Hunted: The Demon's Forge

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Bethesda announced Hunted: The Demon’s Forge at E3 2010 with little aplomb. It came out of nowhere, from the same studio behind A Bard’s Tale and with a June 1 release date. We had a chance to spend some time with the game to see how it’s coming along..

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge begins with a prologue that introduces the two characters: bow specialist elf E’lara and melee specialist Caddoc. The game starts off with E’lara, introducing her bow and melee attacks. The projectile stance controls more like a third-person shooter, and switching between that and the melee stance is as easy as tapping the corresponding button. It’s a simple design choice that feels smart, as the two stances are substantially different in feel.

We are introduced to the characters, a pair of mercenaries with snarky banter. After journeying to find a mana spring, the two discover a doorway that Caddoc had seen in a dream. Upon journeying through, they find a death stone and are then commanded by Seraphin, a scantly clad goth chick who passes through portals at will, to touch the death stone. Instead of killing them, the stone grants the duo abilities to use magic. From there on out, theirs is a journey to save the world and earn money. It’s standard stuff, so few will be blown away by the story, with the exception of the surprise role of Lucy Lawless as Seraphin. Awesome.

After testing out E’lara, the game let us switch to Caddoc at a checkpoint. It is only at these checkpoints that we could switch between characters, and the differences between the two are clear. Caddoc, unlike E’lara, has a fury meter that will build up and allow him to unleash a massive attack. Later, once magical attacks are unlocked, the two do share certain abilities, but E’lara can learn arrow-based magic while Caddoc can learn physical magic. While the two control quite alike, there is enough different to interest gamers in each.

While Hunted is a fairly traditional hack-n-slash, it does offer a lot to keep people going. Surprisingly, I’ve been told that Hunted is a fairly substantial game offering 18-20 hours of gameplay, and part of that is related to the exploration elements. E’lara and Caddoc are given primary level goals, such as passing through dungeon or taking down a boss, but each level have secondary goals and areas to explore. Smart players will go through and find extra crystals necessary for upgrades, equip-ready weapons and gear, and more. The death stone even allows our duo to talk with fallen bodies for guidance on finding magical weapons and items.

The game is obviously much more fun on co-op. With one player performing buffs and melee as Caddoc, and another eliminating enemies with exploding arrows as E’lara, it’s obvious that a good team will make working through Hunted much more enjoyable. All in all, Hunted does hold some promise. It doesn’t feel like a AAA title yet, but it does feel like a good secondary game for players to look forward to this June. More than a thoughtless hack-n-slash, players searching for an ambitious title should certainly pay attention to Hunted.

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Ben PerLee
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