The hack 'n' slash genre is one which I haven't played enough of in recent years, mainly because games of the hack 'n' slash variant tend to be of poor quality and are often immediately bargain bin material or the stuff of weird Doom 3 mods
The hack 'n' slash genre still has a lot to offer though in theory, as long as a good enough game can be made of it. Simple interfaces, focus on combat and RPG-lite elements; these are the hallmarks of hack 'n' slash which make it ideal for laptop gaming and some casual RPG fans.
So, since we RPG fanatics are otherwise left around waiting for Fallout 3
and Mass Effect
, we'll have a look at the upcoming Loki
and see if it can tide us over or if it's nothing more than the bargain bin material we're used to.
The first thing that's obvious about Loki
is that it's obviously trying to get back to some old-school roots and, from the moment you see the amount of damage float upwards off of enemies as you hack and slash chunks out of their HP scores, it feels very familiar. So familiar in fact that we didn't even have to puzzle over the controls, they just came naturally to our fingertips.
Click to enlarge.
Through the preview we got to control a Norse character, a Viking with a penchant for axes in the snowy climes of (one presumes) Norway. He was easily controlled and moved around with clicks of the left mouse button and holding it down and moving it in the distance allowed him to be guided whilst moving forwards. The right mouse button activates the selected skill, but we'll get back to that later.
You may notice that I'm referring to my player character in the third person, not talking about how I guided myself as the character. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the game is played through the third person, so a certain amount of deictic distance is automatic (the linguistics degree pays off finally!) and the other is that players are never really offered a chance to customise the character very much.
Click to enlarge
Creating a character was an all too simple affair, consisting of choosing a name for the Viking. Other characters from different time periods are available in the full game, namely Aztec, Egyptian and Greek characters who must each take part in a greater story.
Oh, yes, the story.
Paced throughout four different time periods, Loki
tasks players with stopping the resurrected god, Seth, who is the Egyptian god of Chaos and Evil. Each time period has a different cataclysm in its background which Seth is exploiting – Ragnarok in the Norse land or The Fall of Troy in the Greek campaign for example. Players can then hunt for treasure in each time zone and complete quests to gain strength and levels which will help them in the relentless pursuit of Seth.
All in all, it's a nice twist on the 'only you can save the world' story-type, even if it is, on closer inspection, just a 'only you can save the world for now' story done four times.