Hunted: The Demon's Forge First Look

InXile looks to bring back the classic dungeon-crawling experience in its upcoming cooperative fantasy action game.

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The founder of InXile Entertainment, Brian Fargo, kicked off the presentation for Hunted: The Demon's Forge at the Bethesda Gamers Day by talking about how he wanted to bring back the old-school dungeon-crawling experience that initially began with Dungeons & Dragons. He noticed that the genre had evolved into something more action oriented by the '90s and said that, "dungeon crawling is about getting lost." With that in mind, InXile has been working on Hunted for the past two years, which is a cooperative dungeon crawler that encourages exploration fused with third-person combat.

The game's story follows two mercenaries, E'lara and Caddoc, who are off on an adventure primarily for fortune. When we learned that Caddoc had a vision of an ancient artifact, our first goal was to see about that artifact. You can play as either character, swapping between the two checkpoints that come up in between areas. Because the two character's fighting styles are very different--E'lara is more of a ranged fighter with her bow, whereas Caddoc melees with an assortment of large weapons--the experience will be unique for each character. Our demo began by leading us through decaying ruins, overrun with weeds and rotting corpses. The view was spectacular, though, as E'lara paused to take a closer look at the majestic waterfall that was cascading in the distance. They soon stumbled upon a death stone--an ancient artifact that gave them to power to communicate with the dead. This started a series of events that involves running as fast as they could to avoid being crushed by crumbling columns while fending off undead skeletons that were being revived by stone gargoyles.

Hunted is a cooperative experience (no split-screen unfortunately), so we followed E'lara in the first half of the presentation to see how she handled the undead with her bow. As the silver-haired elf, the game is like a third-person shooter, where you zoom in over the shoulder and aim with the target reticle that appears onscreen. E'lara can handle smaller melee weapons as well, but her strength is in the bow, and it's more efficient to just stick with her realm of expertise. Caddoc, on the other hand, is better with any kind of sword, mace, or club, so playing through the game wielding a sword is more like a third-person button masher. Whether you play with another human or the AI, though, your partner is there to back you up when you need it by charging you with spells, helping you get through heavy doors, or lighting the way ahead. The game's cooperative experience was described as "co-op at a distance" where you don't necessarily have to be holding hands throughout the game, but you can help one another from across the area.

The two companions have access to spells and can help each other by battle charging the other to imbue him or her with magic. Working together also has its advantages, as E'lara can use her ice bow and freeze enemies while Caddoc can destroy them with a single swipe of his mace. On the flip side, Caddoc can use levitation with his sword and suspend enemies in the air, allowing E'lara a chance at target practice. The pair will banter on and off to give you a sense of their relationship, which was described as "a brother-sister relationship with sexual tension but not incestuous." Their chitchat will also give you an idea of what to do next. If you find an area where you'll need Caddoc's strength to get through, E'lara will make it known that she needs his help to continue, and vice versa. Using the death stone, you can learn more about your environment through the voices of the deceased. In our demo, one spirit told us about an axe of a fallen king that was hidden somewhere nearby. We were given some vague instructions, as well as a riddle, but that was enough to get us to wander off the main path in search of a better weapon for Caddoc. There will be puzzles to solve as you continue to explore the interesting environments, ranging from a cluttered battlefield to an underground cavern. The areas looked fairly large, but we were told that the paths can be narrow, so even if you do break off and wander away from each other, chances are you'll easily find one another again. In one area, a key was lighting the braziers in a particular order with E'lara's fire arrows, and in the next underground dungeon, it was a matter of finding the right switch to clear a path. At any point, you can listen to the dead spirit's voice again, in case you've lost track of what you were supposed to do.

Battle charge your companion to give them a boost in a fight.

When playing with friends, you can have them import their own characters or play as one of yours. The crystals that you earn, regardless of whose character you play as, are yours to keep when you return to your own game. The host keeps the crystals for that character as well. Crystals are the currency in the game that is used to upgrade your spells and abilities. The developers wanted to encourage people to play together, as well as reward those who play cooperatively.

Hunted: The Demon's Forge looks to have a good mix of exploration (much of which is optional) and combat to encourage teamwork with a friend or even an AI counterpart. The game has been compared to Gears of War before, and at some points, it feels that way when you're taking cover to fire at waves upon waves of enemies. The music picks up and the mood becomes more intense to correlate with the action onscreen, but it dies down as soon as the rush is over. The enemies that we came across primarily consisted of skeletons that sounded like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, but at the end of the demo, we came across this giant spiderlike rock creature, so we're curious to see what other strange beasts exist in this fantasy world.

Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage on Hunted: The Demon's Forge as the game is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2011 on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

Discussion

89 comments
RaZoR_RaiN
RaZoR_RaiN

This is the worst sales pitch ever! This guy couldn't convince an alcoholic to accept free beer... Not having split-screen for this game is a fatal error in my opinion, and watching this interview was like watching a beautiful corpse float down the river.

Auberon13
Auberon13

I agree this should have split screen. Still gonna wait for it, though. And it is wonderful that some company still dedicates itself to building a playing experience that can be enjoyed in single player, no MMO or such things. I would certainly refuse to play it if it had a multiplayer focus, as so manu games tend to have these days.

Night1107
Night1107

Those of you as disappointed as I am about no split screen check out this site: http://www.co-optimus.com/ it is solely dedicated to supporting coop gameplay and you can search for games that have the specific cooperative components you know and love.

Night1107
Night1107

How do you make a game focused on Cooperative play and not do split screen. I'd take split screen over graphics any day. He used a terrible example of him playing with his wife and wanting to switch characters... I guess he's got 2 systems and 2 tvs to do that in his house. Flaw in your logic their buddy.

Dead_pan
Dead_pan

I would have gotten this just for the abilty to sit down with a mate in my own house and play through. Really disapointing that its another online co op. Got no real reason to buy now.

hewoks
hewoks

I would play the hell of this game. But my principles just tell me to boycott those idiots who won't let people enjoy a game with their friends sits together on a couch. Someone will have to do something about this one day. All those great multyplayer experience ruined by the fact they want everyone to have their own copy if they want to play with their friends.

cpinheiro2
cpinheiro2

"Whether you play with another human or the AI, though, your partner is there to back you up when you need it by charging you with spells, helping you get through heavy doors, or lighting the way ahead. The game's cooperative experience was described as "co-op at a distance" where you don't necessarily have to be holding hands throughout the game, but you can help one another from across the area." Finally, Isn't it a 2 human players coop game mode? I mean, 2 players in the same system? What a shame.

Doolum
Doolum

something to look forward to

websrfr
websrfr

Glad to see the someone is making an effort to bring back the single-players games. Just not a fan of the MMORPGs.

ThePurpleBubble
ThePurpleBubble

@kickerdobrasil Sad but true... What ever happened to plopping down on the couch with a friend and playing some split screen mario cart or whatever? Now the only way to play with friends is to make sure they also own the system in question, and to make sure they also own the game in question (and in the case of the 360, make sure they also are connected to the internet and have an active subscription.) Its a little saddening, really... and it makes me feel a bit old, actually. That said... it actually looks like a pretty decent game - provided the gameplay is deeper than "hey, kill these guys... okay, swell... now go to this next room and kill THESE guys..."

kickerdobrasil
kickerdobrasil

man, split-screen is just disappearing... this is the sad proof that we're going into a "virtual friends only" world

predcon1
predcon1

I was impressed with Brian Fargo's work, from The Bard's Tale on the Amiga to the modern (i.e. 2004) incarnation of the same game. I'm sure this will kick just as much ass.

kaychun88
kaychun88

Really have my fingers crossed over this.. definitely we need gameplay video to know more about this game!

Shinkada
Shinkada

This sounds like it might actually have some diversity. As opposed to Diablo 3 which will, inevitably, just like Diablo 2, be a mindless grindfest with precisely zero strategy. I dunno if this'll be good, but it's certainly got more of a chance at it than D3.

Aryonas
Aryonas

I'm a fan of Fantasy, but I am certain the gameplay in this will be sub-par.

Ascension84
Ascension84

My partner was a fan of dead rising, not so much myself but i will kee an eye on it, never know it might change my opinon.

havocmerc
havocmerc

I'll still end up playing it anyhow.

ekultus
ekultus

@Ascension84 Dead Rising 2

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

Might be good; as long as there are really unique play-styles to each character; and of course as long as it's not just a fantasy Army of Two [not that it would be bad if it was]. No offense to the game, but the guy talking about it didn't seem very good in front of a camera, or at describing the details of the core game itself - it just felt messy to me.

gremoserio
gremoserio

if u want a real kick ass dungeon crawler wait 4 diablo3, i don't say this game is bad but d3 it's an another planet totally

-Deimos-
-Deimos-

Doesn't look like anything fantastic really.. just being honest here!

