Review: Three Things You Need Not Forget When Vacationing: 1. Lock the house. 2. Lock the garage. 3. Lock the realms. Otherwise, heroes could just prevail wherever they feel like. Stupid heroes, thinkin' they could just...
If you can see it, if you can feel it, if you can sense it's there, there is a fine line that separates console gaming and those on the PC side of the scale. Console gamers can most certainly be PC gamers, and PC console gamers. You can be a player of a single system or many. It's a choice of preference anyone can choose, and yet, there still remains a barrier between the two gaming formats. When you look at PC titles, you see a whole load of Massive Multiplayer RPGs, Real Time Strategy games, and First Person Shooters. These are generally the most anticipated titles on PC every year. Not sports, not survival/horror, not even a traditional turn-based RPG. PC gamers know what they want, and they want a certain style most of the time it seems. Some quirky, Japanese puzzlers or platformers do not quench the thirst of these people. It's a more highly advanced, realistic and seriousness that get PC gamers' juices flowing. No kiddy stuff here -- just brutal authenticity. And that's okay if you're into that sort of thing. Compared to console gaming it's different. There's more variety on that side of the table than there is on the PC half. Real, silly, you name it, they've got it. For years, the console half has gotten its fair share of PC ports and the like. One such title that's come over from that portion of the library this year is a hack-n-slash franchise that's Atari's newest rendition in the alternate chapters of the Dungeons and Dragons series, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone.
Long ago, the world was on the brink of chaos. A pair of demon rulers, one Githyanki General named Sereka and one Slaad Lord named Ygorl, was both locked in battle with one another in the deciding fate of who would be the one to trample over the pathetic mortals beneath them. For whoever won, the rest of the world would become theirs to annihilate. That was until a powerful wizard by the calling card of Blackstaff came along and entrapped them inside a Demon Stone forever. But as everyone knows, forever only means until a certain point like when three new heroes emerge, meet, and all of the sudden unleash the demon powers that be by accident. Rannek, a fighter looking for a purpose after whose village was torn apart by trolls; Zhai, a mixture of an elf and drow rogue, who ran away from her village; and Illius, a sorcerer that was outcast by his family when choosing the path that did not follow their heritage's teachings, has led all three of these skilled warriors to meet in battle. When realized their destinies were aligned to confront one another, that's when they choose to dig into and inquire about the mysterious forces that have bound them together -- now on a new journey to recapture the demonic masters that they have set free.
Any way you look at it, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone is a hack-n-slash styled action game. I don't know if I'm the only one who feels this way, but it's kind of like the hack-n-slash genre died off years ago. There's no doubt that games are still made rehashing the format's repetitive practice. It's just that it seems like a tired routine, doing the same kind of attacking and enemy patterns over and over again. But then that's where hack-n-slash titles have survived -- because developers try to push the wheel with these games. A few times they'll succeed, where other times you'll rarely notice the lot of them draw great praise. Off the heels of their The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers video game, developer Stormfront Studios' latest crack at the genre is a little something different. It's an idea that not only gives you three different characters to work with in conjunction, but also tons of environmental puzzles to work with, against, and around.
Throughout Demon Stone, for the most part you'll always have the fighter (Rannek), the rouge (Zhai), and the sorcerer (Illius) by your side. You control one of the trio, and the computer inherits the rings of the other two. Switching amongst the three is made easy by tapping on left for Illius, up for Rannek, and right for Zhai. By selecting each character and studying their range of abilities, the game gets more interesting when you approach a mission that asks that you complete puzzles based on one or more of the character's unique attributes. Spanning 10 levels in all, there are many elements placed in every one of these separate quests that has you deducting a way to balance yourself between the heavy combat afoot and the barriers you need to pass in between. Recognizing the array of limitations that each character possesses is the first step to going about that. Rannek is the strength. One who is a swordsman, Rannek is the source of force in this party. Zhai is the all-around type. She's not the strongest, but with her dagger wielding and throwing acrobatic self, she's kind of the in-between individual. Illius is the glue. Like an adhesive agent, you can't have swords and sorcery without sorcery. Where Rannek and Zhai perform best with melee combat, Illius naturally associates with his staff's ranged magical reinforcement best. But if you're thinking this is a game where you're only going to be sticking with your favorite the whole time, you've got another thing coming.