The Dark Eye - Demonicon
E3 2012: Hands-on Preview
"Demonicon looks like a solid Western-style RPG with plenty of content and a focus on the single player experience, which is appreciated in an age of multiplayer."

From Kalypso comes a third person action RPG in the narrative tradition of BioWare's latest titles. The single-player game is based on the "Dark Eye" pen-and-paper universe popular in Europe. Demonicon takes place on one continent from the Dark Eye realm, a place infested with demons, plague, and all manner of noxious happenings, making human life difficult and harrowing. The street-smart Cairon is one such human, and his life is about to become even more difficult when a demonic power awakens within him and his beloved sister.

Unfortunately, Demonicon wasn't playable at this year's E3, as the build was still very early and unfinished, but we were able to see some gameplay. This is a story-centric RPG with everything one has come to expect from Western developed RPGs. Levels branch away from a central hub town full of talkative NPCs and shops, and each level offers some mix of combat, exploration, and story development. The protagonist earns experience with every kill and uses it to obtain new weapon skills and magic abilities.

Kalypso has taken a simple approach to combat, removing flourishes and slowly-filling bars with an emphasis on fluid chains of attacks. Careful timing of blows balanced with parries, blocks, and magic demon skills rewards players with more experience and higher damage. Cairon becomes increasingly demonic as the game progresses, and this will be reflected in both skills and appearance.

The most impressive aspect of Demonicon discussed at the show must be the degree of choice and consequence in the narrative. We were given an extended example of one such decision, and the repercussions of this one choice were comprehensive. The decision involved a cannibal bound to 20 hostages by sinister blood magic. Killing the bastard might seem the obvious answer, but not when he takes his hostages with him into the underworld should he perish.

Releasing the cannibal saves civilians, but allows him to continue his heinous crimes. Missing persons posters appear throughout the hub town as a result, and I imagine there are rewards for saving the innocent lives. We were shown the other path, however, and the results were impressive. Shrines of mourning dotted the hub town for those lost in the tragedy, and the cannibal himself rotted away in the town square, displayed for all to gawk at. The death of 20 citizens didn't go unnoticed, however, and angry widows chastised Cairon for his choice. We were told the harassment goes even farther later, when Cairon discovers a dead cat nailed to his door.

The extent of consequences is exciting, and Kalypso promises plenty of tough choices as well, many in that morally ambiguous area being championed in recent RPGs. Demonicon looks like a solid Western-style RPG with plenty of content and a focus on the single player experience, which is appreciated in an age of multiplayer. Those looking for another action filled, choice-driven Western RPG should keep a dark eye open for updates.

© 2012 Kalypso Media Group, Noumena Studios. All rights reserved.

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