Hunted: The Demon’s Forge Review

It’s a bit unfair to assume that Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is an RPG based purely on its aesthetic, but it’s hard not to. I was about an hour in before it hit me: I’m not playing an RPG; I’m playing an action game. It’s a strangely hard realization to come to, but once you are able, you will find that Hunted does have something to offer to those looking for a certain kind of cooperative experience, even if it does have a few problems.

Hunted follows the tale of two mercenaries and their quest to incidentally save the world while trying to make some money. E’Lara is an Elven female doing her best to keep the cliche, barely clothed, yet somehow heavily armored female stereotype alive. Caddoc is doing the best he can to make sure that all male videogame protagonists have little to no hair. Neither character does anything remarkable in terms of design, but the banter they share and the general relationship between the two is interesting, and ends up being the best part of the game. They typically respond to situations differently than you would expect, and are rarely boring. The rest of the game, though, does not fare so well.

The story just sort of begins suddenly, and never really picks up. There isn’t much pushing you to move forward in the narrative, and since we’ve established that this is not an RPG, you won’t ever be saying, “one more level before bed!” Outside of the interactions between E’Lara and Caddoc, the experience is just dull. Everything and everyone looks the same, which means not only is everything repetitive and bland, but you will also be getting lost often.

Hunted is rough to look at. The character models of the main protagonists look good, until you see their faces. The voice acting isn’t bad, but the faces are completely lacking in emotion. The eyes barely move, and the lips appear to be the only part of the face that make any movement. The other characters and environments are noticeably pixelated, and shy away from any other color besides black, brown and slightly darker brown.

The combat is a mix of third person shooting, simple hack and slash and magic abilities. E’Lara is focused on her bow, and Caddoc focuses on his sword. Both have the ability to do both attack types (melee and long range) but each character favors a particular mode. When brandishing the bow, Hunted does it’s best to look and feel like a cover shooter. There are plenty of boxes to hide behind and peak over, but you will more often than not find yourself moving around and not using cover at all. I just found the game to be more exciting this way. When using Caddoc’s sword, you will basically just be running toward an enemy and hitting the attack button until the enemy falls, and then move onto the next guy. Magic attacks help to vary the combat, and the option for a finishing move pops up every now and then, but mostly, the combat just feels tedious. There are a few opportunities for strategy, especially when playing co-op, but for the most part, you’re just taking out the waves of enemies without much thought, and moving on.

Hunted, like many games with the option, is more fun with a co-op partner. The single-player game can be played entirely in co-op via split-screen, linked consoles, or online. There is no option to drop in and out, though, which is unfortunate. If someone wants to join you, either online or as a person sitting next to you, you must leave the game, add your partner, and then go back to your last checkpoint.

Hunted is built around cooperative play, and it’s got a few cool, simple mechanics that I hope to see in similar co-op games in the future. The dynamic between a focused long-range player, and a focused close-combat player means that the two characters feel very different, and can lead to an experience that truly does require teamwork. You can use magic to increase the combat abilities of your partner, and — my personal favorite — you can revive a downed partner without getting close to them. You basically throw a revive potion at your partner, and it will bring them back to life. The revive mechanic makes sense in Hunted, because Caddoc and E’Lara are rarely near one another.

Along with the single-player game, there is also a mode for creating your own levels and arenas that can be played by yourself or other online combatants. The options available to create levels expand as you progress and collect money in the main story campaign. It’s a cool addition, but I doubt it’s one many will take advantage of. I really can’t imagine many people clamoring for more content after finishing Hunted, but those players will exist, and they will be happy to play through the extra arenas either alone or with a partner.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is basically a straight-up, point-A-to-point-B action game… that looks like a dated RPG. Alone, the game is pretty boring, but with a friend Hunted becomes less of a chore and even exciting. The focus is clearly on the cooperative mechanics, and that is where the game feels the best. There are better co-op experiences out there, but Hunted will appeal to gamers who have played those already, and are looking to play with someone else during the summer gaming lulls.


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Author: Kyle Hilliard View all posts by

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