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Written by  :  Steve Hall (352)
Written on  :  Apr 13, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Diablo meets Hexplore. Stunning looks, simple and fun - just don't take it too seriously.

The Good

Firstly, it looks absolutely superb. Personally, I'm more interested in how it plays than how it looks, but this game is simply breath-taking. Sure, if you get close you'll notice that the characters and critters are a little simplistic, and some of the textures are a little repetitive, but the overall look of the game is stunning. The transitions between outside and cellar actually took my breath away - honestly. Plus you also get gently falling snow, sunbeams in the caverns, accurate shadows of the characters, and so on. I love the way the trees fade away to let you see through them when your guys get close.

After you get over the look of it, you'll find that there's a competent if simplistic hack 'n slash underneath. Most reviewers seem to like comparing it to Diablo and Baldur's Gate, but I think Hexplore is a better comparison. BG is a little too involved, a little too serious. This is far simpler, like Hexplore with less puzzles.

The story-line is not too involving, in fact you could describe it as optional. You collect books on the way which you can read to flesh out the story. Or you can just charge through and hit everything that moves. A nice touch.

I can't really comment on the sound and music. I always turn music off in games, and I have the sounds low enough so I can still hear the TV. Yeah, that's right, it's one of those games. Wind down after a hard days work with Dungeon Siege and endless repeats of The Simpsons.

The Bad

It's very linear. You start the story on your farm and head off to the nearest town. You naturally follow the path, but if try to wander off you'll realise that you can't get very far at all. There is the occasional small area/dungeon to explore and loot, but you can complete the game fine without ever leaving the straight and narrow. If you imagine the third area of Diablo II (the swamps) and you'll get the picture. Also, even if you read the "optional" story-line, you'll see it isn't up to much. It's there, but it's not why you play the game.

Another thing I didn't like was the lack of an overall map. There is a map function, but it's really only a top-down view at far zoom. While this is fine for basic navigation, if you get lost (very hard to do) or think you've missed something (quite easy) there's not much you can do about it - you'll just have to wander round or re-walk everywhere and hope.

The Bottom Line

If you liked Diablo, then you'll probably like this. The same goes for Hexplore. Forget the comparisons to Baldur's Gate and other RPGs. This is not an RPG game. It's a pretty-but-dumb-hack-'n-slash-adventure. And that's all. Don't take it too seriously and you'll have a lot of fun!