The fantasy realm of the Warhammer world gets an adaptation in the form of an aRPG. It doesn’t do much to redefine a genre, but it’s plenty of fun.
The forces of Chaos are a constant problem to the Old World of Games Workshop’s tabletop epic Warhammer. Worshippers of a pantheon of four evil gods, Chaos is a faction made up of corrupted humans, demons, and monsters who’ve dedicated themselves to the cause.
Basically, they’re an ugly lot that fits the role of ‘villain’ pretty easily. If you’re a gamer, then you know that all too well, since the vast majority of Warhammer (and 40k) adaptations star Chaos as the opposition.
Chaosbane is no different, but you probably knew that from the name. What it does do differently though, is that it adapts the good vs evil storyline into action RPG form. There has never been one set in the Old World before, and fortunately developer EKO Software has hit some solid notes with the first one.
Warhammer’s Old World is in a period of relative calm. Though there’s never all-out peace in the Fantasy Battles universe, the time that Chaosbane takes place in is not one of total war. Yet.
The combined forces of Chaos, which have rampaged across the Empire of Men, have been beaten. In the wake of that storm, we find a surge of hellish Chaos beasts and their acolytes are rising from the sewers of the city of Nuln. They quickly strike, and attempt to kill the new Emperor.
Though thwarted, these wicked forces have placed the Emperor in stasis, with his life in jeopardy. It’s up to the player and his or her allies to find the den of Chaos, rout the dark gods’ forces, and save the day.
That’s not an overly deep story, but there are some interesting events along the way. And all of it plays well with the incredibly deep lore of Games Workshop’s Warhammer. It sets the stage, is the bottom line, and the gameplay that follows is well-done enough to keep you interested.
Have you played Diablo? Any version of Diablo? How about almost any aRPG, that has the focus on the ‘a’? Then you know how to play Chaosbane. But even though it’s familiar, developer Eko has done a very respectable job with the conventions of the genre.
In Chaosbane, you play as one of four characters. There’s a high elf, wood elf, Imperial soldier, and dwarf ‘Slayer’. Each one has a particular style, from archer to mage, which again should be pretty familiar for anyone who knows aRPGs.
As you’d imagine, each character has a set of skills to go along with their fighting style, as well as special attacks. You also have an assortment of weapons to make use of, which you’ll find as you go along in the game’s levels.
Did someone say ‘loot’?
Yes, I did, in a roundabout way. Chaosbane is packed to the gills with loot, spilling out of chests, vanquished enemies, and assorted pieces of pottery. Using all this, you can outfit your warrior as you play, decking them out with the finest that a cask can produce. Comparing stats on what you find is painfully easy too, and thankfully so, since again – you’ll be finding a lot of it.
As for the actual in-game controls, those are as standard as anything else in Chaosbane. You can use either a controller or a mouse and keyboard if you’re on a PC, and you more or less hack away at your enemies till they’re good and smited.
There is a decent bit of strategy as you supplement your standard sword swings with magic and special moves, but it’s a simple control scheme at the end of the day. Fortunately, it’s also really fun.
I love these kinds of games to begin with, so I might be a little biased. But nonetheless, Chaosbane puts all of the above into effect to an excellent degree.
The look that Warhammer Chaosbane sports is something special. That’s really due to two distinct, but related elements. For starters, Games Workshop’s creature and location designs remain excellent. A heavy gothic flair coats everything in Chaosbane, and fans should eat it up.
Likewise, the monster designs are flat out awesome. Especially if you’ve fielded Fantasy armies in Warhammer before, you should instantly recognize legions of the beasties at play in this game. Yes, some of the plain old cultists are pretty boring looking, but they might be the only ones who are. And wait till you’re put face to face with a greater daemon. Aside from the sudden and steep rise in difficulty, it’s freaking great.
It’s not all sunshine though, as I did encounter a few glitches here and there. Occasionally I phased partly through a wall, and had enemies do the same. And once in a great while an enemy would remain clickable (to attack) even though he was dead.
As for cut scenes, most play out in-game. There are a few though, that have a book-like appearance that are somewhat hit and miss in effectiveness. Thankfully, they’re skippable. Oddly enough though, the voice work carries across that same theme.
The in-game voices are mostly terrific, different for each major character. But in those cinema scenes I mentioned, one narrator does all the vocals, even for different parts. It’s weird and I can’t quite figure out the design choice.
More than not, Warhammer Chaosbane is a fun time, and a win for fans of the property. It’s got a ton going for it, and the minor gripes here and there don’t do much to detract from the picture on the whole.
Review Copy provided by Bigben
Release date: June 4th, 2019
Platform(s): PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Eko Software
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