Gameplay / combat
Lichdom: Battlemage is an action RPG where you control a single character from a first person perspective. You are a badass mage on a personal revenge quest and you've got a wide range of spells to choose from.
You've got traditional fireballs and AoEs as well as grenade like "lobs" and "rays" that are short range constant beams. You don't have any melee weapons but you can block, and if timed correctly, this will trigger a "nova" which damages everything in a radius around you. There's also a very useful dodge move. There is no mana limit or cooldowns so you can cast as frequently as you desire.
Each of these spell "shapes" can be given an element which identifies the basic damage type, but also has unique bonus attributes. For example ice can freeze your enemy, lightning can chain its damage to other nearby enemies, and kinetic can hold an enemy in place. And this is just a small selection - there are several others to choose from. Its kind of like the magic equivalent of Borderlands' guns.
Enemies include Human warriors and mages, undead archers and powerful demons. Many of them have access to the same range of spells as the player, as well as special abilities that allow them to shield allies, summon minions, teleport behind you, slow you, freeze you and more.
Lichdom is approximately 25 hours long and is heavily focused on combat, but with such a wide variety of spells and enemy types, there's a fantastic tactical depth and I honestly never got bored.
Level design is mostly linear, but many of the areas are quite wide so it doesn't feel too restrictive. You have room to approach enemies from different angles and plenty of objects to take cover behind. There aren't any side quests, but there are some hidden areas branching off the main path where you can find challenge rooms - kill multiple waves of enemies to be rewarded with lots of loot in the form of spell crafting components.
You gain new spells by crafting them. Each spell requires an element and a shape, and these components are rated from "common" and "rare" to "epic" and "legendary". More powerful components have bonuses to damage, critical chance, casting speed, etc. Sadly I found the crafting system to be very confusing. Whenever I tried to manually create a new spell, it was always weaker than the one I currently had equipped ... even if I was crafting with top tier components. So after a while I just let the game automatically upgrade my spells when a better version was available.
Its not as detailed as most RPGs, and the player doesn't have any control over dialogue, but there are a few interesting characters. I especially liked the interactions between the two heroes, Dragon and Gryphon, and two villains, Hedaro and Hedira. There is some excellent voice acting from the likes of Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect), Troy Baker (Bioshock Infinite), Gina Torres (TV's Firefly) and Jaime Murray (TV's Defiance).
Lichdom uses Cryengine3 so as you can expect, the graphics for environments and spell effects are gorgeous. However, its also quite demanding in terms of PC spec.
I'm running an i7 2600K at 3.4 Ghz, 8GB ram and a GTX 770 with 4GB Vram - well above the recommended specs listed on the Steam store page - but I can't maintain a constant 60 FPS on maximum settings (very high) at 1080p. The early areas seem fine, but after a few hours I started to encounter fights with lots of enemies which killed my framerate. I hate screen tearing, but with Vsync on I was getting dropped to 30 FPS.
For the last few hours I've dropped everything down to high, and enabled adaptive Vsync in Nvidia control panel. Its still not perfect, but performance has improved, and it still looks pretty good. I'm not saying this as a massive critisism, it hasn't hurt my enjoyment of the game too much, its just really a heads up to expect to have to do some tweaking.
I haven't suffered any crashes or noticed any bugs. Controls are fully rebindable and work great with mouse and keyboard.
If you're a massive RPG fan like me, I recommend buying Lichdom at full price. I don't like using numbers to review games, but lets just say the 69% Metacritic average shown on the store page is too low.