Enjoyable Action/RPG... with a Twist

User Rating: 7 | AVENCAST: Rise of the Mage PC
Mind you, I'm only about 15+ hours into this game, but I've been pleasantly surprised with it, so far.

First of all to one of the things in the game that I've taken a liking to: The controls. In difference to the typical hack and slash Action RPG (a la the 45,000 Diablo clones), this one offers a twist in the control scheme -- Your magic spells are contingent on a key combination followed by a mouse-click. Yeah, I know, it's been done... and in some games it's a real pain in the arse (Arx Fatalis, anyone? That mouse-drawing symbol nonsense wrecked what might have been a decent game there). Anyway, this one is a little different. The game uses a third person perspective with "WASD" movement. The spells all use a successive combination of these specific keys, followed by a left/right mouse click -- no reaching across the keyboard, taking your eyes off the screen and messing everything up. Kind of unique and adds for something a little fresh to the genre. However, not everything "smells like roses" with this control scheme... At least 1 time in 4, the key combination doesn't work... sometimes more often, especially in the case of the summoning spells. These spells require three successive key strokes, and then the mouse click. At least two out of three times, the combo fails. Thought it might be my keyboard, so I swapped it out for a newer one from another machine, and still the same. S'all good...

The rest...

Graphics - C+/B- The overall graphics are so-so... Not great, but not bad. However, the various animations for your spells are pretty sharp.

Sound - C+ I've actually enjoyed the music soundtrack so far, and the ambient sounds are good. However, like others have said, the voice acting is a little suspect. Part of the game takes place in a castle-type environment (the school), and they tried to account for the acoustics in that environment. They've added an echo-effect in their voice. Unfortunately, the end-result sounds like a guy talking to you in a bus station bathroom.

Overall Gameplay - B Combat can be difficult at times, but it is enjoyable. Battles can take some time, but the unique control scheme -- as I noted above -- makes it more enjoyable. While the spell selection is a little limited, combining them makes it more fun: Cast a firewall on that advancing skeleton, and watch him burn... then as he approaches you, blast him back into the firewall with a flaming sweep from your staff. Pretty cool. Your backpack/inventory is kind of small, but I like the fact that it offers more equipment slots than a lot of other games in the genre. Also, while the loot is a little sparse (at least in the beginning), it's good... That belt you just picked up doesn't just offer +1 defense... it also buffs your magic skills, raises your mana total AND adds defense against poison attacks. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the puzzles! The hack and slash is broken up every now and then with some decent little puzzles, which is a great change of pace.

All-in-all a decent little game. Not the best I've played, but still worth a go... Especially since it's on sale on Steam right now for only, $2.49! (Yep, two dollars and forty-nine cents!)