Game review-Hunted: The Demon’s Forge

This game came out about a month ago now, and only in the past week have I got around to playing it. Overall, the result’s disappointing. Is Hunted: The Demon’s Forge a bad game? No, but it’s not an overly good one.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is a co-op fantasy game in which you take on the roles of two Mercenaries, a cautious Melee fighter who relies on his strength, Caddoc, and a ready for anything Archer, E’lara. I just want to point out an initial issue with the game right here…an archer who has a ready for anything attitude and prefers charging in to holding back…and a cautious melee fighter that prefers flanking to charging in. If you’re new to gaming, and decide to listen to these two idiots you’re done for! The point of a melee fighter is to get close to enemies and knock them senseless, while the archers offer support in the distance! If you swap these roles around, an archer doesn’t have weaponry ideal to save themselves from a situation where they’re surrounded by melee fighters and, if a melee fighter holds back in a fight, there’s nothing they can do anyway!

Granted, E’lara does have a sword and shield like Caddoc, and Caddoc has a crossbow but these weapons are very weak. Why? The developers themselves said that the intention for these two is to take different approaches to battle from each other, so E’lara is intentionally designed so that she should be held back to fire her bow, and Caddoc designed to charge in and massacre, but the characters themselves tell the player to do otherwise! Obviously though, after the horrible run-ins players will experience with enemies having listened to these two characters, players will have to realise that they need to switch up there roles. Well, here’s another issue with Hunted. It’s very difficult. And not because of any innovative features that you have to get used, nope, it’s just because everything hits hard and it’s not easy to avoid or block these attack, especially for the archer (which is WHY she should hold back).

So due to how players will initially be approaching the game, met with the difficulty being the way it is, they’ll die pretty quickly and won’t even realise they’re doing something wrong yet. On that note, even experienced gamers may have a difficult time adjusting to Hunted’s difficulty. I myself had to switch to the easiest possible setting, and still found myself struggling here and there. So, to re-cap, don’t listen to your characters, they’re dumb asses. And while an experienced gamer would know that, as I said, someone new to gaming wouldn’t. Surely the developers would have known that themselves? Well, in multiple interviews the developers made it clear that this was going to be a game made for experienced gamers. I personally think this is pretty irresponsible, because they don’t even hint at this on the games cover, so new gamers are going to be buying this game just so that they’ll die a lot!

Anyway, let’s have a look at the story. It opens with Caddoc dreaming. He’s in a dark dungeon (FOREFUCKINGSHADOWING) in which he is being spoken to by an unknown female voice. He gets attacked by a Demon, and wakes up. And then goes back to sleep.
When he and his companion, E’lara, wake up the following morning we find out they’re on a job to get some Manna water for a sorcerer, from a certain location. On the path, they find a mysterious stone that apparently was in Caddoc’s dream as well. I didn’t see it, but oh well. Getting close to the stone, they are approached by the Seraphine, a seductive sorceress who wants Caddoc to touch the stone. They do, and all hell breaks loose, spawning animated, aggressive Skeletons and the Demon from Caddoc’s dream. They escape and are told by the sorceress that she is the daughter of the rich Lord Mayor of the Town Dyfed, and that he is in need of help. Do they believe this woman that almost got them killed? Of course-and the adventure begins!

At first, you think the story is going to be pretty engaging and quite interesting. It’s well told and doesn’t give much away. But towards the end of the games fourth chapter (there are six) it seems to lose it all. All of the mystery seems to drop, giving it all away at once at a point that just doesn’t seem appropriate, and the game ends leaving some things untouched all together and without answers. And, I don’t mean things that bait it for a sequel, I mean things that obviously come across as things that you know were originally going to put in the game, and were just blanked all together.

Yeah, towards the end the whole thing feels very rushed. You can easily believe that the developers just wanted to give up on the game. And the ending depends on certain actions you took during the game. While one is really worth the extra effort you’ll have to put in to get there, the other one just leaves the game at a really anticlimactic and forgettable point. This is problematic because, as I said a lot more effort will be required to get the good ending than the bland one, and I can guarantee 90% of the people who played this game did the things that result with the bland ending. And, it’s a reasonably long game. If you go all the way through it just for the ending you get, you’ll feel ripped off.

Now the characters, Caddoc and E’lara, I do like. The conversations they have are believable, their relationship is both playful and social which is spot-on for a co-op game like this, and their personalities, are by no means original but still very likable. The only other considerable character is the Seraphine. I hate this girl. She’s a seductress sorceress who uses her…powers…to get Caddoc and, therefore E’lara, to do her bidding through the game. You should be familiar with the little joke of how girls in fantasy games are helplessly sexy, made that way for the male players. I HOPE that the Seraphine is a parody of that because, well yeah you saw the image. But to me she isn’t even attractive. I find it funny how awkward her movements are when she shows up, just because of how unbelievably ‘large’ she is. She makes E’lara seem like the lesser of two evils, and she in herself could be considered worse, just because of her outfit.

