Hunted: The Demon’s Forge Review
A great co-op adventure for two.
Bethesda and inXile have joined up to bring us one of the best co-op experiences the Xbox 360 has seen, in Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. Fueled by their desires for more co-op games on the market, they worked together to create a rich fantasy world, where in this Action-RPG, teamwork is everything.
The main Adventure mode tells the story of mercenary adventurers Caddoc and E’Larra, and their journey to find the answers of the death stones. While travelling to find treasure at a hidden fountain, they stumble across a glowing green crystal, only to be ambushed by a strange spirit who tasks them to save her village of Dyfed which is under seige by demons. The story is quite good and we won’t spoil any of it for you. It’s a well told tale that, fantasy fan or not you will enjoy.
The characters are set with different strengths, Caddoc is a brute who can wield heavy weapons and interact with larger objects, while E’lara is an Elvish Rogue who utilizes fast shooting bows, smaller melee weapons and interacts with the smaller items. This works well for the co-op aspect as you have to work together to solve puzzles and make your way through the game. This solves the problem of one player being able to just sprint ahead and do all the work. You are a team and must work like one. You can switch between characters at set points throughout the game (the thing that looks like blue smoke coming out of the ground), or stay with the one you prefer best and you then issue commands for the other character to act on.
As you defeat enemies, they drop loot (LOOT!). This could be a weapon or armor to swap to, or potions. The weapon swapping is done really well, when you stand over the item, the screen displays the stats on your current weapon and the new one, making it really easy to see if it’s worth swapping out. This is a great time saver and over looked in many games with a looting system. The strange part about the looting system is that you don’t really have an inventory. You can hold 1 of each potion (until you earn upgrades), 2 melee weapons, 1 bow, a shield and your armor, that’s it. If you want a new weapon you must swap out the old one, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you don’t have to worry about selling items or cleaning out the junk you’ve been hording. You also pick up gold as you go so you don’t have to worry about selling your old stuff to earn gold either.
Throughout each chapter you will find waypoints where you can buy and assign powers with crystals and artifacts you have collected along the way. The powers are split between spells and bonus abilities to your weapons. They are also very well connected between the characters, so picking the right combination of powers for each is key. You can then use those powers together in battle to maximize damage.
Hunted uses a great cover system, very similar to Gears of War. As you near cover, you press A to take cover and then while holding the Left trigger you pop out to shoot, it’s a cool addition to a genre that wouldn’t normally use a cover system.
The combat in Hunted is really well done too. You have your ranged weapons on the Right trigger and melee weapons on X, making it a smooth transition between them. You also have your powers set to RB and switching from powers, to melee to ranged is very slick, so it doesn’t feel like you are losing too much time in between and being left vulnerable to the enemies nearby. Also, when using a bow you can zoom in while in cover and it will auto target the closest enemy, a great feature to have for beginners. When playing as Caddoc, you use your melee attack you fill up your meter, and when it’s full, you use Y to unleash devistating attacks.
There are also some challenges of sorts called Talents. Basically they are goals you have to reach to upgrade certain abilities. Such as kill 250 enemies to get an extra health vial slot, or kill 400 to get extra melee damage. After you beat the game on any difficulty above easy you open Adventure Mode+, which lets you replay with your earned powers and upgraded characters. This also lets you keep working on your talents if you haven’t completed them yet.
Between the collectibles, 4 difficulties, Adventure Mode+, and playing once as each character, there is plenty of replay value in Hunted.
The single player is great, but why not play online with a friend? Bethesda and inXile know whats up.
Being a co-op game, of course Hunted is going to let you play the main adventure online (or splitscreen offline) with a friend. What kind of game would not let you do that? Hunted lets you host or join public games or host a private game. The setup is simple and gets you into the action quickly.
There is also a mode called Crucible which is played on arena maps that you can create or download (for free) and then play online with a friend. When creating a map you can pick the background theme, the enemies and the loadouts. At first you don’t have much to pick from, but the more you play you earn Gold which lets you unlock more options to customize the maps even further. To make this even more worth playing, there are several achievements you can earn for playing Crucible maps.
This also creates endless replay value, since you can create and share your maps, which means there is always going to be new maps to download from other players. Pretty neat idea.
The only flaw to the online modes are that they are only 2 player only. Now I know the story is set around 2 characters but it would have been cool to let us at least in the crucible maps, have 4 player co-op. Next time maybe?
The achievements are a great mix. You earn them for beating chapters, collecting crystals and artifacts, finding rare weapons, using co-op power attacks and other tasks throughout the game. The collectible system is done well, they don’t slow the pace, they don’t have hundreds of them to make you wander around all day and they only benefit you to find them so it’s definitately worth taking an extra look around the levels. There are also achievements to beat all the bosses with each character which adds to the replay value as well.
With co-op being something we love, and this game being a great co-op adventure, we recommend picking this one up. Even if you don’t like playing co-op or don’t have any friends that play online, the single player is still a great time. With a good story and well done combat and cover systems, Hunted will easily be on your list of great games this year.