Published on April 13th, 2010 | by prime0
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge – Preview
The reaction we’re getting from most people today is, “why hasn’t anything been done like this before?”, says Matthew Findley, President of InXile Entertainment and industry veteran, before bursting into a fit of laughter at our suggestion that ‘Orcs of War’ would have perhaps been a more fitting name for his latest dungeon crawler. “[Gears of War] was part of our inspiration”, says partner Michael Kaufman“. Definitely part of our goal is to appeal to the modern action gamer and show them that there’s this fantasy world that those games can work in”. And from what we’ve seen so far of Haunted, it’s fairly evident that he’s right.
Hunted fuses the production values, pacing and excitement of the modern action game with the familiar, yet presumed lost feel of a dungeon crawler
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is a third-person, cover-based-co-op fantasy game, then (think Gears of War with a Lord of the Rings-esque makeover), that sees two treasure hunters – the scantily-clad, leather-donning female huntress Elara and male Kratos-alike partner Caddoc – set off on a quest to the town of Dyfed in order to make their next quick buck. What they weren’t prepared for, of course, was the presence of the ghoulish Wargars, a monstrous force of ghastly goblin-like monsters, ransacking the village and – quite literally – stealing the hearts of the townsfolk.
And thus the backdrop for Hunted is set, as the two head deeper into the dungeons and surrounding areas of the town to meet with the mysterious spirit Seraphine who attempts to guide them towards defeating their new-found foe. They’re already well-equipped for the task at hand, of course. Elara’s a dab hand at the bow and arrow, picking off enemies from afar with a delightful sense of head-popping satisfaction, while Caddoc is more of a melee man, using his sword and other weaponry to tear enemies to shreds in gruesome hand-to-hand battles.
A variety of magic is available to our warriors, with each able to combine their abilities mid-fight to take down their enemy more effectively. Elara, for example, can combine ice magic with her arrows to freeze enemies, making them easy prey for Caddoc. Maps have also been designed to encourage the players so split up, but stays within eyesight of each other – an element InXile refer to as ‘ranged co-op’. it allows the player to capitalize on each character’s strengths, with a variety of elevated path in place for Elara to pick off enemies from above, while Caddoc deals with any remaining on the ground below.
The focus with Hunted really is on working together co-operatively, far more than the majority of other ‘co-op’ shooters, which effectively boil down to having two guns instead of one. And as you progress you’ll be treated to more ways to team up. We’re shown two new skills that can be bought from Seraphine: Levitation and Hellfire. The former does what you’d expect, propelling enemies and any surrounding debris helplessly into the air, with Hellfire offering a powerful fire bomb to set your foes alight. It’s a combination of the rewarding elements with the gung-ho nature of your typical third-person shooter.
But while the Gears of War comparison is perfectly valid, InXile isn’t simply intent on ripping it off like-for-like. Instead, it’s introducing some of its own genre-changing innovations – the ability to switch characters after each checkpoint for example, or the option to throw revival potions to downed players on the other side of the map. It’s inventive and utterly invigorating.
Hunted’s an ambitious and highly polished return to the genre that started it all, then, fusing the production values, pacing and excitement of the modern action game with that familiar, yet presumed lost feel of a dungeon crawler. A classic in the making, in other words.