Developed by Xavient, an American game producer Lichdom: Battlemage is a first person action game. It is a first person shooter with magic, or rather better defined as a caster.
To start with you have the option to type in your name and you can play as a male or female character. That’s all the character customization there is and it is nowhere even five percent as near as liberal as in Mass Effect but simpler games can also be successful-if the game-play is good. The graphics are appealing though, at least for when the game was launched. But are they enough to carry the game through?
Lichdom starts with count Shax visiting your smithy and killing your wife. Later you learn he is from the cult of Malthus which has cast a spell over the region. You are reincarnated as a “dragon” (by dragon we don’t mean a fire breathing behemoth of convectional story-telling but a man with exceeding magical powers) and it is your task to stop this cult. But as the character says within moments of the games start, “What, come on. You can’t give me all this power and just leave.”
This is exactly what the games mood is like from start to end. The game gives you power but without any real back-story, at least at the starting point. There is little emphasis on story though there are some tiny bits of information here and there, mostly during ephemeral conversations with the infrequently arriving mage named Roth who has given you your power. There are also minor pieces of knowledge that update the journal which you can collect as you go along, but nothing that teaches you about the world much.
It doesn’t tell you crucial facts about the dragons history (except you are reborn as one), or if there are other friendly nations or people around in this bleak world. It also has no background of the cult of Malthus, its goals and how it managed to cast its spell that created the extremely “fugue like state ” (as the game describes it) in the entire region the game makes us play in. It also does not tell us how far this state reaches. Has this been done to a few villages, a city, a country, a continent or even an entire world?
There are also no plot twists to surprise us. The story is linear. You fight the cult of Malthus and it’s mindless army of wolves, deranged humans, skeleton-men, demons and what not. Count Shax is your ultimate villain.
The superlative aspect of the game is that you get to choose and alter magical “sigil’s”. You can choose from nine different sigils which you unlock as you advance in the game. You can also change their components/augments which can be used to craft more powerful spells. In this manner there are manifold ways in which you can design your casters combat style. There is a massive crafting menu where you combine and experiment with your spells. But you have a set inventory where you have to get rid of some items when you reach the limit. This isn’t really a negative point as many games have this limit on inventory.
At least the game doesn’t copy magical combat from other games and has its own style. Your spells do not have a pool. You can use them at will without depleting any Mana at all. You can have only three sigils at any one time however. You do have a triple tier health gauge too, which if depleted, results in you being reborn at the previous check-point. The loot system is okay-ish but nothing inventive. Dead enemies drop spells which you collect. Shining , interact-able orbs with bats in them do the same thing. There are no swords, headgear or shields to collect either, only spells.
When you complete a sigil goal you get an upgrade. However the upgrades are so minor that it wouldn’t matter not having them at all. They give you the choice, for example, to increase your base damage by one percent and critical hit chance by two percent. I felt this is too minor to be a proper perk.
Reliquaries are available at intervals where you can switch sigils and fast travel between locations. On the battlefield you can combine the power of two sigils. For example you can freeze an enemy to stop him for a few seconds, then use fire to actually damage him. Your own spells do not damage you, making you a truly formidable fighting, or rather casting, instrument. But your enemies as time goes by are even stronger. The game is challenging and there are some solid as a rock boss fights, mostly at the end of each level. There is no difficulty setting so if you are having trouble somewhere in the game (which you will! This is a hard game.) your only option is to grind away.
Reaction time needs to be great in this game. You need to very quickly get rid of enemies so that you aren’t totally surrounded. And on some levels, like one of the ice one with the ice “bridges”, there is limited space to maneuver which makes every battle a challenge, at least mid and late game. Now those who know me, also know that I am a casual gamer rather than a hardcore one so that could be affecting my judgment. Some people, mostly Dark Souls fans have praised the difficulty level but it always helps to have a difficulty setting so that all sorts of gamers can enjoy.
The soundtrack of the game is refined, though only played during the games loading screen and ending. Lichdom could really do with a minimap which tells us which direction we are supposed to go and we tend to be confused most of the time in this area.
Lichdom does take you to different environments. You start in a town, go to a spacious cavern then move on to a frozen location. The enemies are also as diversified as they are numerous, each having a different health gauge, agility rating or ability. Some are archers who fire from a distance, some are demons with a huge health gauge, some are witches which can appear and disappear at will. Some players have complained about the wide distance between checkpoints. In the final level you have some allies though in the form of friendly soldiers.
And finally for all those who were attracted by the cinematic trailer (which is included at the bottom of this review before the rating). Sorry, the game is not as good as it suggests. That cinematic wasn’t in the game anyway giving the feeling that gamers were cheated into buying the game.
Well at least the trailer gives some back-story on the dragons and has amazing visuals. We just wish the game was as burnished as the trailer. The cinematic trailer would however be an interesting loading video or could be played when starting the campaign, which is the only mode in which you can play Lichdom: Battlemage.
Review Platform: PC
- Has nine sigils each with its own qualities which can be used to create great spells.
- Different environments.
- Good graphics.
- Diversified enemies.
- Epic boss fights.
- No minimap. Confusing where to go sometimes.
- No difficulty setting. Not for the causal gamer.
- Vague storyline nor any twists in it. Linear story.