by Chris Priestman
previewed on X360
Strike Me Down, Will You?!
By far the biggest feature of Demonicon is its fast-paced combat system that adheres to the rules of the pen and paper game. This means that fans of The Dark Eye who know the weaknesses and strengths of certain enemies, spells and weapons will be at an advantage when battling in the game. Although it was at an early stage in development, the footage that was shown at Gamescom displayed promise of a tactical hack ‘n’ slash style of combat that drew a good balance between turn-based and real-time combat. A designated amount of enemies are gathered in each room of a dungeon, and the player is tasked with defeating them all before being able to progress to the next room. The developers described it as issuing waves of enemies at the player, catering to a tight combat scenario that is specifically tailored to challenge players on many different layers. Although the combat initially seems shallow as it requires a quota of button mashing, it soon opened up and proved that players will have to think about their approach. First off, players are required to balance their moves due to the expenditure of energy and magic. This will have to be juggled with considering the attacks and movements of the enemies. This will of course be supplemented with plenty of visual cues so that the player is aware of their current situation. For example, some enemies glow when they are about to use a special attack. The 30 to 40 enemy types ranging from fire lizards to zombies will have a number of special attacks on hand, all of which are derived from the Dark Eye universe.
Once the player has fought through a series of rooms inhabited by groups of weaker enemies they will encounter the dungeon boss. Using a combination of melee weaponry and magic will be key to taking them down, so experimenting with different attacks and combinations is essential to learn their weakness and exploit it to the best effect. Each boss also has a certain ability that will cause the player a lot of pain; the demon lord type boss that was shown had the ability to spawn zombies at will. Careless decisions will lead to certain death. The eponymous demonicon will also aid the player as a form of demon energy that the player can channel and use to really dish out the damage when the time is needed. When the boss has finally been worked on enough, a quick-time event will trigger and offer a cinematic finish. The only worry of these combat scenarios will be whether the 8 different location types will offer enough variation, or will just be the same identical environments over and over again. Using the Trinigy engine means that the developers have the tools to ensure that the latter should not be the case, though the results are yet to be seen.
Keep An Eye Out
The Dark Eye: Demonicon will certainly find a following from the fans of the pen and paper original, but it seems a distant dream that the over-familiar formula will be able to excite at a level comparative to The Witcher. Saying that, this is a game that will certainly scratch the itch for those looking for a classic-RPG; unfortunately this is something of a rarity in this day and age. If the effort shown so far is continued and equally dispensed into both the story and combat that the developers are so adamant on perfecting, Demonicon will be worth keeping a dark eye on when it releases around September 2012.