I admire this concept. I was excited by it when I first read the description of Lichdom
somewhere on the Internet. World certainly lacked a game where you could really feel like a mage, casting endless spells and wreaking mayhem around yourself.
You even feel wrong while playing it, because until now, in any other game, this kind of gameplay has only been available through cheating. You are basically immortal (in case of "death" you actually just despawn and spawn back at the nearest checkpoint), you have an abyss of magical energy that never exhausts, and you can just keep throwing orbs of fire at your enemy until it dies. Overall, it's all you could only dream of if you ever chose to be a mage in an RPG. Do you remember how you had to sleep in order to restore your mana after killing every_single_enemy in Morrowind? Feels like nightmare now.Lichdom
makes use of the old principle of making magic that you could find in certain games in the past. You need to 'craft' spells by means of combining certain elements: the basic source (like fire), shaper (like projectile) and effect caused (like damage). Shapers and effects have several levels of strength and can be upgraded to improve them. You can have 3 sets of spells at hand, each set consisting of a single-target spell, a multiple-target spell and a protective spell. Personally I could use more creativity and variability in the process (you can't have two single-target spells in one set, for example - it was so good to cast two lightnings, one from each hand, in Skyrim), but still it's fine the way it is.
CryEngine obviously is not designed for open-world games, so, as some of the reviewers have already noted, the game has a strong resemblance to a first-person shooter where you just follow a wide but still limited passageway. I would have preferred a greater freedom of exploration and probably some other things that might make Lichdom
more Skyrimey as well; but maybe it's not that bad, because you have enough trouble dealing with all those shapers and augments to care about grabbing loot or running around with a map.
I won't be saying anything about graphics here, because again, it's CryEngine. You know what I mean.
You can choose whether you'll play with a male or a female, but there are no editing options for the character. That's not a big problem, because the game doesn't have a third-person view, so you won't really get a lot of chances to enjoy their exterior. I enjoy the female character's voice instead; it's quite nice, and it reminds me of Commander Shepard.
I've said about things I liked and things I'm fine with, now I'll say what troubles me.
The game is still slightly buggy. It's not critical, it won't crash, freeze, or make you lose your progress, but there might be minor issues like character starting to move automatically in one direction with no way to stop it except for exiting to game menu and loading the game again, or birds hanging in mid-air after they were supposed to fly away. It's a new release, though, and probably these things will be dealt with in future.
It also seems to me that spells and their effects are not that action-like. It's a common trouble in many games, and it partially exists in Lichdom
too. What happens if a fireball impacts an enemy and explodes? Yes, your guess was right: the enemy continues to run at you without even losing a step. This is a fireball, after all; it should knock the enemy off its feet and bump it into the nearby wall. If you decide to use a lightning projectile, be ready that your character will cast a slowly flying orb of electricity instead of a flashing lightning bolt. I'd like to see a swifter and more explosive gameplay. Maybe it's a matter of personal taste, though.
the primary positive feature of Lichdom
is its concept to unshackle the mage,
and the primary negative feature of it is that I do not actually feel badass. I feel cool, but not badass.
In general, I like this game, and I support it. To me, its virtues outweigh its drawbacks. If you like the idea behind it as much as I do, if you ever dreamed of limitless magical power, then don't hesitate and get it - it won't disappoint you.