Hard to be a God - Detailed Preview @ Gamebanshee
Gamebanshee has posted Brother None's in-depth look at the book, demo and gameworld of Akella's 3rd person RPG set in an alternate universe, Hard to Be a God. I'll give a few snips, but this is a lengthy article and deserves a full read if you're at all interested in the game:
Hard to be a God is more an allegorical tale and introspective journey than anything else. If you search for the crux of the book you bump into the second problem, expressed by the conversation in chapter 8 between Don Rumata – representing a “theoretical” diety – and the enlightened Budach, a medical man Rumata was able to rescue. They discuss the society of Arkanar, and Rumata asks Budach what he would do if he theoretically could advise a god how to solve all of the people’s problems. Budach proposes a number of solutions, but they are all flawed in some way. This short conversation serves to illustrate that – when the Marxian model fails or is “too slow” – there are no easy solutions to fix everything, even for the Gods...
...The RPG system is simple and straightforward. You have skills: light weapons (one-handed weapons or dual weapons), medium weapons (two-handed light weapons, like fighting staves), heavy weapons (two-handed heavy weapons, like a battle axe, or a one-handed weapon and shield (the best option for the short demo)), ranged weapons, dexterity, diplomacy, stamina, medicine. Upping the melee weapon skills will unlock a number of special attacks, which once activated can be used intermittently with a right click. Kind of action RPG-esque, if a lightweight version of it...
...In both normal and mounted combat, aiming can be the typical awkward fare. In general, this and a few other elements (like the way you do swing combos) can make combat a bit difficult to play out well, but once you get the hang of swinging and blocking, which shouldn’t take incredibly long, it is not a bad combat system. And you’ll notice that sometimes clever tactics or combinations of moves can give you the edge, making it a bit more than the standard point and click fare.
...The setting is quite good and knows pretty complex factionalism as well as a fascinating influence of the SU hi-tech world on Arkanar, even if that doesn’t show much in the demo. The atmosphere in the demo is nice and the music is pretty good, but it’s your basic late feudal fair, beating up wolves and robbers. The interesting stuff doesn’t come until later. The fact that earth technology replaces magic is really a unique selling point.
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