By Alec Meer on October 14th, 2011 at 5:00 pm.
There’s a dark, haunting corner of my laptop, and it is a place I fear to tread. It smells of hope, and cobwebs, and hastily-scrawled email addresses, and Europe: it is my notes from Gamescom back in August, a disorientating four days spent sprinting across a village-sized convention centre full of noise, neon, rictus grins and electronic wonders beyond count. There are many PC games I saw out there that I’ve yet to cover, because I’ve been too busy playing other PC games, but I must stay the course and conclude my preview-quest. Next – The Dark Eye: Demonicon, an RPG based on a pen and paper roleplaying setting renowned in Germany. It has a semi-open-world (comparable to the Witcher in that regard, apparently), it has fast, bloody combat (think Devil May Cry and its ilk), and it has a whole lot of necromancy.
You play as a bald, angry, heavily armoured guy known as Cairon. He’s primarily a fighter, not a lover, but he/you have about 20 skills to play with, including non-combat stuff such as lockpicking, crafting and persuasion (or ‘fast-talking’, as the dev rather endearingly put it). You’ll be making choices in dialogue, which will in turn have capital-C Consequences. For instance:
At one point, you find out that a necromancer has taken over a village and forced its peasants into slavery, making them work in a toxic mine to look for an artifact. If they die he resurrects them as undead slaves. What a rotter! You should probably stab him in the eye or something.
But wait! Turns out that the artifact he’s after isn’t actually for his own nefarious ends – it’s necessary to cure to a disease that’s infected a major city, whose death toll is rising fast. So would you rather free the peasants and kill the necromancer, or would you prefer to help save, potentially, thousands of lives in the city at the cost of a few lives and the unpleasant knowledge that people are being zombified as a result of your inaction?
Tough one, eh? Philanthropic necromancy wasn’t a concept I’d considered before. The Witcher 2 definitely seems to be a guiding light for this game, which is no bad thing. The zombie’n'demon setting means it’ll be tonally a whole lot darker/gothier, however.
Oh, and I established that there’ll be one big city you can always revisit to see how your decisions are affecting the world and its people. Plus, you’ll have a house there, where you might find gifts from fans or, distressingly, a “a cat nailed to the door as a threat from the enemies you have made.” I really don’t want to find dead cats at my house,thanks.
Also mentioned are some 35 enemy types, a promise that you won’t spend your first quest killing rats, that you’ll use direct combat skills such as blocking and dodging, and that you can devour the life essence of enemies in order to cast spells. Did you know: Jim, John and I absorb a tiny fraction of Adam’s life essence every day, in order to fuel our dark unlife. We expect him to last another 16 months, at which point we will advertise again for another “writer.” We’ll be needing a younger one next time, I think. They last longer.
Anyway! A lot of Demonicon’s features were merely described, not shown. All the devs had to show off so far was the combat system, but we’ll get to see all that good ol’ world stuff at a later date. Here’s a reasonably similar demo to the one I saw, albeit uninterrupted by me asking “what’s all that then?” and “who’s the bald guy?” and “can I choose to be lovely or a prick?”
Sorry for the abrupt ending there, but I don’t recall there being too much beyond it. And yes, it is due on PC – don’t be alarmed by the consolery on show in that video.
The Dark Eye: Demonicon is published by Kalypso, developed by Noumena Studios Berlin, and is due for release late next year.