First thing’s first, forget all that you know about the stereotypical Mage in RPG games. It will only serve to contradict in this game.
Now, with that in mind- or out of mind. Picture this, a Mage without a mana bar or cast cooldown. A magical menagerie of spell crafting possibilities only limited by your creativity and preferences. With that picture in mind, you have the basic premise of Lichdom BattleMage. When I first saw this game on Steam I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, I knew straight away that this would be something right up my alley and it definitely did not disappoint.
In this story of revenge, the motive is set differently depending on whether you choose to play as a Male or Female. In both situations, a loved one is taken from you. You are knocked unconscious and awaken to your city being taken over by the Cult of Malthus. When you awaken, Roth – an immortal mage (who requires a “Dragon”) has bestowed upon you the magical braces. The proverbial key to the Arcane armoury.
However after the tutorial, the story becomes a bonus- there to explore if you wish, but not crucial or imposing on the gameplay, which is clearly the true focus here. For the most part, the story is told through echoes, which are just that- echoes of a previous “Dragon” passing through the same areas that you are. These answer questions about the history of the world and enemies that you face, whilst also delivering the fate of the previous “Dragon”. For me personally, this is a welcomed bonus as it fills out the world and universe in which Lichdom is set. Although I’m not entirely sure that the story should take this much of a back seat.
The journal makes a good reference point at any time throughout the game, as it not only fills out as you progress through the story but it also helps navigate and understand the crafting system. With tips on how each of the components will affect each school of magic as they become available to you. Trust me, the Journal is something you will frequently reference if you want to understand the crafting system and create strong spells. It is not enough to simply create spells from legendary loot, upgrading augments is as important as finding strong spell shapes. The one reason that the crafting system is so confusing, is because of the upgrade system. Literally all loot is upgradeable- you can use shapes to upgrade augments and vice-versa, leading to seemingly endless possibilities. Some loot can be upgraded multiple times. I found myself studying the crafting system for hours, and this is something I found fruitful and rewarding in the game. Crafting extremely powerful spells consumed me almost as much as using them.
Whilst Lichdom is a linear game and not Open world, not once did I feel confined or the need to roam. The game is cavernous, spacious, deep and visually beautiful, achieved with Cry Engine 3. Each level plays out in a different environment, jumping from an ancient underground city ruin to a snow covered mountainous region reminiscent of Skyrim, to a rich desertscape with a beautiful oasis for you to explore, the game really does not need to be open world. Some of the settings are visually astounding, clearly the game has a gifted art and design team.
The checkpoint system, which also integrates with the loot rarity system are sometimes far between, but not outrageously far. This game does make you work though. It really makes you work because when you die, your loot rarity is reset to one- giving you only the most common loot items.
My main disappointment with the game was the lack of enemy variety. Whilst it is not a major issue seeing as though the enemies get obliterated in many, beautiful ways (for instance, exploding in to a flurry of ice shards) it does seem like a bit of a cop out. These enemies have no weaknesses or strengths either. So there is no real incentive to use anything other than your favourite schools of magic, which range from your expected lightning, fire and ice all the way through to necromancy (my personal favourite) and corruption .
Some questionable voice acting choices were made here also- no matter how preferential you are to Troy Baker & Jennifer Hale I feel like there voice acting took me out of the setting of the rest of the game, the dialogue for the characters feels a little bit too modern for my liking.
Whilst Lichdom offers me the chance to be the super badass mage I always wanted to be, it does fall short of the mark in a few areas. One being the enemies or lack thereof however I can’t honestly say this was a big deal for me. The crafting system is very complex and I could see why this would be a turn off for some, but for me personally it was an enjoyable and new take on the crafting experience. Perhaps the biggest let down is the story that whispers behind the warfare, in my opinion it should have been more prominent. This game does what it set out to do- make the mage a total badass but it makes you earn it and rethink your tactics over and over again to do so. It’s as much an action RPG as it is a strategy game. How you approach the battle is up to you. How you make progress depends on your choices of growth and with Fable meets Skyrim Graphical qualities and exquisite settings, this game is definitely a joy to play.
Developed By Xaviant
Release: 26th August 2014
Available on Steam now: HERE