Micah Reviews: Hunted: The Demon’s Forge
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is the latest co-op game emerging from the untold depths of the gaming sea. Something you’ll pick up on fairly quickly about me and my gaming culturalness is that I mostly play co-op games. This is because I am a grad student and don’t really have a whole lot of free time. So when I do get a few chunks of time to spend with people who aren’t my girlfriend (a wonderful woman who I love spending time with) I just assume not sit in my dorm room by myself and play my Xbox. So I chill out with my friend Riley and we battle on in that most ancient of male traditions: murdering others in the name of fellowship.
A quick note on gaming. Guys game largely for three reasons
1: Stress Relief
2: Relaxation time
Girls make fun of men for gaming because it’s “not profitable” or a “waste of time” or something like that, but the straight fact is that THAT’S WHY WE DO IT! List the things you do for stress relief, relaxation time, and fellowship and you will probably notice that they are not profitable AND are a waste of time! (Stepping off of soap box)
Anyway, you’ll probably notice that most of the games I review are co-op and chronicle the triumphs and defeats of Riley and myself. And now onto the review
The Plot: Let’s just dive into the murky depths of terribleness that is the plot of Hunted (The Demon’s Forge). You play as mercenaries, taking control of either the huge burly macho man Caddock or the smart mouthed, leather strap wearing elf Elara. The writers of this game tried really really hard to make you think these two are friends but it just comes across as awkward. Like the little junior higher who tried so hard to be cool so he could hang out with the 12th graders, Hunted (The Demon’s Forge) just comes across as trying too hard to cover up something it doesn’t know how to do. Ninety-five percent of the dialogue is forced and the five percent that is genuinely funny gets repeated and alluded to so much that any humor that may have been there originally is quickly put to rest.
Anyway, Caddock and Elara set off to find missing villagers who have been kidnapped by the foul Wargar (read: Orcs). The pair blunder through the journey with the game never really changing its plot at all and simply moving the villagers from one place to another and having Elara and Caddock trudge on after them. Optimally a storyline evolves and changes as the game goes but Hunted (The Demon’s… yeah we’re just going with “Hunted” from now on) merely keeps the same tired goal just barely in front of you the entire time. It’s the old carrot and donkey trick but in this case you’re the donkey and the carrot gradually looks less and less appealing. By the end of the ride you’re just trying to get the stupid carrot because you don’t want to have wasted all this time and you ignore the fact that the carrot has become a putrid crawly wasteland of death and decay.
The game offers a couple different endings based on certain moral decisions you’ll make but honestly none of the decisions really ever feel like they have enough weight to them (I use the word “decisions” loosely as really you just make one decision over and over again). At the end of the game when we found out the dire consequences of the seemingly innocuous choice(s) we had made we were… displeased.
The story for Hunted is barely passable and not something that will bring you back into the game save by sheer annoyance. I’m not a game designer or anything but if the reason people are playing your game through a second time is because the end was so dumb they can’t believe it’s the way the game was supposed to end, I think you’ve done something wrong.
The Gameplay: Caddock and Elara control very differently. Caddock wields a sword and shield in more of a traditional hack and slash way; while Elara fights with her bow and arrows. Each can switch to a bow or sword at any time but you’ll definitely spend most of the game playing to your character’s strength. One of the main draws of a game like this is the fact that it’s built to be a co-op game. Most games sort of stick the “co-op” aspect on at the last minute like when I get dressed in the morning and throw on my black tie whether or not it actually matches (let me remind you again I have a girlfriend). When a game boasts a “built from the ground up for co-op” sticker you expect everything to go together like a good George Clooney red carpet ensemble.
Hunted does not do that. If Hunted were a red carpet ensemble it would be Lady GaGa’s. There are just so many different ideas and aspects to the gameplay that you’re never really sure what it’s trying to do. More importantly, very few of those ideas actually work.
But hey, let’s take a second and focus on the positives! Elara actually controls reasonably well. Firing a bow from a third person perspective is very satisfying and pulling off the perfect head shot in the midst of a battle feels great! … and that’s about it for positives.
On the negative side of things Caddock does not control nearly as smoothly as his counterpart does. In fact, if Elara is a pristine Lamborghini than Caddock is a garbage truck with a flat tire. The first time I played through Hunted I played as Caddock and found myself consistently annoyed and more often than not having to have Riley come and rescue me. My second play through as Elara was both more enjoyable and less bruising to my ego. Caddock’s controls are just too glitchy to be effective. His sword play has gaping pauses between combos that give the enemy time to leisurely waltz in and punch you in the face, and your main “punch in the face defense” (your shield) comes up just fast enough to wave at the punch as it fly’s past.
The enemy AI is incredibly retarded and would be easily defeated if the game didn’t occasionally ratchet up the difficulty for no reason at all. You’ll be plowing along starting to feel good about yourself when the enemies will all of the sudden become crack shots and master swordsmen who do hulk scaled damage every time they so much as look at you. After this fight, whatever steroids they’re taking wear off and they’ll go back to humbly waiting for you to come along and disembowel them.
Boss battles are difficult not because the bosses are overly strong but because the game occasionally glitches out during them or just blatantly cheats and kills you for no reason other than it feels like you’ve been alive to long. Bosses are more annoying than anything else as it feels like the game wanted to make them hard but didn’t really know how to do that without loading the dice.
Speaking of bosses I have one more major qualm with this game before we move on. The first really big boss battle is against this massive underground spidery thing. Said spidery thing (the game constantly refers to it as a spider despite the fact it has SIX legs) comes merrily smashing into a couple different battles practically wears a “chase me” sign and marches through, promising a massive boss battle to come! When it actually comes to fighting the thing though all it involves is a little running, a couple launches of an extremely lame feeling catapult and a rock falls on it and kills it. That’s it. A rock. Not me and my battle scarred sword. A rock.
The visuals: Visually Hunted gets a solid “meh.” The graphics are good throughout but never really amaze or engage you. Caddock and Elara both succeed in looking like they escaped from some weird game of Dungeons and Dragons with Caddock all bald and buff and scarred while Elara apparently could only find a couple straps of leather and some body ink to get dressed with. It borders on hilarity how many times throughout the game the designers find an excuse to call attention to Elara and one other female characters lack of traditional garb. It’s like they were afraid teenage boys would go play something else if they didn’t remind you every two minutes that Elara was, in fact, a girl. I’ve never really understood this particular vein of gaming. I mean how am I supposed to be that attracted to a pixel?
Blatant exploitation aside Hunted looks okay. Though none of the bosses or villains really look overly scary and the “breathtaking” vistas didn’t do anything to affect my breath. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Crysis 2 I don’t know.
To sum it all up: Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is a mediocre looking game with a bad story and glitchy gameplay. If any of that got you excited to play this game please mail me your gaming console. You don’t deserve it. It can be decent fun if you go in expecting it to be bad and as long as you don’t mind a checkpoint system that only saves every twenty minutes or so. But just typing that sentence made me regret ever playing this game so… yeah. Don’t play it.
1 out of 5.