Ah, the realm of fantasy games… A place where elves are frolicking happily through the forests and use intruders who dare to question their obvious distinct gender as arrow-pincushion, where magic is more or less the source of wonders and evil and where the undead wander around, raiding the lands with their armies and leave destruction in their wake.
What nice nostalgic…Wait.
They have huge rotting skeleton gigants?
We are having an undead apocalpyse in the medivial fantasy world?
What are you mages doing over there? Is that a summoning ritual? What? You are going to summon an ancient demon out of the depths of hell?
And there I dared to wonder just for a moment how an army of brainless undead could come that far. *sigh* When something is already burning and on the verge of annihilation…just summon a demon into our plane. What could go wrong? But to literal hell with logic. There are undead out there, you are the hero. Now grap that sword and start slaying. This is what you were paid for.
You are just another ordinary mercenary of a band of mercenarys, after all.
That is, until the summoning ritual went foul and the demon has to search for a body and you just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. (Like always)
Congratulations, you are now being possessed by an evil being trying to take over your body. (And no, there is no exorcist in sight)
Speaking of body, let’s start who you are, what you are and who you can become. Your name, or less the name you will be called by, is Vulcan, a newly recruited mercenary and a specialist in explosives (or what the lore says at least). Your ever standard hotheaded, cussing, rough soldier, mind you, and you will be a standard hotheaded, cussing, rough soldier, disregarding if you are female or male as the dialogs of him/her/it imply.
My first thought was, why not? Soldiers don’t have to be nice, they can cuss as long as they are good with the blade. Good by me. Very limited customization (five different heads and five different haircuts to chose from per gender choice). Alright, I will survive it.
You have experience with the greatsword and dual blades, being able to harness and hone those skills by level and points. Greatsword for balanced damage and defense stats, and later on for rechargeing your health while dual blades are fast, do a lot of damage but not really good for defense and are better for dodging attacks. Through the demon, you get another skill tree, named pyromancy which enables fire magic.
And only fire magic. While other people might find this annoying, as long as the story can justify it, I’m also fine with just fire magic. What’s better than setting moving corpses on fire? I always was a fan of the the flamethrowers in zombie games…*clears throat* Alright…on with the script.
The skill trees enable additional enhancements like being able to stab the enemy faster with the dual blades, the spells being less expensive or upgrade them into more powerful ones.
You can also build traps and place them around the areas, use a crossbow and make and combine other things from materials and ingrediants, like potions, bolts and so on. Additionally to the usual the skill tree, you can spend specific…titles with points from the level up like “tough” that ups your hit points when you “buy” it or alchemist which makes your potions are more useful or assassin which raises your critical with dual blades. To unlock these, you not only need point but also such things as kill/make a specific amount of things.
With those things you are ready to take on and slash your way through the hordes like a possessed…You get the idea, but the answer is yes…and no. The combat is action oriented, quick and you can switch between greatsword and dual blades and shoot magic, meaning you can try slashing your way through the monsters, but at most times this won’t work. They will kill you just as fast as you think this way of thinking will work in Dark Souls.
And no, it isn’t as hard as Dark Souls. You just have to plan what you are doing what isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can sneak around, place traps, etc. to thin the numbers which gives combat more depth, but it is by far not perfect. The camera can be annoying sometimes, on higher difficulties it is more apparent that the “action” isn’t as well rounded and balanced as one might think, but this is up for personal taste. The AI of companions is…let’s say as intelligent as those mages deciding to summon a demon into this world would be a great idea. They die quickly, but they try to stand their ground.
Graphics…Although I don’t really care about that point, I still want to mention that the Ps4 edition of the game looks like it belonged on Ps3 or below. Just that I mentioned that.
Which leaves the story.
Yes, we have heard the story of the heroic mercenary before, yes, the undead raiding isn’t something new either, yes, we are already used to magicians doing something stupid, summoning demons or mess things up. Even the possessed hero is nothing new. If people find this generic, yes, at some point even good fantasy RPGs are generic, but the exel on another point.
How the story is told, what role you have, how the world is represented around you. Are the people relatable? Do you feel represented by the hero and the decision that are made? How do the writers play with what we know about fantasy stereotypes? Does your decision influence anything? Is the atmosphere fitting?
In some games the surrounding tell you the story. In this game, story telling and build up of story is done by dialog. And…That is one of the greatest weaknesses of the game according to my opinion. And that is something I hadn’t had for a very long time. Yes, I came across dialog in games that are…pretty standard and uninteresting, but this is just…I don’t even know how to warp this up in words. It is standard, although it decides to be self-ironic sometimes or even sarcastic, but more often it is…stating the obivious or strangely over-the-top or being overall uninteresting to listen to. And this is fatal when you have to make decisions in an rpg that should have an impact on you in some way.
Maybe it is just me, but when you have such a story with potential and then having something like that…Well, it is up for the taste, I guess.
The story as a whole? Well, short moral of the story is that magic is mostly the source of evil. The Big Bads which leads the undead? Immortal Sorcerers (*coughs* liches) also called the Ice Lords (*cough* Frozen Throne). The thing that got you possessed? Magic.
The demon who wants to hijack your body even grants you one ability. MAGIC.
More power for more control over your own body and it shows, as you become more demonic in appearance which is a nice mechanic. It tries to be interesting, it tries to be grim and the morals are twisted, but sometimes it just tries to hard or not at all. For example the demonic possession stuff has a lot of potential but you are served with a or b decisions and you can use magic without consequences at all.
The atmosphere is pretty solid. Nice music here and there, the background, lighting, water effects are nice as well as the enemy designs….overall nothing bad.
To round it up a bit:
The combat system is quick and dynamic, nothing groundbreakingly good or bad. The crafting system is actually really nice, you can sneak, you can ambush and you can set traps everywhere. There are problems with the camera, It has some nice ideas, to say at least.
The story is…It could be so much more, but fails to deliever at the basics. There are so many possibilities open for a possessed character which are simply not used. It doesn’t need to be over-the-top complicated or dark to keep being interesting. Some games even deliever without dialog and let the atmosphere speak.
My opinion to the fact that the company is a smaller one and with that the budget? I don’t expect it to be Dragon Age, or a new Witcher or Skyrim. I really am at a point to not expect anything at all from a game. It tries; I won’t deny that. Combat is solid, setting is passable, but the dialog…When I see all the indie and kickstarter games out there which have a lower budget and deliever much more interesting things, I can’t say it is an excuse.
Was it worth the hunt? At the normal price? No. I get better meals to a cheaper price. When it gets a discount? Maybe… It is overall medicore. Not a steak, not a piece of tough leather, but if an rpg fails to keep my interest for the story or any , I have to let it go by.
Until the next hunt,