| Warriors of Haldrim |
With the highly anticipated release of Diablo 4 on the horizon, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem on PlayStation 4 (and Xbox consoles) is the perfect way to satisfy that hunger for a great action role-playing game. The game’s stunning visuals and deep customization options will keep you engaged for hours on end. Plus, the fast-paced combat system that heavily draws inspiration from Diablo 3, combined with the skill tree system of Path of Exile, provides a familiar yet enjoyable experience – especially when coupled with its in game cinematics. Wolcen does has some technical issues however, such as frequent crashes, UI navigation problems, and graphical glitches – but that barely stopped me from reaching the final chapter and having a blast doing it.
The Storm has Fallen
You play as a soldier for the Arm of the Purifiers, set to combat against supernatural forces until one battle reveals that you are capable of unleashing divine powers yourself – subsequently causing a rift between you and the Republic you spent your whole life defending. This sets a foundation of a rather unique plot compared to the tried and true “prisoner” exploit.
While Wolcen’s world-building and cinematics are impressive for a small team, the same cannot be said for its story, however. Although the game features decent voice acting and a well-crafted world, the overarching plot falls a bit flat. It somewhat convolutes itself and can be a bit difficult to follow, with a lot of characters and factions introduced in a short amount of time. While this can be exciting at first, it ultimately makes the story feel disjointed and unfocused at times.
But still, Wolcen Studios really outdid themselves with their real-time cinematics and animations; until Diablo 4 launches, it will deliver at the highest level in this genre, especially compared to D3, PoE and LostArk. It’s clear that they put a lot of effort and attention to detail into creating a truly immersive gaming experience. The cinematics are not only visually stunning but are also integral to the game’s story and world-building. It’s not as seamless as I would like though – the transition from black screen to cutscene is still present, but it’s all real time either way. This for me, save the story.
Wolcen Studios manages to create a compelling world outside of the main questline with interesting lore and factions if you look deep enough. The voice actors also do a good job with their performances, helping to bring the world and characters to life.
Aspect of Demolishing Foes
After spending more than 50 hours with Wolcen: Lord of Mayhem, I can tell with complete certainty that the gameplay is one of the game’s most notable features. Even while it doesn’t really push the envelope in terms of innovation, the Gates of Fate, Aspect of Apocalypse, and skill and modifiers system are all intuitive enough to make the game feel new.
The Gates of Fate system is a rather unique passive system that has all the expected traits in an RPG like this but allows for the ability to rotate sections and freely combine however they please – allowing players to customize their character’s passive abilities in a way that is both a bit deep and rewarding. The system is easy to understand, can’t say the same for navigating with a controller though, more on that later.
The Aspect of Apocalypse system is pretty good. It lets players tap into certain divine powers and change into a remarkably strong being. This is really an ultimate that allows you to smash through large enemies or be super effective during boss fights. The system is easy to understand and use, and it has enough different parts to keep things interesting. For example, Aspect of Dawn is one of the divine beings you can change into. It focuses on the power of light, so you will be able to charge into battle and easily destroy all signs of corruption. Or the Aspect of Flesh would work for players who want a more visceral and bloody game experience. This divine power is the all-consuming desire of the flesh and bone tendrils to make as many weapons of destruction as they can. It’s a fun element to the game but it serves as just that, an element to the overarching options that players have.
I especially appreciate the way Wolcen handles how Mana/Rage is distributed; if you’re a Sorcerer, you’ll need a staff to regain Mana to then utilize your spells. It’ll drain into Rage, and this is where it gets a bit interesting – you can make a hybrid build that would benefit a playstyle that can also utilize physical attacks aswell. With enough time, you can unleash devastating combos that’s both intuitive and exciting to watch.
The Boss is a Technical Yellow Bar
There are some issues with input, however – often times when trying to interact with an entrance or portal, you would have to position yourself awkwardly, which can take a few very long seconds to adjust. It’s never consistent and it’s rather irritating. Especially when using a portal back to town to sell items, only to then have an issue to go back through said portal, because for some reason the devs decided that having the portable above the fast travel plate was a good idea.
There is a problem with power creep in the endgame as well; the further you get in the game, the more apparent it becomes on how the endgame will play out – even with it’s Infinity Difficulty, with just a bit of effort, it all becomes a bit pointless. Even if the campaing serves as a way to tell a story, overall it makes the earlier game content seem meaningless. This can be a bit of a letdown for hardcore players, though I have a feeling that even after 3 years of early access development on PC, Wolcen Studio will surprise it’s community with something special. Sadly, Wolcen suffers from significant UI challenges, and navigating through my inventory feels like a boss fight in and of itself; inviting friends also seems to be a challenge.
There are too many instances of graphical bugs, such as shadows not casting properly, missing textures on main characters or reflections appearing blocky. This results in crashes on the PS5; which is strange considering I’m playing a PS4 version of the game. It runs fine for the most part on the PS5 – but it shouldn’t be crashing – perhaps allow for the ability to utilize all resources Wolcen Studios are consistently patching their game, but it’s obvious there’s much work to be done.
Even so, the gameplay in Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is still one of the game’s strongest features. The Gates of Fate, Aspect of Apocalypse, and skill system are all impressive and intuitive, making for a truly enjoyable experience.
REVIEW SCORE: 7.5/10
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is an impressive action role-playing game that offers a high degree of customization and personalization for players. Despite the technical issues that have plagued the game since launch, there is no denying that it offers a compelling and engaging experience for players who enjoy this genre.