Monday, 10 February 2020

Warhammer: Chaosbane ★★★★☆

As a child, I used to collect Warhammer and I used to love painting the tiny figure, melting polystyrene with liquid cement to build decaying castle walls, and enacting battles all by myself. This is because even in the world of socially awkward teens I was socially awkward and could rarely find anyone to play with. Warhammer Chaosbane, a pretty solid Diablo clone, lets me re-experience that feeling, by having a satisfying single-player mode, and either a terrible matchmaking system or a huge lack in other people wanting to play with me. Sigh. Just like old times.

I played Chaosbane as Elessa, the not-too-posh to-mosh wood elf with a hunger for vengeance, a thick (and very fake English accent) that is so adept with bows and arrows that she could skewer Robin Hood, Legolas and Hawkeye through the brain before they had the chance to do the arrow- through-the-arrow thing that they love. 

The plot of Chaosbane is not wonderful, it had the status effect of boring me to death slowly like a poisoned Cox's Pippin, and I am lore hungry most of the time. I found myself listening to French History podcasts instead of paying attention after Act II, and French History isn't something I give an old merde about. However, if you like isometric Diablo-em-ups AND love Warhammer lore, then this might tickle your testes a bit more firmly than it did mine. 

The graphics are very gorgeous and the gameplay though addictive was not cynically done, it didn't feel designed to keep me addicted like Candy Crush is, more like it was a solid bit of game and I wouldn't mind going back for more. Which by coincidence, is exactly how I feel about your mum. Some of the skills I developed over time were ludicrously fun to perform, and maybe this is because I've been playing a lot of retro games recently, but the lack of frame rate issues while throwing a Robert Welch around me, killing a million orcs and gretchins in the process, was lovely. 

The acting, the music, the plot and the standard enemies are lacklustre and functional but nothing memorable. The 'rare' loot appeared so frequently that I got a trophy for fully kitting myself out in rare armour in just a few hours, so it would have been nice to have an element of challenge here, as no reward ever felt like a reward. 

A lot of the mechanics were closed off to me until later in the game and I'd been pointlessly collecting these Jolly Rancher looking things for three acts (out of four) before being able to use them to upgrade anything. I also ended the game (that I sped through) at level 43 and it has a level 50 cap, so it's not gonna force you to grind but it did leave me feeling a little short-changed.

The gameplay and the bosses, however, are fantastic, the bosses are a mixture between a standard RPG bastard and a Bullet-Hell twat (thanks to Skyforce for the training) and though they boil down to "Avoid the stuff and hit the thing", I found them exactly as difficult as I would have wanted them to be. 

I could talk for days, or 717 words at least, on the weak points of Warhammer: Chaosbane. If I'm honest I think its a great game, though I'm not really sure why. The four acts that make up the four very endlessly traversed maps are functional and the boss rush, expeditions etc. are not enough endgame for me. However, as an isometric dungeon crawler, it was a wild ride, and it isn't even a full-price game. 

For the time I'm willing to put into a game that is outside my preferred genre, the 10 hours or so was enough, and I feel like Warhammer fans will be glad to see the first good Warhammer game since Shadow of the Horned Rat on the PSone whereas Diablo fans would love this to bridge the gap until they make a good one again. 

Overall, if you're staring at your box of Diablo 3 sandwiched between Sacred 2 and 3, and you want something new that is basically exactly the same but not quite as good, Warhammer: Chaosbane, is worth your time. 

David Roberts

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