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Richard Cobbett

Jun 18, 2011

Hunted: The Demon's Forge

As the girl with the bow, fellow archers in the treeline are your targets. You pop up from cover, arrow nocked, taking them down one headshot at a time. That clears the path... mostly... for your friend with the sword to dash in. Pity nothing's never quite so easy. Out of nowhere, a minotaur charges and you're down, crawling and hammering the button to stay alive until your friend gets a second to turn and sling one of his precious resurrection vials your way – salvation with a side of mana to return the favour with a magically charged Battle Boost.

Like all good crimes, killing is best done with a friend – and this kind of co-op hack-and-slash is Hunted's bread and butter. You can play the campaign on your own, but it's firmly meant for two: one player as Caddoc (Warrior, Melee, Muscles) and the other as E'lara (Huntress, Ranged, Breasts). Without company, it's a deeply repetitive grind of a game, with little fresh to offer except some faintly amusing scripted banter from the two on their increasingly tedious quest to save the world from rampaging, drug-crazed monsters. Caddoc's fear of bugs is far the best of the running gags, with the duo's tendency to keep saying, “We're not heroes. Oh, well, all right then...” the most tiresome.

All together now: 'He's behind you!'

With the right company, ideally over a LAN to avoid connection issues, the repetitive combat becomes far more enjoyable. Hunted constantly forces you to work together to throw around potions, combine melee and ranged combat, prioritise targets and stay close enough to bail each other out of trouble. Unfortunately, unlike console versions, the PC edition of Hunted has no split-screen mode (and while there's no serial code, yes, it does a disc check.) You can play online with strangers, but the bulk of the Hunted experience is a single long campaign you're only going to play through once. Early on, it's brutally unforgiving, but eventually eases up.

By the time you get to that point, it's a relief. The levels are simply too long, and the gaps between checkpoints can be a real pain – especially when it means retreading the same chapters and hearing the same mediocre one-liners. It doesn't help that while the action is technically split into chapters, the main quest is one long trawl from start to finish, not offering good points to jump in and out. The difficulty can be punishing too, with ever longer battles, and little feedback about how your partner is doing until it's too late.

'Now put an apple on your head'

This makes for a hefty commitment, and one ultimately better rewarded by the fact that it's 8-10 hours of time spent with a friend than anything else. Hunted is a decent enough game, with solid co-op mechanics and a decent feel – but not one that offers many memorable moments on its own. It's far more comfortable pointing out its clichés than actually doing anything to subvert them. While it's a game with plenty of individual mechanics, very few of them feel like they're adding much depth. It's not a brainless game, but it's the kind you can play while discussing last night's Doctor Who. Unlike most games, the question isn't whether or not you're up for it, but whether you have a suitable friend you can convince to join you – not just in being your wingman, but in buying a copy of Hunted on spec

Hunted: The Demon's Forge

Stuck on your own, easily ignored. With a friend, a solid hack-and-slash, but nothing special, or half as funny as it thinks.

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