The first Xbox One Game With Gold is here and I’m not disappointed with this. At first glance the game looks very similar to Diablo 3 with the same sort of press a button to use a skill combat system and the same camera angle (isometric view), these similarities are down to it being an isometric action RPG so don’t dismiss it yet.
There are six character classes and five difficulties giving a good amount of choice for skill level and preferred play style. The game also has hardcore characters that if they die you can’t use them anymore which is good because death means very little in the regular mode.
Player agency doesn’t end with the character selection, throughout the game there are pieces of dialogue that require an answer from your character which you sometimes get to choose between, the answers and results are often where the real charm of the game is seen. The serious tone created by the theme of monsters, vampires and the end of the world is torn apart and stitched back together by the sudden bouts of silliness that would be heard such as torturing a prisoner being scratching a black board, a statue to Angus The Young who always took the higher road to hell or even a line from Scooby Doo appearing in the final boss fight making the most serious of moments a time where I was amazed or rolling on the floor laughing, my favourite was a Monty Python reference.
Even with the doom and gloom of vampires and similar the game wasn’t totally dark, there was a nice variety of enemies and environments that went from brightly lit to a bit grey and gloomy, there were even places where the lighting would change when an objective was completed. I know I don’t normally comment on graphical things but this is something that made this game different from Diablo 3 and left me impressed.
The combat had basic controls, press a button to execute an attack which was easy to understand and possibly hard to master for a hardcore character on the hardest difficulty. The enemies came is swarms of varying strengths using a variety of attacks and the were marked out with healthbars which stated their abilities and their names were coloured based on whether they were normal, elite or legendary. It never took me long to go from feeling overpowered to underpowered but level ups were frequent and managing items for damage and resistances kept me strong. Cleared areas often stayed clear, even after a save, quit and reload which made exploration easier.
Exploration was a key thing in the game and those that did some would be rewarded by finding more things to fight, a quest, a chest of gold or items, you might even find a hidden area or some of the dialogue that made the game so special for me. But the combat did sometimes make attempting to explore annoying.
The problems I had with the game are that the tutorial was hidden in a menu that I struggled to find the first few times I looked through it which meant it was good that I basically knew the controls already especially when I was stuck in an area with no exit and had to leave by holding up on the d-pad which the game wasn’t telling me, because of the menus I missed a few things until late in the game. Enemy AOE (area of effect) attacks often felt too powerful and killed me in seconds without me being able to escape. Some objectives couldn’t be activated unless I faced them from a very specific angle and at one point I fell off the map but managed to get back on quickly without having to reload.
The game remained fun all the way through and even had optional army management and tower defence sections which the achievements joked was preparation for The World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap and I would highly recommend getting it. I even think I’d choose this game over Diablo 3 plus it has extra modes and secrets that I didn’t find so a lot of replay value eventhough it doesn’t have Diablo 3’s eighteen difficulties. If you do prefer the tower defence section over the rest of the game there is a game for that too.
The art that I’m using as the featured image was found on the achievements section of the Xbox website. It’s very red, conjuring the image of fire and hell, especially with the big snake-dragon-thing which is the main boss of the game. The main character is smaller, looking up to show that he’s nothing compared to what he must defeat. I think this picture has some real draw to it.