There has been a resurgence of the dungeon crawler genre with some heavy hitter sequels releasing on the PC this year in the form of Diablo III and Torchlight II. Realms of Ancient War, hoping to entice fans of the genre on consoles as well as on the PC with impressive visuals and massive amounts of enemies charging at you on-screen. pressive graphics and massive amounts of enemies charging at you on screen at the same time.
As you start you are giving the choice of three traditional fantasy Action RPG character classes: warrior, mage and rogue. The traditional nature of R.A.W. doesn’t offer much that hasn’t been seen before. The story plays out as you must become the savior of a thrust into chaos. It’s quite barebones, but does an adequate job to keep things moving forward.
Making your way through each area, enemies will swarm you until they are the only thing you can see on screen. The action never lets down as you are continuously moving forward through each area. With no way to block or dodge attacks, you only use offensive strategies to attack head-on or try and use guerilla styles of attacking and running away. Special attacks break up the constant button mashing to attack, but with no option to continuously attack by holding down the button. You are going to be doing a lot of button mashing. Moves that use up your mana help to take down enemies faster, but are considerably weak until they are upgraded. One of the Warrior’s move in particular attacks multiple foes at the same time while knocking them back. Foes will teleport into the correct position for the animation of the attack and will literally slide backwards after the attack.
Gaining the ability to hop into some of the larger enemies – not to far into the game – almost feels pointless. You can use the added strength from the possessed body to help take out enemies faster. The ride doesn’t last long however; usually not even long enough to walk across the screen. It will keep you alive a little bit longer, but not much. In R.A.W.you will die…a lot. Slicing away at all manners of skeletons, goblins and spiders it is tough to tell when you are making contact and when an enemy is close to death. It’s strange, because attack numbers will appear as well as a hit indicator that looks to be straight from Tekken, but it is still almost impossible to tell who or what you are hitting when you are being attacked by hordes of enemies.
Don’t even get me started about the spiders. If a horde of spiders are coming for you, only trouble can come from it. Since they are so small, it is hard to tell the difference from an attacking spider and an already dead one. The frustration doesn’t end there as you should be prepared to die quickly and frequently. As your health drops rapidly, you will die before you even realize you were taking damage. With a limited number of lives, if you run through all of them you are forced to restart the area without any of the spoils from the previous runs – what fun.
Weapons and armor can be found from looting corpses as well as from merchants scattered throughout the different areas. Gold seems to be on the lighter side, forcing tons of grinding to acquire new gear. The new abilities that are earned from leveling up thankfully do help to flesh out the combat and help deal with some of the tougher foes.
Outside of throwing tons of enemies on-screen and utilizing some impressive looking but small and non-interactive environments, there just isn’t anything that stands out. It’s an average game with a substandard experience. Co-op gameplay could have been the savior of R.A.W., but instead it adds to the overall frustrating experience. With the only option to play locally; it’s a feature that may not be used at all especially since the second player’s progress isn’t saved. Like trophies or achievements? The second player won’t receive anything for their hard work. Thanks.
R.A.W. leaves a lot to be desired especially playing by yourself as it is a frustrating experience. With co-op feeling more like an afterthought there’s nothing to keep you playing after the 7-9 hour experience is over. The difficulty is all of the place with sections being easy followed by an impossible amount of hordes. Everything appears small and with no zoom to remedy the solution.Note: Realms of Ancient War was reviewed on Xbox 360. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.