Hunted: The Demon's Forge Review
Written : Tuesday, June 14, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams
With Skyrim looming large upon the horizon how does a company like Bethesda keep busy? By releasing a hack and slash dungeon crawler like Hunted of course. This is more of an RPG-lite than a full blown swords and sorcery style odyssey, so leave your stat book at the door and saddle up for some carnage. Oh, and you can bring a friend, because having to beat skeletons up on your own is just sad.
Right from the get-go it is clear that more than a few clichés have made there merry way into this game, with the stereotypical muscle bound hero and his hot Elven companion taking centre stage. Quite how thigh high boots and a skimpy thong/bra combo are adequate protection against hordes of foes is anyone’s guess, but who am I to argue with fantasy convention. At least the banter between our two heroes is quite refreshing and unique, and it genuinely makes them interesting to tag along with. Though despite having two fun characters to get to know, the story and gameplay fail to keep up.
Explosive barrels – blowing shit up since the 80’s.
Two mercenaries searching for a mysterious artefact has been done before - and probably to better effect than it has here - but the real issue is that after the first couple of chapters you will have seen pretty much everything the game has to offer and the rest just becomes a variation on the same theme. Starting out the whole thing is pretty fun, with the bow wielding E’lara providing the ranged support while Caddoc gets up close and personal. Each of the characters can also learn a variety of moves and spells to bring the pain in new and exciting ways. Using flaming arrows to set enemies on fire never gets old, and flinging them in the air with Caddoc or using his dash skill to shatter shields is equally as fun. However, once you’ve seen the same attacks over and over again, then it starts to get a little stale – and with the number of generic enemies being thrown at you, trust us when we say that it won’t take long to reach that point.
Along the way you can spar with a number of meaty bosses which help to shake up proceedings but it has to be said that the A.I. leaves a lot to be desired. Assuming you go it alone then you can expect your partner to do a lot of random circles as it seemingly struggles to select a target. They are also practically useless when it comes to using magic at the right time or covering your back. This might explain why the game is being touted as a co-op title, as having a second human to watch your back certainly improves things immensely.
Make them bleed! Oh wait…..
In fact the co-op elements of the game lead to most of the best moments, as long as you are playing online that is, as the splitscreen mode is frankly more trouble than it is worth. There are a number of puzzles - mainly of the ridiculously simple variety - along your route as well as the obvious fight over treasure. The problem is that, even with a co-op partner, that same sense of repetition will start to creep over you and the game's faults become ever more apparent. As you enter an area you get bombarded by foes, take them out and you will stumble across some loot or a puzzle then repeat until you hit the level boss. The same pattern is just continuous and predictable.
For a start the game looks decidedly rough around the edges and some of the animations are strangely poor, especially on the enemies. Textures randomly glitch in and out of existence and trying to perform a finishing move seems to suddenly take you out of the action for a few seconds while enemies try to fruitlessly bash away at you. Thrown in the poorly implemented cover system, stupid A.I. and dull, drab levels and things are decidedly desperate. The real issue is the startling lack of variety and polish this game seems to have received, and while you can happily spend a few hours overlooking the downsides it soon gets to the point when playing becomes a bit of a chore.
Just a regular Saturday night.
Assuming you make it through the single player then you can try your hand at creating your own quests via the Crucible mode, but even this leaves you wanting for more. The main problem is that you need to amass quite a bit of gold in order to have all of the creation options unlocked, meaning you will have to play countless other dungeons before you can even think about making a good one of your own. This is not such a bad thing but the lists seem to limited to a hundred players each, meaning that you cannot even browse the full selection of created levels available. It’s a shame really as playing on user-created levels seems to offer more variety and challenge than the actual game.
Even the achievements do not encourage you to stray too far from the beaten path, as you can pretty much snag everything in one run through the game. Then you can load up specific chapters in order to snag the few character specific tasks you may well have missed. You may well have a bit of a headache finding all of the collectibles on offer, plus grinding up enough gold to make all of the Crucible assets available can be a challenge in itself. But if you are prepared to put in the necessary time and effort this should be a fairly standard completion, which is handy really as once you’ve finished the game there is really no impetus to go back and play it again.
On the face of it, this is a game struggling to find its own identity. The developers have taken a number of fantasy staples and then thrown them in a mixing pot with Diablo style dungeon quests and loot, plus Gears style co-op play and cover mechanics. The overwhelming result is one of confusion, and the few good ideas and enjoyable moments tend to be buried under everything else. The characters certainly deserve more than they got in this game, and seeing more of them would certainly not be unwelcome but they would have to iron out a considerable number of issues and make the whole thing more, well, interesting.
Amusing, if clichéd, voice acting helps to beef things up a bit and the score does a good job when it is called upon.
Decidedly poor in places and some of the glitches and the lack of polish is pretty much unforgivable. A real surprise.
Fun for the first few hours, especially with a partner, but the novelty soon wears off as you perform the same few tasks and combat motions over and over.
A mish mash of game styles that have not coherently mixed together, plus an interesting but misjudged level editor. This could have been so much more.
A bog standard list and one that shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge for most players. Well, except for the pile of stuff to collect.
This game is a mash-up of a few successful ideas but as a finished product it never quite adds up to the sum of its parts. You may well find it fun to blast through in co-op, but don’t expect it to leave you with any lasting memories.