So while we’re commenting on appearances, here’s how the game appeals to the senses. As for music, the game has a pretty good soundtrack, if a limited one. But what’s there certainly is good and when used works well with it’s coupled events in the game. Visually, Hunted’s graphics aren’t bad, they’re average only skirting off occasionally to a point where the graphics are distractingly bad. But, its contrast with darkness and light is horrible. At the beginning of the game you’re in dark uninteresting environments and…sometimes-no-no, a LOT of the time you’re in complete darkness, which is unbearably frustrating. Mostly in dungeons where you need to see where you are to start to learn a path so you can get out of there quickly, or just get to know your way around the place. And then ‘ARGH! FUCK IT’S SO BRIGHT! IS, IS THAT THE SUN?! WHERE DID YOU GO?!’ You’re in a bright colourful jungle. You’ll adjust to it quickly, but those initial few moments of darkness or brightness will piss you off.

The main antagonists you’ll be facing against are Orks-I mean DarkSpawn-I mean Wargar…yeah they’re just Orks. As well as a few more interesting baddies along the way that, credit to the game are interesting and fun to fight. The designs for them, weaponry and areas in this game are, well average and not too original. Even the combat can be pretty uninteresting with just the swinging of your weapon or firing of your bow. And I suppose this does work to the games advantage by giving it a more traditional fantasy feel, but it just feels like I’ve been there before. The special abilities you can get, are pretty fun though. One attack I like in particular is where Caddoc raises a field that levitates and immobilises any enemies caught in it, making them easy targets for E’lara.

On that note, let’s talk about the gameplay. Hunted sold itself on the fact that it’s a Co-op game. This works pretty well, and the game itself creates a unique and fun co-operative experience in which both players are valued quite evenly. They will have to combine their skills to solve fun dungeon crawling puzzles and, entertaining combat (PROVIDING YOU DON’T TAKE ADVISE FROM THE CHARACTER YOU’RE PLAYING AS!) But, one major issue a LOT of people had with this game is the way the Prologue was set up. I had this issue to. As I said, sold itself on being a co-op experience made for experienced gamers. So, a lot of people found a co-op buddy for this game in advance that they’d play with. On the main menu there are the options to start the game, or do split-screen or start a local game in which you find another player online. I’m not sure if this issue applies for non split-screen co-op, but if you click the split-screen option like I did, you don’t get the prologue. So, you don’t get taught the controls, features or abilities players have, and miss out on some upgrade opportunities. Being tossed into this particular game without knowing what you’re doing is an execution due to its difficulty. So, why is it set-up like this? Because the prologue can’t be done co-operatively and you have to do it alone. That’s a pretty poor decision if you ask me, and overall it’s badly set-up.

And one more thing I’d like to point out is the revival system. This game shamelessly tries to be like the Gears of War franchise-and that’s the truth, the developers constantly claimed it was going to be the fantasy game for Gears of War fans. This only really applies for E’lara, but one thing bugs me ‘going down’. If you take too much damage, you’ll go down and your friend needs to pick you up before you die. It’s not as simple as just going up to your partner and clicking a button, like with Gears of War, in this you’ll need a resurrection vial. These things are awful. As well as only being able to have a few at a time, if you run out, they’re not exactly easy to find. I was really pissed off when my partner went down and Caddoc said ‘Let me find some vials’. And there isn’t much time to revive your partner either, so even if you knew where there was a vial around, I think you have about 15 seconds to save your friend. I don’t see why they wanted to unnecessarily complicate such a system, considering the developers wanted to attract the Gears crowd. In the Gears of War games, it’s much more simply and a system that’s easily overlooked. So making it more complicated did them no favors.

But once you get past all of Hunted’s kicks and issues, I have to stress that Hunted’s gameplay really is fun, providing you know the right approaches to take yourself, enforcing a really entertaining co-op experience with fun gameplay, that’s not like much you will have experienced before. If I hadn’t played this game with a co-op partner, I know it wouldn’t have been near as fun. So if you have a certain co-op partner that you play with a lot, and really want to play a game with them, take the advice given through this review, and play the game with them because with a friend, Hunted can be fun.

Overall, I’d give the game a 5 out of 10. Potentially disappointing story that either way feels rushed towards the end, but it’s still fun to play through even if it had a lot of initial issues.