Hunted: The Demon's Forge Updated Preview: The Crucible

We try out the co-op fantasy action game's create-a-dungeon mode.

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In our previous looks at Hunted: The Demon's Forge, we covered the vast differences between the melee-focused Caddoc and the ranged expert E'lara as well as their story mode co-op exploits. During a recent Sony media showcase held in Singapore, GameSpot Asia managed to check out the PlayStation 3 version's other game mode, where players are able to make their own dungeon romp.

In an attempt to add longevity, developer InXile created a game mode called the Crucible. Here, you can play either solo or co-op on developer-created dungeons with names like "25 Room Hell" and "2 Many Minotaurs" or create your own gauntlet of doom. Users are given a 5x5 tileset to work with, where they can create up to 25 arenas and modify the properties of each of them. The properties available for tweaking are the theme and landscape; the enemy types that spawn and what each wave of them contains; the modifier slots that determine the combat conditions of the selected arena (like a time limit, damage increase, or unlimited arrows); and the loadouts available before entering the arena. While there are many options for each of these properties, you can unlock them only with gold amassed from the story mode. If starting from scratch does not work out, you can just hit the randomize button and change things up from the given template.

Don't tick E'lara off: she can shut fools up from a mile away.
Don't tick E'lara off: she can shut fools up from a mile away.

For our custom dungeon, we chose to have just two arenas due to time constraints we faced while at the Sony event. One of the dungeons was set in a barn area, while the other was set outside a blacksmith's shop. Each of these arenas spawned spiders and skeleton soldiers; other enemies available when unlocked included goblins, orcs, and minotaurs. The only weapons available at the time were the tutorial weapons; Caddoc and E'lara had access to basic swords, shields, and ranged weapons.

We played both the pre-created dungeons and our own two-arena hellhole, which we randomly named "Barricade Berserker Arena." The former dungeon was filled with all manner of teleporting wargars that could fling magical projectiles, armored wargars that rushed in at every opportunity, and a few minotaurs that could do an area-clearing hammer smash and a charge. Seeing as the controls and magic took some time to get used to, we lost during the third dungeon. Meanwhile, GameSpot Asia's own dungeon was a breeze, since we had to kill only spiders and skeletons with our puny weapon set, not to mention the fact that health and mana potions were plentiful in every corner.

Since most of the available options were locked, we couldn't determine if every map theme type would be different level-design-wise. At this point, it's safe to say that there were some differences in the layout: the barn theme was a wide-open space, while the smithy theme had a centre platform with a lot of raised pavements that acted as makeshift cover where E'lara could camp and shoot arrows to her heart's content.

What stuck out during our playthrough, however, was the lack of a drop-in/drop-out option. You will have to quit to the main menu and either restart from the checkpoint of the story mode or restart from the beginning of a Crucible dungeon siege to get your buddy to join in. Navigating the Crucible option is cumbersome. We had to scroll through each arena property in order since there wasn't a shortcut to jump to a far-end option. We also couldn't determine the length of the pre-created dungeons available to us; an option to put in a summary of what to expect would have been nice. There was neither an option to adjust the layout of each theme, nor a way to determine what a particular theme's level structure looked like.

While it's too late for the developers to make these additional changes (it's coming out next week), we still felt that there was some fun to be had from this mode. We just hope that the story mode delivers a meaty experience since the Crucible option seems like a side dish at best.

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