Archangel Review


Archangel begins with a traffic accident on a lonely road at night.  A car and a semi meet on a blind turn, and the car and its driver don't fare well from the meeting.  The driver is Michael, your character in the game, and it would be a short game if you simply died on the road at this point.  Instead you awaken from the wreck inside a mysterious temple filled with monks who refer to you as the Chosen One.  You have been chosen by the Lord of Light to battle the demonic forces of the Evil One, and you take this news, and the fact that you've been teleported to some strange Medieval world, in stride.  Your first assignment is the tried and true "investigate the strange happenings in the local village" stock mission, and so you leave the temple ready for some demon killing.

Screenshots
A demonic foe.

Just outside of the temple's gates you are met by an angel who takes you to see the Big Guy.  He gives you a choice of one of two special forms that can be assumed for a limited time: a ghost or a warrior.  While in ghost form you are invisible to enemies and can unleash an attack that will affect several enemies at once.  Warrior form is physically stronger, and reduces damage taken from enemies.  Once you make your choice you are dropped back down to Earth and sent on your way.

So far things aren't too bad.  You've spent the first twenty minutes or so of the game watching cutscenes and have been given the occasional chance to take control of short interactive sequences.  Once play begins, though, you'll quickly find that the set-up and wait time was not worth it.

The first issue you'll encounter is that the world is repetitive and bland.  The trails all look the same, with few details and blocky textures.  And it's all quite dark, even with the game's brightness turned up and all the lights in the room off, you'll have problems making out some of the details.  Perhaps this is what the developers intended as a way to hide the sub par graphics.  Things don't improve when you reach the village in question, as it features just a handful of buildings and only a few denizens who all spout useless single lines of dialogue.  Should you stick with the game, you'll be transported to a couple of other worlds including a futuristic city.  The future does not hold any improvements, though, as the city is nondescript, repetitive, and sparsely populated.  However, you'll soon forget your complaints about wandering down twisting, identical looking paths without any kind of mapping feature when you encounter your first enemies. 

The primary problem with the game is that your additional form and your primary weapon, the Sword of Light, draw power from your spiritual energy.  This energy is fast to drain and very slow to regenerate, giving you just a few swings of your sword before you are left without the ability to attack.  Later in the game you can find a few weapons that don't require energy, but they are relatively weak compared to the Sword of Light and some foes can only be damaged by the sword.  This leaves you in an endless cycle of: swing sword, run in circles waiting for your energy to eventually charge enough to give you another swing, swing sword, repeat.  The enemies in the game oblige you by following a simple "make a beeline for the guy with the sword" strategy, allowing you to expand your tactics beyond the circle run.  There's also the "run down the path and hide around the corner waiting to recharge" stratagem.  And the crafty "walk beyond the load point, recover in the next zone, walk back across load point and attack again" maneuver.  Needless to say, this makes combat tedious and time-consuming.