Hunted: The Demon's Forge Review - I Can Haz Co-op?

When the previews of Hunted: The Demon's Forge first hit the Internet, I must admit that I was sure I would love it. It looked like a certain third-person shooter game franchise on that OTHER game console but with swords rather than guns. Plus, the focus was blatantly put on pushing this game as a co-op experience. I have a few regular buddies that I like to co-op with, so I had to give it a try.
Graphics...a Solid Meh To be blunt, at first I was a little disappointed. The graphics for Hunted are not going to be winning any awards any time soon. That's for certain. In fact, I would almost say that the graphics are decidedly last-gen. Resident Evil 5 looked better than this from what I remember. Maybe that's a little harsh; let's put them on even ground. The character models are decent, but their lips barely move when they speak, if at all. There's not much in the way of shading or lighting; the only instance of lighting occurs when you actually use fire to light dark passages, and even then it's inconsistent.

A Not-So-Typical Story Once I got passed the graphics, however, I found that I really ENJOYED the game. The story consists of what most would say is a standard fantasy trope. Maruading Wargar (let's face it, they're orcs) are invading civilized lands and killing everything in sight. There's something dark and sinister behind the invasion, and our heroes have to go in, find out what it is, and stop it at all costs to save the kingdom.

The difference between most fantasy tropes and Hunted, however, lies with the main characters. First, you have Caddoc, the primarily melee warrior (though he does have a crossbow). Caddoc is an arachnophobe (and there are a lot of spidery things in the game) and the more level-headed of the duo. Then you have Elara, the elven bow-wielding huntress (though she does have a sword and board combo for when things get hairy). Elara is the more feisty of the two and is afraid of heights. The dialogue between the two centering on these traits is enjoyable as well.

Hunted The Demon's ForgeThese two antagonists stress over and over again that they are not heroes; they're mercenaries motivated by coin. Early on in the game, they only press forward when offered more money by authority figures. To me, this takes me back to my old tabletop Dungeons & Dragons days when you had to motivate greedy players with something besides glory and doing the right thing. I enjoyed the nod.

Mixing It Up
When I got into the actual gameplay of Hunted: The Demon's Forge I found I really enjoyed it. Some have called it "Spears of War" and that is largely true. You roadie run, perform executions, revive your downed ally, use cover - you get the idea. The difference here though is that you have one character designed to mix it up in melee and one designed for range attacks. There's a little spill over, but the roles are plainly laid out and you won't survive without using them as such.

Both characters also "level up" as the game goes by, and you are able to choose where you want to put your focus. If you want Caddoc to be pure melee, you can put all your points in such powers, though you can also branch out to hurl fire and lightning if you wish. Elara's powers mostly involve adding magical effects to her arrows to create almost-overpowered fire, arcane, and ice effects, though you can branch out into the same powers that Caddoc has access to (fire, lightning, etc.). There are also magical weapons with additional effects to be had along the way, though you don't really have an inventory, just a few slots to fill up. It's all pretty streamlined.

Though Hunted is primarily a co-op game, your AI partner is surprisingly competent. They'll revive you when you are downed and actually manage to kill some enemies. Co-op, however, is where it really shines. The difficulty is amped up and you really need to work together. You can co-op both online and via split-screen.

Worth a Try if You Like Fantasy Co-op
Overall, I'd say Hunted: The Demon's Forge is worth a play if you enjoy the fantasy genre and/or co-op gameplay. I find co-op to be an enjoyable distraction away from the standard single player experience and competitive online play. I like accomplishing something with friends that doesn't involve interruption between matches or griefers - and it looks like more and more gamers are agreeing with me.

Hunted, in many ways, hearkens back to old tabletop fantasy games and looks forward with its co-op focus. On the other hand, don't expect the graphics to dazzle you. That being said, it still has something to offer.

Article by - Brett Huffman

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