-Deimos-
-Deimos-

Doesn't look like anything fantastic really.. just being honest here!

Ascension84
Ascension84

My partner and i were really looking forward to being able to sit down and playing a new game together, and this one was looking really good. Now we will have to keep an eye out for something else.

Adema83
Adema83

@Raisiine I have to disagree with you there because it works fine for me on my PC in my living room hoked up to my plasma, i just use wireless keyboard/mouse or a 360 controller.. The same effect better community..

Shyljo
Shyljo

I have to agree with Valengar,nowadays exploration is stupid.What happened to the good old days when there wasnt any game wikis and you actually found awesome equipment lying in the woods in a god forsaken land behind swarms of creeps?

Raisiine
Raisiine

@Daian but a pc cannot make up for sitting in the sofa with your friends drinking beer eating chips and pizza or whatever.. with pc you just cant do that.. it doesnt have that feel to it you know what i mean?

dakan45
dakan45

I have to admit that know that i know what exactly it is about, i am not that impressed anymore.

bokela
bokela

Looks interesting. Worth tracking.

PyroGhozt
PyroGhozt

"InXile looks to bring back the classic dungeon-crawling experience in its upcoming cooperative fantasy action game." Caption is a lie. Please fix. Should Read. "Inxile looks to create an action game with RPG elements that only supports 2 player Co-Op with no splitscreen" Here I thought I'd found something to play while I wait for Diabloo III. Oh there is no split screen because we really want to MILK IT "cough" I mean make the graphics as best as possible? Amirite?

nmc1987
nmc1987

Typical NO SPLIT SCREEN. Seriously what is the point of owning a console any more. They used to be about playing with people next to you. Thats what seperated them from BUYING A COMPUTER! At least this new Lord of the rings war of the north game coming out HAS SPLIT SCREEN! hopefully that games actually ok though.

Argle
Argle

"a cooperative experience (no split-screen unfortunately)" .......wow, really?

Uprain
Uprain

I don't care about graphics, what we need is more games whit split screen

TamaRock
TamaRock

No split screen, but is compared to GoW, which had split screen... Hmmm, ok, so will it play like Baldur's Gate? I'm a little confused.

Schym
Schym

Well it looks interesting at least. Gameplay vids would be nice. @ABakedAlien: yeah i wanna see TESV too, but while this may be bethesda I don't think it would really affect them if TESV was even in production...

ABakedAlien
ABakedAlien

I want Elder Scrolls V, not this crap.

Sebadonut
Sebadonut

"a brother-sister relationship with sexual tension but not incestuous." Now thats some murky chemistry.

tobelight
tobelight

"shoulder shrugg" could go either way ... confused at the Gears comparison since its not FPS . I dont know .. think ill be too busy with FO New Vegas to give this much attention .

Folleyrules
Folleyrules

"no split-screen unfortunately" You just lost me "compared to Gears of War" Gear's had split-screen

papalente
papalente

@ Chronikas Why this penny didn't drop in my mind sooner I do not know! Damn good point. I like the look of this game though, but I swear to the gaming god, in another life I would have been a games developer focused solely on making awesome modern action adventure local co-op games. Maybe I still have time... :)

bad_trip2
bad_trip2

Its the obsession people have with graphics that destroys many abitious game plans. I'd rather couch co-op with a friend in a pac-man setting than fight in heaven with an a dumb AI.

ConjurNez
ConjurNez

leadwriter sounds like an idiot. Anyways game looks like it have a lot of potential/ amazing gameplay value. no splitscreen though :(

ConjurNez
ConjurNez

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

valengar
valengar

I am more interested in why to explore. Is there going to be some kind of weapon upgrade system or something more to find rather than scenery? Exploration can be fun but let me find something. Also it really does seem online connectivity/LAN only. The way he talked about graphics and co-op at distance probably means that. It is a bit annoying, but I guess we will have to see how that works.

EvaUnit02NZ
EvaUnit02NZ

Don't be dense by jumping to conclusions, people. Just because there's no splitscreen, doesn't mean that there's no local MP and that it's exclusively online. The classic Golden Axe didn't have splitscreen either and that was designed around local MP. Other notable examples are Contra and Gauntlet.

Chronikas
Chronikas

they don't care about us dude, why splitscreen when they can make both you and your friend both buy a copy?