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Previews

Hunted: The Demon's Forge

PREVIEW: Forging ahead with the InXile role-player

There's a flash of worry when you watch the intro cinematic to Hunted. In the middle of the sweeping shots of the Tolkienesque fantasy landscape, a large-chested lady does an erotic dance against a black background.

Here we go, you think. A game that's taking that classic lazy route - chucking boobs around. But the second Caddoc and E'lara start talking, you realise it's fine. Their dialogue is streets ahead of most fantasy games, with the same warmth and humour of the banter between Monkey and Trip in Enslaved.

Despite having elements of fantasy RPG and dungeon crawler, Hunted is best described as a third-person action game. Elisa's bow handles similarly to a gun, and Caddoc's sword is a simple melee damage-dealer. Creatures and chests do drop random loot, but there are nothing as traditionally RPG as shops or inventories. If you want the new weapon, you'll have to drop your old one.

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When Seraphine - she's that seductive dancing demon whose bosom we were presented with a few moments ago - leaves Caddoc's dreams and enters the real world, she has a simple request: touch the Deathstone that sits on the pedestal in front of them. "Touch the Deathstone?" asks a suspicious Caddoc. "The stone of death? With the dead body next to it?"

It's great to play a fantasy game with natural dialogue, and a storyline that doesn't involve apocalypse and destiny. The Human Warrior and the Elven Hunter's quest isn't a divine mission to save the world - they want money.

Their co-op relationship is enforced - and you will die unless you work together - by their different styles. Exploring, E'lara can place her arrows in different coloured flames to hit switches, and Caddoc is able to use brute force to move walls. In combat, E'lara is the physically weaker of the two, and lends arrow support from the background.

She can also spend her mana on magical arrows, direct magic attacks such as the chain-lighting Dragon's Breath spell, or to buff Caddoc's melee attacks to let him plough through the enemies more efficiently.

It's not the revolutionary codependence that InXile seems to think it is, but the action scenes are unexpectedly intense. Feel free to add a new and curious blip to the 2011 radar.

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