The year is 2014, and the game was released in 2009, this is my first game from the team that made Gothica. Here goes my review.
At first I thought this game was bad it was overly difficult, anything could kill me, anyone i talked to wanted to ♥♥♥♥ me over and/or kill/rob/swindle/convert/enslave me. After some constructive help on forums, I am so freaking glad I followed through on this game, despite the fact I need break mainly because I havent slept in 2 days because of it.
First Graphics, 8.5/10 modern 10/10 back in the day for realism .well you MUST play these graphics maxed out, it's gorgeous. During the day the world is stunning, better then vanilla oir vanilla HD pack skyrim easily. grass physics, water movement,stormy weather physics all wonderful. it really sucks you in, and at night, the fog off the swamps and fields, shadows in dark caves, enemies moving just outside of of a realistic torch range. Shadow casting has saved my butt twice from ambushes, and i ean they were real shadows, like you would expect in real life.
Sounds, 7/10 world feels alive, you have to play for hours and hours to realize some of the noises are recycled, but noise becomes as important in combat as is seeing the enemy, you know when they may pounce or are falsely playing dead to bait you into a pack ambush.
Combat difficulty 9/10 it's not darksouls hard but it's rough. Don't think you are teh dragon born and can suddenly pick up an axe and drop 4 bandits at level 1, see that porcupine, while at the very start of the game you are ♥♥♥♥ed in the ♥♥♥, get to lvl 8 grab some armor, training and PRACTICE PARRY/BLOCK and he won't be such a ♥♥♥♥. Think a lizard man is easy to drop? Well if you let him get close you'll drop you in a hit, 2 if you're lucky, and while you are watching him you neve saw his buddy SNEAK around you and smash your ♥♥♥♥ up. you have to LEARN to fight, learn to engage, do damage at range and switch fighting stances/weapons and styles as they close in. Think you're an all poweful mage dropping an Ash Beast? I don't care if you ♥♥♥♥ thunder and crap lightning as a lvl 30, they have HP and while you damage stopped 2 the third just ♥♥♥♥ed your ♥♥♥♥ up. Welcome to as real fantasy like combat as you'd get with out getting sucked into another dimension. Once your butt stops hurting and you learn how to fight, you'll love every moment of it.
Story seems slow to start, well guess what you are not a chosen one, you are a shipwrecked stowaway with about as much sense, money, power and prestige as a sack of ♥♥♥♥, you have to work to earn, and suck up to get ahead, and when you do you'lll get into the meat of the story where I am now, i really felt like I accomplished something, not just got handed the Hero Sword in a dark cave and was told to save the princess. You come from ♥♥♥♥ and rise to greatness, and you really feel it too, I havent beaten the game yet. I'm 20 hours in and only now beginning to get an inkling of the world. it really is much larger then I originaly though, and it's built to have you explore.
Barring a few quick travels or events, the world has little to no load screens, want to break into the fully scaled town by levitating over the wall to skip the guards, go right ahead. See that mountain top, you can actually travel there, get isnide find a HUGE TO SCALE complex of tunnels that takes you underground to a lost civilization city, a real city, no loading screens or nothing.
NPC's feel like they were given a purpose and a life, nothing to tug at your heartstrings but more to let you know that what you do matters and has consequences, and it does. Maybe whacking the dumb bimbo for her stolen ring won't matter in the grand scheme of things ending wise, but the town remembers, her butcher remembers her uncle sly you never met on the ♥♥♥ end of the island will know what you did and when you're sent on a quest to find a whatever and he could make it 3 hours quicker and he tells you to ♥♥♥♥ off. Well you get the idea. Though killing the same person gets you a map, a ring of awesome i won't spoil and friends as well. Or you could do something completly different and not kill her, maybe picpocket, maybe bribe her. Who knows, you may end up her friend from the get go. the Choices are yours, and multiple playthroughs can be done.
What I'm trying to say is, this game is rough to beginners, but you give it half a chance, use forums and wiki some, and you will be a sleep deprived zombie like me. After I'm done writing this I'll go to bed.
A truly hidden gem with a cult following, that deserves much more recognition then it received.