Hunted: The Demon's Forge Review

By Jonathan Deesing - Posted Jun 15, 2011

Hunted is a title for gamers who can turn off their brains and enjoy smashing some ugly baddies in the head. It's a lot like crushing a bug with a shoe: it isn't pretty but it gets the job done.

The Pros
  • Classic RPG elements that carry over to both game types
  • Auto-aim makes bow and arrow combat sleek and sexy
  • A personalized dungeon creator
The Cons
  • Massively steep learning curve
  • Repetitive hacking and slashing
  • Thick English accents are almost impossible to understand

Hunted: The Demon's Forge Review:

A cover-based, hack-and-slash fantasy epic. Seriously it doesn’t even make sense, but for some reason it works. Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is not going to win over any gamers with its graphics, gameplay or even its story; however, as a mindless weekend hack-and-slash, it’s rather enjoyable.
 

 

A Semi-Truck Or A Porsche

Hunted has been pushed as a co-op game first and foremost, but it’s okay either way. I played about half of it with a buddy, and while playing with friends always has the advantage of, you know, human companionship, the AI isn’t impossible to play with. In fact, whereas neither I, nor my friend, boosted each other initially, the computer I played with was frequently powering me up during battles.

Probably the most intriguing aspect of Hunted is the choice between characters. It’s basically two different games. One is a cover-based shooter with ranged weapons varying in strength and advantages. The other is a hack-and-slash slaughterfest with no use for cover. Caddoc, the strong (obviously male) character is a grizzled Vin Diesel clone with a mace for a brain and an obligatory English accent. He exists basically as an aggro-whore, usually right in the middle of the action smashing craniums and providing a distraction in order for E’lara to line up a shot.

E’lara (complete with unnecessary fantasy apostrophe) is an artist with a bow and much more fun to play with. When hiding in cover, her accuracy increases and features a snap-to auto aim that makes using a bow and arrow feel much smoother and more natural. When running around, blind firing will generally shoot an auto-aimed arrow at an enemy depending on if you’re facing them. Combined with a fast bow, this adds an almost movie quality of a sexy elf launching countless arrows without hesitation into the faces of various creatures. While this may make using a bow sound easy, it isn’t. You are constantly being mobbed by hordes of skeletons and unnamable creatures and finding time to shoot between dodging and rolling is a challenge.

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What really makes both characters fun though is the interplay and support available. Different spells work in tandem with one another, and playing selfishly will leave you stuck on the first level. Caddoc and E’lara can boost one another’s abilities, often turning the tide of a battle. Caddoc can enchant E’lara’s arrows to explode enemies on contact and E’lara can do the same to Caddoc’s blade. In one instance, Caddoc lifted a slough of enemies in the air and I shot each one with an ice-enchanted arrow like a shooting gallery. When Caddoc let them drop, they all shattered and then we high-fived. Okay that last part didn’t happen, but you get the gist. If you don’t work together, you die alone. And working together is fun.

The game utilizes a health meter instead of regenerating health. When your character runs out of health vials, he/she is at the mercy of the other player to throw a vial. This at-a-distance revival makes for a smoother experience that doesn’t require players to stop entirely what they are doing and run over to save someone else’s ass.
 

 

Who Am I?

Hunted does a terrible job of explaining itself. The learning curve is stupid-steep and the game manual is no help. Tiny lights on the top of the screen are the only indication of whether or not you have extra health potions, and in reality, I wasn’t even sure I could carry extra items until I started to pick them up. The button scheme is difficult to get familiar with and the game goes from marginally easy to quite difficult in no time. However, once I got past the first chapter, it became much more playable. I still didn’t know what the hell was going on, but I was relatively familiar with how to kill and what to kill.

But this didn’t mean it was any easier. At one point in the third chapter I had died so many times on the same checkpoint I had to put down my controller to keep from throwing it. There are times in the game where there are more enemies than health, and only by sheer stubbornness was I able to get through them.

The story is equally obtuse and only toward the end did I start to get a grasp of what I was even doing. I quickly grew sick of trying to translate through thick English accents what everyone was blathering on about and had to turn on the subtitles. The long and short is the E’lara and Caddoc are selfish mercenaries that end up getting talked into saving a world of unpronounceable cities.
 

 

The Good, The Bad and The Stupid

There certainly are some stupid features in Hunted because it tries to do too many things at once. Cinematic finishing moves interrupt gameplay, aren’t actually helpful, and don’t look good. The game also has a number of checkpoints a la Resident Evil 5 at which characters have to open doors together or jump across a small gap at the same time. But there are some equally cool features such as the separate puzzle rooms that reward curious gamers with awesome new weapons.

Changing weapons is key. Each character can get either a fast, medium, or slow main weapon; each with varying strength. Special weapons are much stronger, but once their enchantment wears off, they become debilitatingly weak. Sometimes I would walk confidently into a battle with a kickass magical bow and if the battle lasted longer than expected I was left with a worthless peashooter. Shields are similarly interchangeable, but degenerate over time. This isn’t shown on a meter; rather, you can actually see holes and chips develop during battles. Another decision I had to make was whether or not to drink a mysterious liquid called “sleg.” The liquid made me godlike but left my partner struggling to survive an onslaught as a mere mortal.

It also includes classic RPG elements such as leveling, money and skill trees. Further, your character’s abilities in the single player game carry over to co-op and vice versa. The other thing crammed in is a dungeon creator that allows gamers to create their own dungeons and battle waves of custom-designed baddies. It isn’t Gears of Wars Horde Mode, but designing my own waves and loadouts did have some appeal.

 

 

A Dull Axe

Hunted luckily doesn’t take itself too seriously. After opening the umpteenth door together, E’lara mused “how do people that come here alone get anywhere?” And what it lacks in gameplay, graphics, and story it makes up entirely in cleavage. No seriously, there are a lot of boobs. Hunted shamelessly dangles a sexy elf in front of us, and it’s not all bad. Some of the tumbles E’lara does over cover do look sort of elegant. In one part I was doing multiple back handstands away from a rampaging witch and Caddoc came running in from the peripheries to slam her with his sword, saving my scantily-clad ass. It looked freaking awesome. Further, while you may grow tired of the same enemies and the same hacking and slashing, the environments are about as varied as it gets. You’ll never feel like you’ve seen the same place before.

Hunted is not pretty, it’s not a game-changer and it isn’t going to inspire any fan fiction. It tries to do way too much at once, and doesn’t do much of it well. This being said, I will admit I had a really good time playing. Is Hunted a good game? No. But it sure is fun.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?