Combat encounter in the Perished Land.
The plot borrows heavily from other sources of fiction, it’s easy to see the influences from Tolkien specifically. The villains however lack any motivation or if there is one it is never explained. Just the standard fantasy villains: orcs, dark elves, and a demon possessed mage. The heroes are also far from perfect which makes the setting nice, one of the twins Boindil has issues with rage, often time going berserk in combat. You later learn that he killed his love in during one of these berserker episodes, a plot point which comes up later when you are questing with her father, Bavragor the drunken stone mason. In this setting it works, but if you're a fan of fantasy nothing here will be new short of the names.
The game play is the biggest issue, being a tactical real time combat system with a pause feature. While this combat is a standard feature in computer RPGs here it has one glaring issue. Every attack or ability has friendly fire, combine this with maps that have bottomless pits or environmental hazards and you will find yourself restarting battles over and over. No quick save option and minimal checkpoints also means that restarting is frequent. This tends to break up the pacing of the game, as some missions have urgency and repeating a difficult section breaks immersion. Combine this with random difficulty spikes and you have a combat system that on any difficulty except easy kills you for anything less than perfection. The non-combat sections of the game play out with an over world that has nodes, some nodes have encounters that trigger when stop on them and others have question marks indicating a quest. The nodes with encounters have choices, but choose carefully the incorrect choice often leads to your death with no warning or indication of the choice being risky.
Before every encounter there is a pre-combat menu which lets you select up to three party members which will work with Tungdil. From this screen you select the skills you would like and one item or piece of equipment to be used in combat. From this menu the relationship information for other party members can also be seen. Higher relationships increase the likelihood of gaining action points when a favored ally gains action points. Some items you can select from this menu are magical items that go on a cool down, others are elixirs or bombs which are consumed.
Pre-combat menu where you set party members and items.
During combat you have to carefully space your units so they don’t hit each other, yet are unable to get surrounded by orcs as being surrounded will lead to probable defeat. Keyboard controls are fairly standard for this type of game. Keys 1-4 select your party members. They have three abilities that they can use in combat which are bound to 'Q', 'W' or 'E'. Each character also has one item or piece of equipment that can be used in combat which is bound to 'R'. All abilities and equipment costs action points, you regen action points periodically but also gain one when an enemy is defeated. However unlike most games of this genre you can move the map by holding down the middle mouse button which allows viewing of objectives from different angles. This does allow for a more tactical approach, specifically when orc archers are raining down arrows from a location that cannot be seen due to the camera positioning in relative to the selected character. Unfortunately the keys cannot be rebound for this game from either a menu or an ini file. For any PC game this is a huge problem, choice and flexibility is one of the staples of PC gaming and the developers failed here.
While paused you can queue up abilities for your party members to all perform simultaneously.
The music is the standard fare that has been associated with high fantasy RPGs since their inception, orchestral sweeps with plenty of lutes and woodwind instruments. However like with the story it sounds like a generic fantasy sound track. There is one quest where you can unlock the Blind Guardian, hearing a song from the German power metal band Blind Guardian. Beyond that the music isn't overly special. The sound effects themselves for the weapons and attacks are average. In all there is nothing special about the scoring or sound design of this game.
Elven village which the alfar destroyed in the first act.
Visually the game looks great, the maps are bright and colorful, with varied environments ranging from open fields to gloomy forests, the frozen lands of the firstlings and the desolated land of the fifthlings near the Perished Land. The Unity engine is used to great effect here to render the scenes. Not the most visually stunning game in existence, the art style and use of color create a charming world.
One of the objective based encounters, all four party members need to reach the end or you fail.