Hunted: The Demon Forge Preview

Written by Joe Martin

August 18, 2010 | 23:00

Tags: #gamescom-2010 #hunted

Companies: #bethesda #inxile-entertainment

Hunted: The Demon Forge Preview

Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Release Date: Q1 2011

GamesCom 2010: Hunted might just be the blandest game we've ever seen, if we're going to be brutally honest. Worse, that fact doesn't really surprise us – it's always a bad sign when you've got one of the developers spewing hyperbole in your ear as you play the game. In our experience the developers of the exciting games know to let it speak for itself, while the developers of the really exciting games are rarely to be seen at all – they're too busy giving interviews. They certainly aren't close to outnumbering the visitors...

And besides, what sort of name is 'Hunted: The Demon Forge' anyway?

To be clear, it's not that the game itself is bad in any real way; the biggest single problem we could level at Hunted would be that the graphics are a bit muddy, and even that could be countered by the fact that it's a preview build and probably not truly representative of the final quality. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can really point to as being really good either – it's just all a bit...m'eh.

To hear the developers tell it, both at GamesCom today and at the announcement event a few months back, Hunted is a game with many hooks. Different people will tell you that it's about different things, be that the 'visceral' combat, the co-op teamplay, the sense of exploration or the subtle inversion of stereotypes to create a more mature universe.

Hunted: The Demon Forge Preview Hunted: The Demon Forge Preview
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To decode the PR-talk, that last point means that of the two characters, a female archer and a burly barbarian, it's the girl who's the bloodthirsty one. It does lend a little more depth to the characters, we suppose, but only at the most basic level. Really, really basic.

These two characters naturally find themselves in the usual fantasy tropes – ancient powers, mysterious influences, hideous monsters, etc. Lots of skelingtons and magic, basically, with the two heroes rushing to save something from something for some reason. If I'm being a bit to general here then it's because there's not really all that much to get specific about – even the details feel generic and uninteresting.

The game is co-op based, though you're not narrowed down to playing either the Female Elf Archer or the Manly Barbarian exclusively, thanks to checkpoints which let you swap over and see if the grass really is greener. Unfortunately, it nearly always isn't; no matter which class you play as it seems as if you're just pressing random buttons to summon arbitrary actions; there's not nearly enough personality or feedback to root you in the moment, from what we've seen.

Hunted: The Demon Forge Preview Hunted: The Demon Forge Preview
Click to enlarge

There is variety though – that's one thing that Hunted does have going for it, at least. Both Manly Barbarian and Elven Archer have access to magic attacks, as well as melee and ranged. Elf's longbow is more powerful than Barbarian's crossbow and Mr. Man's cleaver does more damage than Mrs. Bloodthirsty's short sword, but it's only much of a muchness. It's only the magic that changes things up, really.

There are sidequests too – moments when the action stops long enough to say 'here, go find this', little more, from what we've seen. There's some exploration and puzzles too, which we're told makes up about 30 percent of the game compared to the 70 percent action. We haven't seen anything we'd really class as 'exploration' though, so we can't comment on any of that. Who know, maybe it's really good.

All we have seen, all we can comment on, is the action and a few story sequences, all typically brief and blaise; not great, not bad, just mediocre at best and, in short, certainly not worth getting excited over. We'll take a look at Hunted: The Demons Forge when it's finally released, but for now? M'eh.

Hunted: The Demons Forge will be released early next year on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC by Bethesda.
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