Hunted: The Demon's Forge Review

So how many of you have found yourselves playing a good dungeon crawler and thought, ďMan, this is fun and everything, but I wish it was more like Gears of War.Ē Probably none of you, but someone over at InExile Entertainment did, and after years in development, we have Hunted: The Demonís Forge. This fantasy-themed action/shooter hybrid borrows liberally from not just Epicís soon-to-be-completed trilogy, but all those old school RPGs that had players wandering the landscape in search of new items and enemies to slay. The real focus of the game, though, is the co-op gameplay mechanic present throughout the entire title, and despite the gameís often outstanding flaws, it offers enough to somewhat shorten this late spring/early summer game drought for those willing to give it a chance.

Hunted: The Demon's Forge screenshot 1

Hunted: The Demonís Forge has a lot going for it Ė at first. The game sets up its emphasis on co-op gameplay right from the start by placing two warriors Ė Caddoc, a muscle-bound melee figher and Eílara, a female elf who leans toward ranged combat Ė in the playerís control. Thatís right; if you plan to tackle this one alone, youíll have two characters to switch between and worry about. If a friend is around with a second controller, things go split-screen, and the game becomes quite a bit more fun. But weíll get to that. Right now, letís talk about all the things that stand in the gameís way of being a great one.

First, Hunted: The Demonís Forge is an inexcusably ugly game. Both Caddoc and Eílara are fairly large presences onscreen, but easily visible main characters is about the only positive I can credit to this one. The environments, enemies, NPCs, all of it is very last-gen in appearance. Even the brightest of textures or surfaces are muddy messes, and visually the game is fairly underwhelming. The rest of the gameís issues come from odd design choices, like the inability to switch between Caddoc and Eílara on the fly or the weird, unwieldy upgrade/inventory/map system. All of these little issues provide the player with momentary annoyances, and pop up so often in-game that it can be tough to count all the little ways the game works actively against the player.

You were waiting for a ďbut,Ē right? Here it is: Flaws, bugs and issues aside, Hunted: The Demonís Forge is an endearingly fun game to play. Hideous visuals and odd design choices seem to melt away once you allow the game to cast its spell. For example, I played most of the game solo as Eílara (the ranged combat feels slightly more solid than the melee). At first, I was too concerned with looking at things like a reviewer; bad graphics, glitches, more linear environments than I normally care for, etc. My mind didnít change on Huntedís low score until, days after Iíd finished it, I found myself picking it back up. Just for fun. It was then that I realized my flawed thinking; it isnít perfect, but how many games do I play ďjust for funĒ these days? Not too many. And that is exactly what Hunted: The Demonís Forge is: Fun.

Hunted: The Demon's Forge screenshot 4

And that should be enough, right? It wonít be, not for everyone. Huntedís flaws, I imagine, wonít be forgivable by a good number of the folks who choose to check it out. For those that can look past the warts, though, a truly fun game exists below the surface here. Dungeon crawling is fun, right? Gears of Warís cover-based shooting is the catís pajamas, correct? Right, and Hunted: The Demonís Forge is the diamond in the rough game of the season. I just hope there are enough of us out there that love it to warrant a sequel; Hunted 2, with a little love, could redefine the genre. Until then, consider giving this one a chance.

Final Rating: 72%.


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