R.A.W. - Realms of Ancient War Review


Player(s): 1
Extra Features: 2-player Co-op (Local), Leaderboards

Realms of Ancient War (RAW) takes me back to the days of Gauntlets Legends - the days that I used to spend dropping quarters into arcade games when I would hear the phrase that my "Red Warrior is about to die!" while fighting hordes of baddies that constantly regenerated from spawn points. Sure, the game got repetitive after a while, but the constant leveling and overall progression of my character is what kept me hooked. RAW is a hack and slash RPG title developed by Wizarbox and published by Focus Home interactive. The game feels very similar to old-school hack and slash RPGs such as Gauntlet Legends or Diablo.

From the start, you will pick between three character classes (warrior, wizard and rogue) and then start the game from each character's current area. Each of the character classes has their own starting point, so there is some fun to be had by playing through at least the beginning stage with each class. Each class feels quite unique as well. The warrior is good for close range fights with his dual wielded swords or axes. The wizard is best at long-range attacks but he does have a few close range abilities as well - he's easily the hardest class to play since he relies on mana the most and is helpless without it. The rogue is good at long range with her bow and arrow and she is decent at close range with her daggers.

Each beginning level gives you a feel for the character as you battle against a few evil baddies in the opening areas then you're taken through a portal and your character meets up with a spirit of a king that gets you started on your quest for the rest of the game. The story to the game itself is quite simple - four kings united under the request of one king to call a truce between the lands and then only three kings returned from that meeting and never mentioned what happened there. During the story, you'll figure out what happened as it unravels through the king that you meet at the beginning of the game. After meeting up with the king, each character's story plays out the same for the most part with only a few changes in dialogue.

You'll go through wastelands, forests, graveyards, dungeons, deserts, castles, catacombs and many other areas on your quest. The enemies start out as spiders for the most part, but they vary a great deal throughout the game with enemies such as elves, human thieves, dwarves, goblins and many other creatures. Spider all have spawn points, but the rest of the enemies appear to spawn off- screen, so you usually can't stop the flow of enemies by destroying nearby spawn points. RAW's enemy behavior is just like in your most basic hack and slash games, however. Once they appear, they target your character and follow your character blindly until they can attack. I literally led some enemies through deadly traps and they just walked through them and took damage (sometimes died) without even a hint of stopping. I'm pretty used to AI enemies such as this in hack and slash RPGs since I used to play Gauntlet Legends so much back in the day so this didn't bother me so much, but it might be a turnoff to some.

With each level gained through defeating enemies, your character's stats will rise and you will obtain skill points that can be used to upgrade abilities on your ability list. Abilities are sometimes character specific but a good deal of them are the same per character. The entire right side of the skill tree is the same per character. Every character can heal, every character can gain the ability to call down a clone to fight alongside the character and there are a few other abilities that are shared as well. The majority of the abilities that a character starts out with from the beginning are the main unique abilities that your character will get.

The controls for the game fit right along with the abilities for your character. Each of the four face buttons will perform some type of attack that can be mapped from the ability screen. No button has a designated function - they are all customizable. The warrior has two ranged special abilities and one that can hit all around him. The rogue can fire her bow and arrow and she can set traps for enemies - that trap will disperse a poisonous cloud once activated that will damage her enemies. The wizard has a poisonous gas cloud that can be set up all around him for crowds of enemies and he has a close range attack. As previously mentioned, all of the wizard's abilities cost mana however. The wizard is the only character that must really need to worry about mana, but thankfully his mana gauge recharges quicker than other character classes. All characters must worry about a cooldown period for each skill, and that usually gives time enough for mana to recharge for their special abilities. The warrior and rogue do not consume mana for their basic close range attacks like the wizard does.

Like any ordinary RPG, you'll have your set of armor and weapons to equip, which are level specific, so you can't equip high level armor at a low level. Inventory can become quickly crowded in the later stages - whenever I play an RPG game my character is like a vacuum that sucks up every single piece of equipment in an area so I often found myself hoping there would be a merchant nearby to sell my useless goods to. Like a Borderlands game, you'll be picking up TONS of useless equipment later in the game and will simply have to leave some behind. Life Potions and Mana Potions can be used by pressing a shoulder button during gameplay to restore each respective attribute. Soul Stones can be used to resurrect your character once fallen. Enemies will often surround a character in the later stages and hit points will fall FAST, so I had to keep a finger near the life potion button quite a bit on later stages.

Besides the normal enemies, the game has some boss enemies that are bigger and have their own life meter, but they quickly become no threat at all once I started to level up - I could literally kill a giant ogre with one hit from the warrior's ranged special attack in the later levels. The game is not easy, but it's not exactly all that hard on normal level. Thankfully, RAW has three difficulties total (Easy, Normal, Hard). You'll have tons of lands to explore and the game actually has a twist to it that makes you retread through all lands. Each stage looks unique however, so you're not going through the same stages over and over again.

The graphics are pretty good overall for a downloadable title. You'll travel through a great deal of different lands with varying enemies. All stages have background objects such as trees or mountain ledges that hang out from the side of the paths. This brings me to one flaw with the game however - there are often some portions of the background that will cover up your character and the enemies. The game will switch to a transparent view where your character and the enemy glows a purple color through the background object, but it's still a bit hard to tell what is going on. The background objects can get in the way about once per stage at least. The objects look nice, until they start to intrude on the camera angles. The music and sound seemed fitting. The game has several epic scores of music in its soundtrack and the voice acting is quite good for the little voice acting that the game has.

Realms of Ancient War was an overall fun experience, but there wasn't much to do after the game was beaten. The game clocked in at about 10 hours total for me, so it did offer up a good amount of time for a downloadable title. The game is nothing new at all for the hack and slash genre - it feels like a throwback to the days of Gauntlet Legends overall. Some people will find it as a repetitive hack and slash RPG and some will find it addicting. I actually found it quite fun and it's one of the better downloadable titles out there, but I can't deny that it does little to stand out from the crowd of hack and slash games that are currently available.

The Good:
+ Fun and addictive hack and slash gameplay
+ All three characters feel unique overall

The Bad:
- Background objects can get in the way often
- About half of the skills are the same per character

Final Rating: 75%. A decent hack and slash RPG that does little to stand out from the rest of the crowd, but it's still a fun ride while it lasts.