by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Mediterranean scenery (cont.)
The game uses CPAL3D, an engine that includes the renderer, AI and sound processing. The developers are thus free to concentrate more of their effort towards the sound and graphics design and actual gameplay rather than worrying about the limits or extra development required by the underlying engine.
In Numen, the hero will encounter many enemies familiar from mythology, including the medusa, minotaur, harpy as well as some new or less known creatures or people, such as damned Nubian warriors, forest people, mad followers of Hephaestus etc. While trying to complete the main quest and all the minor side quests, the hero will encounter these enemies and fight them with whatever means necessary. Some monsters have weaknesses to certain types of weapons, so the player must think and select the correct strategy to vanguish each of them. These methods may include the casting of a spell of silence to stop the enemy from casting spells, or using a special sword combo to inflict extra bleeding damage etc.
The variety in the enemies and their strengths and weaknesses forces the player to be active during the battles, to plan ahead and to choose the correct enemies to stun or incapacitate first before paying attention to the rest of the attacking horde. All in all, the developers promise that the battles will include more tactics and strategy than you usually see in hack'n'slash Diablo-alikes and the style approaches more of that of World of Warcraft when played solo.
As the protagonist vanquishes enemies and solves quests and puzzles, he or she will also gain experience and level up, as they say. The hero has some basic attributes, such as intelligence, strength, dexterity and so on that increase as the levels are gained. At each level, all these attributes increase a little automatically, but the player is left with the choice of increasing some attributes more than others. These attributes affect the hero's skills, but the skills also advance on themselves, based on how much the hero relies on them – therefore, as you use your bow, you archery skill will increase accordingly, but if you never draw your sword, you will not gain any new expertise in it.
Planning for longevity
Several points of what is known of Numen at this stage, point to the fact that the developers seriously want to create a game that is not just played through once and then forgotten to gather dust on the bookshelf. For one, the player can choose a very different playing style depending on the god that he selects at the beginning (as well as the choice between a mage, a warrior and a hunter) because of the different sorts of spells and abilities that this choice unlocks. Second, there is randomly generated content in the form of side quests, as well as static side quests, that make the game different every time you play. Third, some of the weapons and armor that you may find in the game only appears when you play the game on the second difficulty level, which unlocks only after you've completed the game once on the first level. With a total playing time of some 30 hours, the game allows for a relatively quick play-through, so you may even have the strength left to try it again immediately afterwards.
All in all
Numen seems like a very promising action RPG based on what we know at this point. The Greek mythology and world is mostly an unexplored area when it comes to RPGs and the eternal strifes between Greek gods will probably offer seeds for many sequels, if the first game finds its target group.