SweepingsDemon
 
 
I always like to try new things. Message me if you want to play something in my library together, or even if it's not in my library. Odds are I'll either have it on another platform or consider the purchase.
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14.4 Hours played
I am very, very torn on this game. I frequently am a big fan of games with controversial material/mechanics or an interesting world or premise, so I ignored the mixed reviews to see if I would be similarly enamored with this game. The short answer is no, but I will endeavor to further qualify my opinion.

My first playthrough was on the Hawk difficulty (Normal) and I maxed out the Warrior stance tree while upgrading a few Pyromancy abilities. It took me close to 14 hours over two extended play sessions to complete, and I did the majority of sidequests (except for one I failed due to a scripting event, one I failed due to a dialogue decision and a couple which just never spawned for me) and got 68% of the achievements during this run.

Some notable positives about the game; The gear customization is pretty neat, although the fact that stats are tied to the cosmetic options meant I spent a whole lot of the game with "____ of the Griffon" slapped on to armor and weapon pieces. I got very used to seeing those pieces. There are unique weapons to find as well, and they're pretty neat. The strategic layer required by combat is neat as well; most arenas (not all) have bits of the environment that are used to bait/funnel enemies and maximize trap effectiveness or allow for a quick spot of healing. Crafting can be performed mid-combat if you run out of potions or whatever and you can make raw ingredients out of gold if you happen to run out. The gunpowder trap is my best friend. Enemies can damage each other as well, which is a nice touch. A lot of the companions are tropey but I did end up being fond of 60% of them. And the whole premise is that you turn into a demon (or don't), which is neat. Everything after this point is either negative or mixed.

Initially I was quite impressed with the combat system; it reminded me a lot of the Witcher 2 actually, though a bit less polished. Laying traps and timing parries feels good. The area attack is useless in my opinion. The stealth doesn't seem to be worth much either, though I never put enough into the ranger tree to see its full potential. Pyromancy is integrated with any build as support abilities or additional damage, and it synergizes well with the story. New enemies/attack patterns are introduced at a decent clip, although there is one boss you have to fight five times, one boss who becomes a standard enemy later, and a miniboss that was just a modified normal enemy. Outside of these encounters there are three other boss fights which are decent for the most part. Sort of.

The biggest and most obvious problem with the combat isn't mechanical; it's a balancing issue. The first boss fight of the game presented a steep challenge; I then died a couple times to a pack of basic enemies in the next area. Enemies are frequently grouped together in large numbers with disparate unit types attacking at once from multiple directions. Certain enemies have different health pools or damage resistances dependent on their physical size, which isn't immediately obvious as it mostly occurs at the end of the game and the differences aren't immediately apparent when they stand next to their default cousins. Bosses and enemies in general take so little damage at times it feels like just dealing chip damage to a dark souls player hiding behind their shield... constantly. There are massive spikes in difficulty at seemingly random intervals where the game throws you into a completely new situation without giving you any opportunity to retreat or visit a shop; the worst of these is at the final boss fight, which is itself gated in a separate worldspace that prevents quicksaves, which is gated behind the second to final boss. It might be different for players who picked non-warrior disciplines but I had a very difficult time marrying that boss fight to the rest of the game mentally, and I spent at least an hour just on that fight. These sudden spikes (especially that one at the end) make me wonder if the game actually got playtested, because a couple of those spikes are surrounded by absolutely trivial content where the difficulty drops out from under you and you just get bored.

Even though I just lambasted the difficulty curve of the game, I was having a fantastic time until the end of Act 2 (there are 3 acts); then everything started to fall apart for me. Multiple dialogue trees bugged out; I received some information out of order which spoiled certain aspects of the story, people just stopped talking suddenly and left me with no idea what I had just agreed to do, and worst of all a romance scene did not render properly, with absolutely no context being provided after the clip for what I was intended to see, and no accompanying dialogue to explain the aftermath. An npc bugged out preventing me from turning in a quest as I could no longer activate him. A couple enemies got stuck in an infinite respawn animation once and started phasing through walls and the floor. NPCs frequently teleport and stand ramrod straight during cutscene transitions, even if they're dead/lying down/otherwise occupied before the transition. Then I was treated to what I thought was the final boss (it wasn't), before a companion permanently disappeared. When I did actually fight the final boss, it was visually appealing but incredibly difficult in the first stage (which is also the third stage). The second stage was much more fun but was also incredibly simple to cheese. The end of the game comes down to a mass effect 3 style choice, only you don't get to pick the polar opposite of your current alignment, and you don't get to see anything about the actual affects on the world or find out what happened to your companions. It just cuts to credits.

Maybe sometime if I'm feeling incredibly self-flagellatory I'll play through it again on a harder difficulty for the achievements. Normally I couldn't even imagine playing through it again with the mess that was the third act, but during that incredibly difficult final boss I discovered something.

The effect of gunpowder traps stack infinitely. Game of the year.

(Seriously though... I recommend this game only if you really, really hate yourself or you're fascinated by the premise/combat. If you're coming here looking for a good story you won't find it.)

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