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. The crafting system is tricky: a lot depends upon your ability to analyze the spell components, understand the way they work, and pick up those that would make the spell the most efficient. Thus, your work on the spells should be scrupulous and meticulous. Certain people fail to understand that, and it's rather funny to see them complaining that enemies are too strong, spells are too weak, and they can't just come through the whole game with one set of spells they created at the very beginning.
Speaking of which, 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 both crafting and management of spells: you can't combine two different kinds of shapers or effects, for example, or have two single-target spells in one set. Still, I think it's fine the way it is.
People criticize Lichdom
for making promises about thousands of possible spells that come out to be not entirely true. There's a bit of marketing manipulation in that, indeed; it would have been more technically correct to speak of hundreds than of thousands. The arithmetics is as follows: 3 types of spells - 3 ways to attune them - 7 main types of shaping - 8 basic sources; that's 504 in total. Also, unique and extra-strong synergy spells can exist between the basic sources, adding another 49. The rest of spell variability resides upon random modifications that come up with certain shapers and effects: damage boosts, projectile speed increasers, critical hit chance multipliers etc.
I have also seen a number of reviewers who believed that basic sources ("sigils" by in-game terminology) are all the same and only change the color of projectiles you cast. That's basically a bitter mistake of people who saw the first three sigils and decided that they've seen them all. I feel pity for them, because they will never know that you can hang your opponents in the air and smash them into the ground, summon an army of creatures to assist you, slow the time down, control the minds of your enemies, create black holes that tear them apart, cast meteor showers or whirlwinds of fire and ice etc. Also, each sigil is suited for a certain purpose, so by means of careful and skilled attunement you can create incredibly powerful spells. What do you think of killing the main endgame boss with all his monstrous health in a couple of minutes?
CryEngine obviously is not designed for open-world games, so this 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.
There's also been a lot of criticism for repetitive gameplay. As one person had said, "you just travel from one pack of enemies to another". The trick is that Lichdom
is a shooter (as I've just said), and any shooter can be called repetitive. Games of that genre are played for the action and for the process of killing enemies standing in your way. Take Crysis 2
, that are built upon the same engine, as an example. Can't you say that it's travelling from one bunch of CELL soldiers or cephalopods to another? Meh, you can even call Half-Life
repetitive: "oh come on, kill some headcrabs - solve a puzzle, kill some zombies - solve a puzzle, repeat ad nauseam".
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.