For a game that I had 0 hype for and wasn't even on my radar, it's shocking how let down I was by Lichdom. The concept really grabbed me. I love wizards and the idea of a game that could really let you cut loose and let you wreck havoc with its entire focus put on making you feel like a mighty wizard among mortals seemed like exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, you'll quickly find that the game's definition of "badass wizard" is extremely narrow, and even worse, they really don't deliver.
The game brags having thousands of spells, and while that may be technically true, it rings hollow. Spells are crafted by combining elements that you unlock through the story and spell modifiers that drop as loot, so you have potentially infinite combinations on paper. The result however is that you have 3 spell types with a million permutations that only change a few decimal points are on the numbers that pop up. Elements are meaningless, just pick what particle effect you want on your projectiles. If you were expecting some real magic, like summoning dogs, lighting them on fire and throwing them at your enemies, you will be sorely disappointed.
The gameplay is where things really grind down though. The levels are just corridors a mile long with the only interaction being busting up the game's equivalent of decorative vases. The enemies are mindless and predictable, and so is fighting them. You walk into a clearing, combat music plays, a bunch of skeletons pop up out of the ground, walk backwards and throw ice/fire/lighting balls at them until dead. As said before you only have 3 real spells. A basic fireball in whatever flavor of particle effect have on, an AOE attack/bomb in whatever flavor particle effect you have on, and a block that does damage if you time it right. In whatever flavor particle effect you have on. The enemies have little variation either. Melee guy that runs up and slaps you, ranged guy that throws ♥♥♥♥ at you, and sometimes theres a ghost that floats around and freezes you. Expect to see groups of about 8 of them pop up every 15 feet, about 30 times a level. No puzzles, no talking and investigating, just walking from one fight to another. The game promises dungeons and quests made specifically for a wizard, unhindered by needing to allow warriors or barbarians through, and all I could think while playing it was how much more satisfying it would be bashing skeletons to pieces with a hammer than dealing with the game's slow clunky combat casting.
The gameplay honestly just feels like skyrim's magic. Hold down button to charge fireball/aoe, point at enemy. Except in Skyrim you could dual wield magic. And you could summon creatures. And you could cast enchantments on yourself. And you could summon magic weapons and slash and smash enemies if you wanted. And there were more than 3 kinds of spells. And And And. The list goes on. When a game focused soley and entirely on one thing can't even do that thing better than a game that really only includes that thing in an ancilliary manner, you've got a real problem. Skyrim is NOT the best game to experience being a wizard, yet Lichdom has chosen to emulate its combat system more closely than any other game I can think of, puts its entire focus on that one aspect, and frankly only improves on it by a degree of maybe like, what %5? If that? But guess what, skyrim isn't 40 bucks, and it's got an entire everything else going for it.
Lichdom has some things going for it, it looks good and It's got a good working loot system. It's not painful to play or anything, but it isn't great, and above all else, it's not what it promises to be. It doesn't make you feel like you're an almighty wizard any more than sweepng the driveway will make you feel like a bulldozer.
Tldr: lichdom falls short of everything promised. Weak magic, repetitive gameplay, tiny scope. If you want to feel like a real unstoppable wizard, play morrowind and craft fireballs the size of cities. If you want frantic action with an interesting spell casting system and cathartic blow stuff up fun, play magicka and trap your friends in bubbles full of landmines and zombies.
Posted: August 29th, 2014