The overall play of the game is very simple. Don’t take this the wrong way, it’s not an easy game, it’s just easy to learn how to play it. The game starts out as just about every role-playing game, with you selecting your main character from the 4 given choices (male warrior, female warrior, male mage or female mage). As with any other role-playing game, you have the opportunity to adjust your character’s qualities to suit you. Whether you choose male or female makes no difference other than what you are looking at on your screen (and may alter the dialogues some), but choosing between a mage and a warrior will greatly impact your game. It is recommended that beginners start out with a warrior, it is the easiest type to start with because they are less fragile. In theory, you can complete the game with either, although I am beginning to doubt whether it can really be done with a warrior…
As the game proceeds, you gain abilities, money and weapons. There is, of course, a shop where you can exchange goods (of course, you always get ripped off when you sell something back). Sell and buy wisely, or you’ll end up having to restart from the beginning. Also in town with the shop is an Inn, where you will go to talk to the locals, receive new missions and find others to help you along in your quests (there are some you just can’t do alone, trust me).
The Quests you will receive vary in difficulty. You can choose to take on any of the available quests. Unfortunately, the game is not going to tell you which quests are harder. That is what the “restart last mission” and “abort mission and return to town” options are for. Get used to using the save and load features, it may take several attempts at each encounter. SAVE OFTEN! I can’t stress that enough. The game is very challenging. To increase the difficulty level of the game, you can perform the same exact thing several times, and achieve slightly different results every time. That’s where the traits of a good role-playing game fit in.
Now that you know about the role playing part of the game, there is something else to add to the challenge. It plays more like a real-time strategy game. The speed, of course, is adjustable, and there are many options you can adjust to suit your playing style. For the most part, the characters can do most things on their own, just point them in the right direction. But make sure you can point them quickly enough! I wouldn’t recommend this game for someone with a weak mouse click. Oh, and did I mention that you will mostly be fighting the undead, and very powerful mages?
One very important feature is the ability to save anywhere, anytime, and to be able to have several saved games. Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ll need to save your game a lot. The graphics are good, no astonishing 3d or anything, but I can’t think of anything in the game that could really make use of it. There are a few pretty good short movies to go along with some of the missions. Again, the controls are very simple and easy to learn. The variable speed is a big plus. You don’t have to wait forever for your character to walk across the screen, but you can slow things down when there is too much going on at once. The sound is good. Like any game, the music and sounds are very repetitious to the point that if it takes you too long, you just might start to get sick of hearing them; but I’ve been playing it for 2 weeks and I haven’t quite reached that point yet.
I ran into a couple of difficulties with the beta version I was playing. One being that some of the options wouldn’t stick where I put them, especially when restarting a level. It may be intentional for all the settings to go back to the way they were at the point of the save; but in my opinion, they should just stay where you put them until you change them again, regardless of saving and loading. Also, I had numerous times (usually in the heat of battle, or just as I was polishing off a very difficult opponent) when the game would simply disappear and perform an illegal operation. Hopefully, whatever was causing that will be resolved in the official release.
I also played a little with the multi-player portion of the game. To be honest, I didn’t find it all that great. It’s basically like playing the single player game, except you can steal your opponent’s hard earned cash and equipment by killing him, or just hanging around when something else kills him, and you are stuck on one map. When it comes to multi-player, I’m just looking for a little more excitement. Maybe if another player could control another character in your group and play cooperatively with you to defeat the game, that would be more worthy of multi-player.
My overall impression of the game: You’d better either be a really aggressive and talented gamer, or know how to use the save and load features and have a lot of patience! The game is exciting and fun to play (and possibly a little addictive). But it is also very difficult and can even be frustrating at times. If you liked Dungeons & Dragons type games, and you liked Warcraft, you could probably get into this game very easily.