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Hunted: The Demon's Forge Preview

Blake_Morse By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Bethesda Softworks 
DEVELOPER inXile Entertainment 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Elves without the gay sex.

Those folks over at Bethesda must think they're really clever. It's not enough to make one of the best-selling, critically acclaimed FPSRPGs of all time, now they want to reach new horizons. Mainly they're looking to reinvent the dungeon crawler for the 21st century. It's a lofty goal, but if anyone can do it, it's the guys over at inXile. And they just might have a shot at it with the upcoming Hunted: The Demon's Forge.

The concept is simple. You take on the role of two warriors, the sexy elf girl E'lara with an affinity for bows and the bald, tattooed barbarian (not Spartan) Caddoc who's pretty handy with a sword.

click to enlargeYou live in a magical land that unsurprisingly resembles the world of The Lord of the Rings and get sent on a quest by the mysterious Seraphim. It starts off easy enough: Go to this town and seek out your fortune, but things quickly turn sour and you find yourself in a battle with some ugly freaks that look like they came straight out of 30 Days of Night. As you can imagine, much in the same way as dating a stripper, things get complicated faster than you can say “champagne room”. You'll be able to play as one or both of the heroes, switching between them at predetermined checkpoints and depending on whom you choose, you'll experience various aspects of the adventure differently.

At its heart, this is a game meant to be played with a friend, so of course online and local co-op will be an option. But they wanted something a little more in-depth for their matchmaking system, even going as far as researching dating sites and how they gather data to find you that perfect someone, so you can expect to see a lot of unique options as far as picking a partner for your quest goes.

While the plot starts you off on the familiar quest of epic lootage that fans of the genre are all too familiar with, the real point at which Hunted becomes its own game is in the gameplay. This is not a game that will saturate you with menus and character management. In fact, it seems more like a wizards and dragons version of Gears of War than it resembles any RPGs I can recall playing in the recent past. It's an oversimplification, but that's essentially what you can look forward to, only instead of chainsaw guns, you get magic spells and ice arrows, which is a fair trade-off.

click to enlargeThe other major difference is that you won't have to run head first into a swarm of the Horde in order to save your companion from having their skull stomped into mush. You'll be able to toss a revival crystal to your partner from anywhere on the battlefield, as long as you can see them and you actually happen to have a crystal handy. Another type of crystal is used in place of experience points as a method to upgrade and unlock new skills and abilities.

Even the concept of exploration has been streamlined. There will be many hidden paths and secret rooms - one of which was discovered by filling they eye socket of a giant talking stone head with fire - filled with the l33t-est of goodies. You'll be able to get through the entire game without ever taking the road less traveled, but ruining such an experience in that way would be almost sacrilegious.

Will Hunted: The Demon's Forge make us change the way the world views a genre almost exclusively populated by D&D nerds and bring it to the mainstream gamer, or will it just be a hell of a lot of fun to play? Well, I can't really tell you when you're going to get a chance to find out, because they haven't given us a release date yet, but at the very least I can confirm that will be available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. And as soon as we have a street date, we'll let you know.

(Duplicate PS3, PC.)

More GR previews for this game:
Hunted: The Demon's Forge preview posted on 03/30/10.

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