Short Game Review: Lichdom Battlemage


This game caught my attention because it focuses on one thing that I usually simply skipped in fantasy medieval RPG games. Magic and wizardry. If a game gives me option to choose between a mage and warrior, I’d most likely pick the warrior. I just like a more direct contact with enemies using swords, axes, bows and other cold weaponry. But we talked about it on one of the GOG Twitch streams and I said, what the hell, I’ll just give it a try and finally taste the magic side of RPG games. And so I did.

Visual and audio presentation is spectacular. Unsurprisingly, considering it’s running on CryEngine 3 engine. Worlds and levels are amazing with some really nice architectural designs. You can wield many types of magic, ranging from fire, ice, lightning, phase, necromancy etc and each comes in 3 basic shapes. Direct fast attack, slower indirect massive attack and block (out of which I basically never used Block). You can also combine them in order to turn battles in your favor by freezing or slowing down enemies and then striking them with powerful spells. In a nut shell, basics work pretty well and are easy to understand.

However, game becomes unnecessarily overcomplicated with the overwhelming amount of “construction” parts for the spells. Every spell has so many combinations it’s ridiculous and the documentation surrounding crafting is nearly non-existent. And when I wanted to check tutorials on Youtube, they were for some older versions of the game with different interface. It’s so confusing it took me like half the game to sort of grasp how the whole thing even works. Luckily game has a “Smart inventory” mode in which game automatically generates the best possible spells and upgrades with the components that you have. It means you’ll be stuck in the same spell form (homing fireball for example), but it’s easy and doesn’t require any knowledge. At least something, otherwise I’d stop playing this thing after half an hour…

But all in all, I think the main problem with this game are the repetitive enemies and just that annoying grinding. For hour or two of playing with spells it’s ok, but then it just becomes annoying grinding. Enter level segment, freeze enemy and strike it with damage spell. Repeat. It gets even worse when you get mini bosses that you have to freeze and strike with strongest spell like 15 times. Super crazy annoying. There is no real world manipulation either, you can’t affect enemies beyond direct attacks. Something I really loved in Dark Messiah of Might and Magic where half of kills could be done using environment (using kicking and swords, but still). You could actually be very creative with the kills. I wish there were spells where you could manipulate world objects, throw them around, drag them around, push enemies off the cliffs, into fire, onto spikes, stuff like that. Instead, you just keep on grinding with direct attacks and that’s all it is to it. After a while, I did manage to craft two spells on my own, a lobbed fireball that splits into 3 more on contact which was really devastating. And lightning that shocks more than 1 nearby enemy. But after a while, it all became the same routine grinding of same old enemies again…

And that’s really the main problem with this game. It simply lacks variety. It is constant from start to end. Even the story, after like 1/4 of the game I simply stopped giving a damn about Journals and those “memories”, I’ve only done them because they gave me spell components. It’s that uninteresting. Which is a shame. The game had tons of potential, fantastic game engine, but if gameplay is not good, this is what you end up with. A great concept with rather poor execution.

It has its moments, but that damn grinding aaaargh, I just can’t forgive it for that. I’m not gonna say that I absolutely hate it, but it could be so much more than what it is. Maybe in Lichdom Battlemage 2? I hope so, because the idea is kinda cool and it gave me interest in magic more than any other RPG game before. Luckily I got it at a decent discount price on GOG, because I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself paying a full price for this game. But for what I paid, it’s an ok game I guess. So, if you get it with any kind of discount, I can sort of recommend it, but be aware of the repetitive grinding that might get in the way…

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