Review: RAW – Realms of Ancient War

Here is my latest review, Realms of Ancient War.  Check it out.

Platform: PC (Steam), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Reviewed by: Jonathan Bester

Developed by Wizarbox and published by Focus Home Interactive, Realms of Ancient War introduces us to a fantasy world, called The Continent. Currently in conflict, four kingdoms have been thrown into disarray after mysterious happenings occur surrounding a peace treaty at a neutral area, leaving one of the kings missing in action, while the other three return home, devoid of emotion, and rendered listless and uncaring. The kingdoms are thrown into a state of turmoil which leads to an era of chaos and general rebellion.

Realms of Ancient War, or RAW as it is more commonly known, is an action adventure game akin to such titles as Diablo and Torchlight. It hearkens to the classic days of point and click hack-n-slash with looting thrown into the mix. At the start of the game you are given the choice between 3 playable classes, who are not only stock standard, but not very customisable to begin with. These classes consist of the Wizard, heralding from an area called Mausoleum Ruins. He is a ranged fighter, focusing on magic use to deal attacks with devastating consequences. As a result of the amount of damage he deals, he is balanced out with light armour. Next up is the barbaric Warrior, resident of the Coastal Village area. With a focus on melee combat, the effective attack range is quite limited. However, he has a trigger that when he is severely injured his damage increases. He is the only class that is able to wear heavy armour. Lastly, we have the Rogue, a stealthy and versatile class, with an efficiency in daggers, bows and leather armour. It is encouraged to begin an attack from range, and then get in close and finish off an opponent with your melee class weapons.

From the get go, you are introduced to a very familiar input interface. Point and click your way through the levels. Attacking, looting and conversing with NPC characters are all controlled by the left mouse button while a heavy attack is bound to the right mouse button. Special abilities are controlled via four of the numerical key buttons at the top left of the keyboard, however not all of them are available at the outset of the game.

As you progress through the game, you gain experience, which is subsequently converted into levels, and for each level gained you are granted one skill point, which of course is mappable to your character’s skill tree. At this point however, the problems in the title becomes apparent. There is major lack of customisation in your character, which had already become clear even before the game is started. The skill trees are limited and does not leave much to the depth of the game.

Another problem I was faced with was how completely unbalanced the game felt. It literally does not matter what difficulty level you choose, you will be slaughtered. Whether it be by spiders, or some or creepy crawly. You see, RAW works with a system akin to titles from the 90’s, whereby you are allocated a number of “soulstones” which is basically your lifeline. Every time you die you are returned to a waypoint, and one of your soulstones are removed from your inventory. You can only carry a total of 9 soulstones at any given time, and trust me, you will be burning through them quicker than you can even count to ten.

Looting is an absolute mess. Tying in with the experience system, you will notice that virtually no experience is given for killing monsters, whereas, killing other enemies will net you a surprisingly high amount, which is utterly confusing. Additionally, you will notice that the majority of loot drops are mediocre, even while looting chests. Putting the metaphorical cherry on the cake is the utter lack of any sort of map system. I blindly ran around in the wilderness trying to find my way into any semblance of a story. Not even being granted the ability to possess certain monsters managed to cheer me up while playing the game. It all just frustrated me to no end.

One of the game’s only redeeming qualities for me was the graphics. You can truly see that the developers spent a lot of time creatively building this world. The environments are beautifully rendered and eerily spooky at the right places. The art style reminds me of an era in gaming where you would sit and stare at the screen in wonder at what has been presented before you.

I am a huge fan of any sort of fantasy, and one of the main reasons for this is the music created for this medium. Very little games, or even other forms of media are capable of creating music that not only fits the mould for the genre, but enhances it to such an extent that you sit in awe as you partake in the fruits of the developer’s labour. RAW is one of those titles I am happy to say. The score is absolutely beautiful and I loved what the composers did with it. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of any dialogue and this was a huge let-down for me. In order to truly immerse a roleplaying gamer in a world such as was created here, you really have to go the extra mile in order to captivate him/her. I just feel that the developers could have spent a little more time in this department as it could have possibly saved the game from the mediocre slump it finds itself in.

The Conclusion:
I don’t know where they went wrong with this title. With the prologue you can clearly see that the creative drive was there during the outset, but when you physically start playing this game it quickly becomes apparent that the game is mediocre at the most. Its only redeeming qualities are its hauntingly beautiful graphics and its pure fantasy soundtrack. It is also unfortunate that this title is lacking is any sort of audible dialogue, but this could have been a redeeming quality for an otherwise lackluster title.

The Verdict:
Gameplay: 5/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 6/10
Value for Money: 5/10
Lasting Appeal: 5/10

Official ITF Rating: 5.8/10

Courtesy of ITF Gaming

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