The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
After your life is destroyed and you are left for dead by the malicious Count Shax, a sorcerer named Roth teaches you the ways of powerful magic and gives you the tools to seek your revenge. The setup is as cliché as it gets, but luckily there’s plenty of interesting gameplay in Lichdom: Battlemage. Think of a first-person combat game with customizable spells and the loot/boss structure of Diablo, and you have a good idea of what to expect.
The base level of difficulty is quite challenging, and players may struggle until they begin combining magic, leveling up base sigils, and crafting new spells. Thankfully you continue to grow in power and collecting loot even as you die over and over at the hands of the enemy swarms and bosses. There’s a bonus for staying alive as well; the more checkpoints you can get to without dying adds to the rarity of the loot you collect along the way. You’ll eventually come away with sacks of loot, all of which can be broken down for materials or applied directly to existing sigils to craft new and powerful magic.
Crafting is at the core of everything that happens in Lichdom, and you can either stick with the tried and true basic spells like targeted blasts and area-of-effect spells or move into far more interesting fare like the potent lob. The system is incredibly deep and should keep players concocting new things all the way into New Game Plus. If you’re looking to make some crazy spell mixes, optional challenge rooms are dotted around the world that provide a glut of quality materials.
In addition to your ever-growing arsenal of magic, players must use dodges and shields to get by. The basic form of protection is a timed maneuver; if you can time your block with an opponent’s attack you unleash a powerful retaliation with your active magic. More advanced shields and modifiers allow players to do all kinds of interesting things, like teleport and unleash strikes at the point of materialization.
Combat is smooth and responsive, but I found myself falling prey to “backpedal blasting” at several points throughout the game, simply retreating backward while chaining control and damage spells. It’s something everyone has done from time to time in first-person games while seeking cover, but it feels awkward and out of place here in light of the mostly frenetic combat.
Lichdom: Battlemage is an interesting and enjoyable take on first-person fantasy with lots of customization to dive into. I’m hoping this initial effort leads to an even more polished sequel for Xaviant down the line.
Email the author Daniel Tack, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.