Enclave – PC – Review

Enclave is the latest from
developer Starbreeze Studios.  It originally debuted on the Xbox last year,
receiving mixed reviews.  Most agreed that it was a nice game, but problems
occurred with aiming using the controller, and the fact that there were no
checkpoints in the levels.  Thankfully, in the revamped PC version, these
problems have been fixed, allowing for a lovely experience all around (for the
most part, anyway).

 

We start off by choosing a
path to follow – do you choose the path of light or darkness?  They’re actually
two totally different paths, each sporting different levels and different
playable characters.  The knight, huntress, wizard, druid, engineer, and
halfling represent the light side.  As you progress through the game, they
become available to you.  The dark side features characters such as assassins,
lichs, and goblins.  What’s nice is being able to use the gold you collect
throughout the levels to but new weapons, armor, and items for each character. 
You can replay any mission at any time, as long as you’ve already unlocked it. 
This adds a fair amount of replayability to the game, even though the levels can
be pretty straightforward.

 

The actual gameplay is a lot
of fun.  Its controls are nice and tight, with a third-person camera always
directly behind your warrior.  Weapons are the heart of the game, of course, and
using them is fun.  Swords are pretty simple – you want to get in close and
swing.  There are a number of slightly different swings, though, depending on
which direction you may be moving.  If you’re moving backwards, you’ll be
swinging differently than if you were strafing from side to side.  It’s a nice
little touch that adds some depth and makes everything look nice.  Bows are just
as important as blades, though, giving you an edge from afar.  Crossbars fire
immediately, but are not as powerful as long bows.  You need to hold in the
attack button before letting go to unleash a deadly arrow.  You can even load up
more than one arrow at a time, allowing for some nifty burst attacks.  There are
also magical staffs, which come in a variety of flavors, but usually shoot
projectiles of some sort.  Rounding out your arsenal are the ever-important
defensive items – shields can be used to ward off attacks, and potions can be
stored for times when you’re in danger of dying.

 

There are quite a few
missions, each with their own objectives.  Some have you simply trying to get
from Point A to Point B; some have you escorting important folk, some have you
searching for certain items, or trying to destroy a particularly malicious
boss.  I never became sick or bored with completing the objectives; the whole
experience feels fresh, even when playing through levels a second time.  There
are also Survival-style missions, where you just have to slay all of the enemies
that are tearing at you for your blood.  It can become a little mindless, but
they are optional.

 

Yes, I definitely enjoyed
playing Enclave – most of the time.  There are a few things that bothered me
that might be worth pointing out.  A few of the levels suffer from extreme
slowdown.  It’s possible that very powerful computers will have no problem, but
mine was running earlier levels with wonderful speed and smoothness until I came
upon one or two levels that were practically unplayable due to the terrible
slowdown.  I was forced to trudge through them to progress, and in the long run,
it’s only a small problem.  The only other problem worth noting is the sometimes
bad AI.  Enemies aren’t entirely stupid, as they actually don’t get caught on
corners, unlike in so many other games.  However, when attacking, they often
just run back and forth, firing their weapon at you, or chase you mindlessly. 
It’s not a terrible problem, but it could have made the game even better if the
AI were improved.         

 

Graphics are very nice. 
Environments are detailed meticulously, made up of tons of polygons and
well-textured.  Characters are pretty cool looking, with a nice artistic flair. 
Even the enemies are designed nicely – you’d almost rather stop and look at them
than pummel them to a fine pulp.  Aside from the few levels with the bad
framerate, animation was top-notch; fluid and convincing.  Everything is just
very, very nice to look at.

 

Sound is fine, but nothing
spectacular.  The background music gets the job done, being neither impressive
nor terrible.  Sound in cutscenes is often cut off before the scene actually
finishes, which is rather weird.  Subtitles also tend to move way too fast,
getting far ahead of actual voices – which are pretty decent.  Overall, the
sound isn’t going to fill your speakers with glee, but it won’t make them want
to commit suicide, either.

 

Yes, Enclave is a very solid
action game.  It’s fun, fresh, has great control, a lot of replayability, great
visuals, and okay sound.  If you’re planning on picking up the game, this
improved PC version should be the one to get.  It would definitely be easier to
aim with a keyboard and mouse than a controller, especially in a game that
requires a lot of it.  If you need an action fix, Enclave should be considered. 

 

 


Gameplay: 8.0

At first glance, the game
looks like your average hack n’ slash title.  Upon further inspection, we find
lots of neat weapons, from bows, to daggers, to magic staffs.  The control is
tight, the levels are designed nicely, and it’s just a fun adventure.  The only
thing really hurting the game is the ridiculous slowdown encountered in a few
levels.


 


Graphics: 9.0

Enclave sports some pretty
good looking graphics, with lavish environments and detailed characters.  It’s
all pretty impressive, and very nice on the eyes. 


 


Sound: 7.5

The music in the game is
pretty well done – it never becomes too droning or annoying.  There’s a
bit of a problem with the fact that subtitles appear way too fast, completely
not in sync with actual dialogue.  I’ve also noticed that the last second or so
of dialogue is sometimes cut off during cutscenes.  A little odd, but not a huge
problem.


 


Difficulty: Medium

You’ll need a little skill
to complete the tougher levels, but progression without too much trouble.  Some
stages will have you frustrated, but most others aren’t extremely difficult.


 


Concept: 8.0

The game may not do a whole
lot that hasn’t been done in some way or another before, but it does offer neat
elements that keep it from feeling too plain, with distinctly different
characters that can be equipped however you wish – assuming you have enough
gold.  The story is interesting, as well.


 


Multiplayer: N/A

There’s no multiplayer mode
in Enclave, which is a little disappointing.  It would have been fun to beat up
your buddies online with an assortment of weapons and characters.


 


Overall: 8.4

Enclave is a solid action
title that should keep you entertained the whole time.  The game is fun, with
great environments, fun weapons, tight controls, and quirky enemies.  Some might
consider it a simple beat-em’-up game at first glance, but it really is much
more than that.  Take a look.