be beaten in several short hours, either on a lazy afternoon, or as a break between larger adventures. I wouldn’t call it a diamond in the rough, but after a few strokes from a shirt sleeve, even this jewel shows off a modest gleam.