REVIEW: RAW Realms of Ancient War
I have been watching RAW – Realms of Ancient War for some time now with great anticipation. I’m a huge fan of dungeon crawling loot dropping top down action games. Even being a huge fan of the genre I have on requirement when it comes to playing these games, they need to be fun. Sadly RAW simply wasn’t for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.
The game has all of the elements it needs for an entry into the action RPG genre. With three different classes to play as such as the Rogue with her ranged attacks, Warrior with his strong melee attacks, and of course the Wizard with his solid combination of abilities but fragile body, the game has the makings of a true RPG game. The game even has a simple enough story that of course requires you to save the world through partaking on an epic quest. There are lots of loot drops and even a really nice menu system to help you sort through it all and easily see your stats across all of the items and levels. But sadly somewhere around the 2 hour mark and having already killed thousands ( I got the achievement for killing 1000 enemies after only 30 minutes of playing or so) of enemies by mashing the A button I simply lost all hope of having fun in the game.
I was playing as the warrior and was sad to see that I only had one attack that didn’t require mana. My normal hack and slash attack quickly became boring rather quickly and the fact that my other two attacks both required mana was a real bummer for me.
The levels were also rather boring in design and enemy type. The game just throws huge numbers of enemies at you but they lack any real difference in terms of gameplay. It didn’t matter if I was surrounded by wolves or humans the gameplay didn’t change and neither did my tactic of pressing A repeatedly while mixing in my other two attacks and waiting for my mana to restore allowing me to use them again.
The game simply lacked any real charm is the best way to describe it. For a game that features loot drops it simply didn’t make getting any of it any fun. Loot drops are all marked by just plain text on the screen instead of actual items. It doesn’t matter if it’s an axe or a new shield all items were marked by a glowing white circle and plain text above it. The color of the text changed based on the rarity of the item which seemed equally unimpressive. The entire experience is very cut and dry. Pick up an item of text and quickly check it stats against what you have on hand, rinse and repeat. While there are numerous items to be found none of them seem to differ from one another all that much outside of just stats. Sure there is armor to be had but there are only a handful of designs, they just come in numerous colors and even though claim to be made of different materials strangely all look alike. You can find different weapons along the game and some even have elements assigned to them like fire or poison but no matter what weapon you have in your hand the gameplay never seems to change. The feeling of just pressing A till the swarm of enemies around you dies feels the same no matter what you are holding in your hands.
Even the levels themselves lacked charm. As I mentioned each level only features a handful of enemy types so by the end of each of them you will be sick of hacking your way through them especially the spiders, they many many many spiders. The lack of any real noteworthy music in each level will have you hating the sound of your character’s grunting as they attack by around the one hour mark or so.
The game did feature one neat gameplay ability; the ability to control larger enemies on the map by possessing them. However the lack luster delivery in gameplay while you do this and the fact that your opportunity to do so can be counted on one hand in each level sucked any fun out the experience it might have had. Taking over large enemies plays out exactly as it does while playing as your normal character, just smash the A button repeatedly for a short period of time till you are no longer in possession of that creature. It makes for a good crowd control measure during the few times you will be able to do it.
The game also uses soulstones which in essence work like extra lives. As long as you have one you can start again at the nearest checkpoint. However if you run out you are forced to start the entire level all over again. I don’t mean just the level I mean all of it, your loot, your money, your XP all of it is stripped away and you are back to where you started again for that level. Hardcore fans will love this but honestly it would have been nice to have the ability to play a slightly more forgiving game. Especially when playing alone as you will die, a lot!
You can share in the overall cut and dry experience with a friend but only in couch co op mode. It’s also worth noting that each time you turn the game off your second character is lost and you will need to start a new one over each time. The good news is that character is created at the same level as your main character so the game won’t be unbalanced but it’s just another of many minor annoyances in the game.
SUMMARY: There is no doubt that RAW has a certain appeal that only the most hardcore fans of the genre can truly appreciate. While I am a fan of the genra I’m not that big of a fan to overlook the stale and stark experience of the gameplay. It has all of the ingredients to be a solid RPG action game but simply lacks any real charm that so many other games in the genre offer. There are far better action RPG titles to be picked up across XBLA, PSN, and especially the PC. The current price point of 15 dollars makes RAW hard to swallow.