InXile’s dungeon crawler is not a 10/10 game – not even close – but when Skyrim reminds me of Hunted: The Demon’s Forge (as it does frequently), I find myself smiling. It’s another of my recommendations from 2011.
You can play either as elven archer E’lara or burly warrior Caddoc, or play both co-operatively either online or via split-screen mode. Tip: E’lara is a much more satisfying character, allowing you to take down enemies from cover and finish them off with your blade. Both characters technically have that ability – since Caddoc also wields a crossbow – but my husband and I tried both characters and much preferred E’lara. There are also some nifty spells to increase damage from arrows or blast your foes from range.
In a sense the game is reminiscent of Torchlight (albeit TPP rather than isometric) in that it is just shoot-and-loot, and the plot and characterisation are cursory at best. There’s star support from Xena‘s Lucy Lawless as scantily-clad spectre Seraphina, but the main voice actors are laughably atrocious and more than once we found ourselves shouting – in response to “what shall I spend [this gold] on?” – “acting lessons!”
Where the game comes into its own is in the dungeon design. The levels are frequently beautiful to look at, and the puzzles are just the right side of fiendish. It takes a little while for the game to reach the more interesting parts, so bear with it (the first level is not very interesting at all).
There are many flaws, such as tedious boss fights and getting stuck in scenery – the “mixed or average reviews” Metacritic rating is not unwarranted – but the good parts of the game make it definitely worth acquiring in the sales. I’ve had a lot more fun with Hunted than I’ve had with “better” games, and I’m more likely to return to this than many 10/10 rated titles.