by Richard Edwards
previewed on PC
In a year that has given us games like Torchlight II and Diablo III people might be wondering if there's enough room on the market for another game of this type. Well – R.A.W. will be trying its best to find a place in the action fantasy role playing game genre. You can play as one of three classes and battle hordes of enemies who want nothing more than to stop you entering the next room. Wizarbox are hoping to make a name for their new game by taking a more direct approach than others in this genre by placing emphasis on direct action over role-playing mechanics. It still has an experience system, and player classes, but combat looks a lot more visceral.
The classes seem somewhat generic but they do cover the basics of all fantasy games. If you feel like fighting in close combat there's a warrior who lives on the edge. The closer to death he his the stronger he gets. Anyone playing a warrior is going to be all about walking up to the enemy and making sure that any blow they deal is a deadly one. Next up is the wizard. I believe the technical term for this class is 'Glass Cannon.' A guy who can deal a large amount of damage but take barely any in return. (When will Wizards start carrying shields...?) Finally, there's the rogue. This character is a bit of a mix of warrior and wizard. The close combat melee skills are augmented with a few ranged attacks. Unfortunately, this means that the character won't have a lot of survivability. So if you're feeling lucky you can get in close. Either that or stay back and play it safe. It's up to you.
But what if you can't decide on your class? What if you want that slow, hard hitting fighter but also the rogue's versatility? Then two player mode is for you (and a friend.) The multiplayer is going to be a drop-in / drop-out experience. The players will be tethered with a camera, which makes sure people stay together. While this could lead to frustration as players want to go in opposite directions, it's also going to ensure there is tight co-operative gameplay.
So far, so generic. I have to admit it took a bit of research before the original gameplay mechanic reared its head. That gameplay is the Incarnation system. Some of the bigger bad guys can be turned into something that the player can actually use. That's right – you see that troll over there? There's a good chance that you are going to be able to use its body to run around in. Once you incarnate as the monster you get the speed, the strength and the abilities of your current host. Once the fight is over the poor creature gets its well deserved rest. After it explodes, of course.
By incarnating as a creature you get a short burst of power, perfect for getting through that extra hard challenge. The trade off is a simple one. Once the monster explodes it will take its treasure with it, meaning that you'll lose out in the long term. If you're the kind of person who will go to any lengths to collect shiny loot then maybe the Incarnation system isn't for you. It's for the people who want to turn into a large monster and turn the enemies' biggest weapons against them. It's all about the payback.
Men, Elves and Dwarves have divided the land into four kingdoms – four kingdoms that now lie in ruins. As far as story goes it's something that might not grab attention, but that's the point. The developers have already said that they want to make sure that the storyline is something that provides reasoning for the gameplay mechanics. So the storyline is going to be something that makes sure the gameplay logic stands up to scrutiny. No wondering why you're doing what you're doing – the story is simply there to explain it away. The King of The North has asked that you open four portals that will save the world from another war that's threatening to break out. The legions of 'Nothingness' – that's what they're called, I checked – are decidedly evil, having killed everyone that's been dispatched to check on these portals. The reason the name of the Big Baddy caught me by surprise was that by what we've seen, the player fights so many enemies it's hard to believe they would ever be described as “Nothing”. Regardless, this is the story that will take the player through four very different kingdoms. The developers have already promised to have more varied locations than any other game on the download market so it's fair to assume that these kingdoms are going to be very interesting. And they do look visually stunning.
Bearing in mind that the story is there to serve the gameplay, it's important to note that Wizarbox have said that they hope to have a well written game. You might come to this looking for a lot of action role playing but you may be leaving with a deep storyline as well. Given that the company are best known for their adventure games – a whole genre that revolves almost entirely around storytelling – it doesn't seem too much of a stretch to believe that they're going to pull off both a practical and entertaining story.
All this... And it's downloadable
The game is coming to Xbox Live Arcade, the Playstation Network and will also be offering a PC download. This is one of those titles that will hopefully make it big on all three platforms and become a very big name. A new IP is always going to be a good thing and hopefully this game can breath fresh air into this ageing genre.