Hunted: The Demon's Forge

[BFG 2010] Back to the Forge

We take another peek at InXile's Hunted: The Demon's Forge, this time with a focus on the game's environments.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: May 4, 2010
It's only been a few weeks since we got our first peek at Hunted: The Demon's Forge, and in that time not a whole lot has changed about the game. Whereas things during the initial reveal were centered around the whole "co-op at a distance" mechanic, though, this time developer InXile Entertainment wanted to really blow out their vision of how the game would look as you skulked around the various passageways and threaded through innumerable cramped quarters in this modern revival of the old-school dungeon crawler.

At Bethesda's BFG 2010 event in Vegas a couple weeks ago, InXile caught the newcomers up to speed on what the game was and delved a little deeper into some of the locales we'd be seeing when the game dropped early next year. For a game almost a full year out, Hunted looks surprisingly complete -- thanks no doubt in large part to the fact that it's running on the ready-made backbone of the Unreal Engine 3 (including the latest updates Epic has added to the platform). The result? A game that feels remarkably solid already -- at least from what our peepers could glean; hands-on time will likely be reserved for E3 in about a month if we're lucky.

Things started out much as they did last month, with burly short-range brawler Caddoc and archer E'lara doing what they do best: stumbling upon a new area, trading quick I've-got-a-bad-feeling-about-this-style quips and trudging into the unknown -- in this case a marshy wasteland littered with the odd corpse and featuring what looked like a sacrificial altar at the entrance. In what was quickly becoming an indication that, yes, this game would be as much about exploration and puzzle solving as it was combat and co-op at a distance, E'lara's grabby hands revealed a disembodied voice and a quickly crumbling environment (another nice little indication of the destructibility of the environments). Massive towers began pumping energy into the bags o' bones in the area, one of which took to a ballista to make things... difficult for the pair.

After fighting off what seemed like never-ending waves of enemies, it became clear that the towers had to come down. The pair did just that, with Caddoc thumping on baddies and E'lara manning the ballista to throw a trio of shots into each of the towers and stem the tide of re-animated skeletons. After proceeding back into the dark and pausing at a checkpoint to swap bodies, the pair forged (har har har) onward to a more open part of the marsh and a puzzle that required a couple far-off statues and some closer braziers to be lit using E'lara's handy flaming arrows. A platform extended and allowed Caddoc to pick up a shiny new sword (he drops his old one, but both characters can rock at least one melee and one ranged weapon in addition to all that fun magic they upgrade according to their specific range affinities).

Not surprisingly, picking up the sword triggered a new wave of enemies to come swarming in even after everything seemed cleared out as the duo made their way toward the sword in the first place. Thankfully, that new sword made short work of them and it was back into a near-pitch-black cave where bones would crunch realistically underfoot (y'know, because we're constantly stepping on bones). After a bit of exploration, another light puzzle that required lowering the water table in the dungeon and a slow creep through a tunnel to reveal a massive arachnid that ambushed the party, the demo ended on something of a cliffhanger.

It was interesting to note here that much of the branching pathways and multiple tiers of terrain weren't as prevalent as the GDC demo, so it seems the whole co-op at a distance mechanic is indeed very elastic, with some environments bringing the pair together to fight and others allowing them to fork out and approach things from a more strategic standpoint. The same Battle Charge system was demonstrated, turning an offensive spell into an elemental boost for the characters, and we're actually very pleased with how that mechanic seems to work very naturally indeed.

This demo of Hunted: The Demon's Forge was nicely varied from what we saw before. No, the gameplay and characters weren't really any different, but the locales certainly were, and it became that much more evident that InXile was really trying to push the idea of getting lost -- "figuratively and literally" as was mentioned before the demo started in earnest -- in a world that's got far more in the way of different locales than the simple moniker of "dungeon crawler" would indicate. The mix of heavy action, cover-based mechanics and ever-present co-op has only helped to make the wait for the game's 2011 release that much tougher. As soon as we can go hands-on, we'll offer more deets, but for now, enjoy a handful of new screens of some of the areas we saw in this updated demo.