Hunted: The Demon's Forge

A New Look At Hunted: The Demon’s Forge
by Jeff Cork on May 04, 2010 at 04:00 AM
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Release: 2011
Rating: Rating Pending
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

InXile and Bethesda first announced Hunted: The Demon’s Forge a few months ago, and it garnered a mixed reaction. In the latest presentation on the game, InXile’s founder, Brian Fargo, revisited some of those initial takes on the game by mentioning a few of the nicknames the gaming press gave the game after its debut, including Gears of WarCraft. Fargo took it in stride, saying that the purpose of this updated demo was to show off some different areas and to fend off some of that initial criticism.

Like Gears of War, the game is a third-person action game with an emphasis on co-op. Players choose either the melee-focused Caddoc or his bow-wielding partner E’lara as they scour the lands for treasure, danger, and more. The first demo had a few elements that were reminiscent of Epic’s sci-fi shooter, including squealing guitar riffs (which have apparently since been removed) that sounded when rooms were cleared of enemies. This latest look at Hunted showed that some may have been a bit rash with those comparisons.

We start the demo in a jungle clearing. We don’t know exactly what happened before we arrived, but we can assume it was something big—and deadly. Skeletal remains are strewn and heaped across the ground, and a particularly huge specimen (a dragon?) is collapsed atop the foliage. We forge ahead, finding a mysterious green skull. E’lara is apparently the more inquisitive one of the pair, and seconds after spying the creepy artifact she picks it up. Bad idea. A voice intones that evil forces have been unleashed, and that the duo had better start moving if they want to survive. As they sprint toward what looks to be a ruined temple, giant stone formations collapse around them.

Caddoc and E’lara reach the temple area and scarcely have a moment to breathe before the area fills with animated skeletons. A pair of gargoyle-topped spires blasts beams into the ground, and the boney creatures erupt from the earth and begin their attack. E’lara’s bow thankfully ignores genre traditions and packs quite the punch against the undead enemies. She takes on the skeletons from a distance, taking cover and picking them apart before they get too close, while Caddoc lunges into battle and starts smashing them apart. Before too long, a skeleton takes control of a mounted crossbow, which fires explosive bolts at the pair. Regular attacks don’t seem to do any damage, even with E’lara’s zoomed in sniper view. Caddoc uses his fire attack on E’lara, imbuing her arrows with a flame effect. That seems to do the trick, and the nuisance is dead in no time flat.

After firing at a couple of ropes and lowering a platform, the duo gains control of the giant weapon and shatters the enormous statues. Once they’re both destroyed, the skeletons stop regenerating. Whew.
Co-op is a central part of the game, and having characters with such different skillsets forces players to work together. E’lara can freeze enemies, for example, leaving them vulnerable to being shattered by Caddoc’s bashing attacks. E’lara can also detect hidden doors and passageways that Caddoc has to open by sliding heavy obstacles out of the way.

As with other dungeon crawlers, exploration is another focal point of Hunted. Players can split up and discover new areas and optional quests that often hide new and more powerful equipment. In the demo Caddoc learned of a powerful ax that was sealed away by a series of unlit braziers. Once he found the area, a series of well-placed arrows lit the torches and a hidden walkway opened up. If that puzzle was any indication, they aren’t likely to drive many players online for solutions, but they could be a fun way to break up the action.

Our adventurers next explored a network of dark tunnels, filled with crank puzzles and waterlogged passageways. Players have to work together to survive their way through the claustrophobic maze, though they will split up on occasion to solve some of the tasks. The demo ended with a glimpse of a towering spider boss, though it ended before any blood was drawn.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is shaping up to be its own beast. It’s not often that players have the chance to play co-op games in a fantasy setting—particularly in dungeon crawlers—and it’s a welcome change of pace. We’re definitely excited to learn more about the game in the coming months.