Hunted: The Demon's Forge
An extremely linear hack and slash / cover based shooter in a fantasy setting with bows and magic, originally devised for co-op play but I played it in single player mode (and co-op mode apparantly needs fixing these days). Made by Brian Fargo's inXile, but under the guidance of Bethesda as publisher, and from what I gathered, Fargo wasn't very happy with the game. I wouldn't call it a very good game either, the lukewarm reviews it got do have a point. Nevertheless I enjoyed playing it, and I thought it was worth the few bucks I paid for it in the Steam sale.
What you can expect from it is mostly combat similar to Mass Effect, without any noteworthy RPG elements. There is an upgrade system for your skills, but it's weirdly balanced, in that during the first two or three chapters of six, you'll already get enough points to upgrade anything, even the skills you're not using that much, but then you have to wait until you get to chapter five before you're allowed to unlock the highest tiers of the skills (which cost 4 times as much, but even if you'd save enough points, you can't unlock them earlier, and that makes your choices rather meaningless).
There is some exploration with tiny side quests and secrets to find, but it's not that much fun, since you're so limited by how small the areas are, how there's only one way and everything else is blocked off, you can't jump, you can't pass the smallest obstacles, and the game is constantly shutting doors behind you (literally and metaphorically), preventing you from going back if you missed a secret, so you have to be wary about going ahead too quickly. Also, while there are some clear signs for points of no return, once you've understood how the game works, on other occasions there is no way for the player to foresee them. In addition to that, there is only one autosave, so everything you miss is gone for good until your next playthrough (if you ever feel like replaying it). The game also has two different endings, and it's very easy to get the bad ending, even by accident (good thing there's still YouTube!).
Add to that those NPCs talking to themselves constantly repeating their text, so that you might hear the same sentence every 5 seconds or so if you're near them, or that lighting can be weird and make the game look a bit drab at times, or that the AI of your partner is perfectly able to simulate a co-op player snatching away stuff that you meant to pick up yourself or standing in your way, but often fails at reviving you when you're down. If you must, it's safer to die close to your partner, because they won't come running across greater distances like your RL co-op buddy would do ... Well, you get the picture.
Despite all that, it was hardly ever frustrating to play, and I was motivated to always "just play a little bit more" until it was over (~12 hours?). The normal "Gamer" difficulty was quite easy, and I thought it was fun just to run and 'gun' my way through the dungeons and fantasy landscapes with a pair of sexy anti-heroes constantly teasing each other. Kind of a guilty pleasure, I guess. What's odd is that in an interview, Brian Fargo said that inXile had no say in the voice-acting, and he seemed dissatisfied with that, while personally I thought the voice-acting was one of the better aspects of the game (it's worth it just for Laura Bailey!). So yeah, this was a game that's neither very interesting in terms of gameplay, nor really all that bad, if you're just looking for some mindless b-movie entertainment without too many frustatrations. Not sure if I'd recommend it, but I kind of liked it myself, despite better judgement.
Post edited June 27, 2016 by Leroux