Well, it's pretty much Dark Souls meets Ico meets Pharonic with an isometric perspective and that, my friends, is certainly not a bad thing! This game is a basic action/adventure title (made with Unity), cranked up to eleven, with no coddling or hand-holding. They expect you to learn (and quickly) how to fight and survive in this hostile, deadly world. You start your adventure with nothing more than the underwhelming armor you wear, the cloak on your back (which can be customized a bit right away), and…your codependent daughter's spirit, Aether. Huh. A father's work is never done, even when your daughter is post-mortem.
You begin by wandering around, looking for a weapon and you need to do it quickly; you'll need it almost immediately. A sword and shield are readily available, but if you look carefully, you can also find a nice big two-handed hammer. Much like Dark Souls, the heavier weapons come in handy when you don't mind sacrificing speed for the sake of power, which unfortunately, at least as of the release date, that's pretty much never.
While the game gives you valuable hints via the traditional “words inscribed on the ground” system, it doesn't hold your hand – it expects you to learn the controls, familiarize yourself with the interface, and wade into combat to kick butt pretty much right from the start. Go sword & board, dual wield, 2-handed, ranged – whatever fighting style suits your fancy, you can find a way to make it happen. You can also gain access to forbidden artifacts that let you heal yourself or call upon the powers of darkness itself to aid you in your fight.
THE FLOW AND THE STORY:
You play as Nyx, an old warrior who is far past his prime, attempting to take his daughter, Aether, to “the last place on Earth that still sees light.” You’ll need to fight and destroy your enemies while trying to keep her close by in order to get a nice sparkly particle effect on your weapon which signifies a boost to your offensive capabilities; just try not to let her bite it while you do so. Guide her carefully around gaps in the terrain and traps, or order her to stay put while you deal with a corridor full of nasty spikes and the like, clearing the way until she can safely be led through.
Fortunately, your dear glowing spirit daughter just refuses to stay down – if she croaks (which happens automatically when YOU die), her ashes will remain at the place of her passing and the game helpfully allows you to home in on her location if her place of "death" is far away. Once you find her, you can easily resurrect her (and her offense boosting abilities) but sometimes it’s easier said than done. If you went down in the middle of a boss battle, for example, it can be tough to get her back on her feet without dying again and just like in Dark Souls, when you respawn, all of the enemies since your last checkpoint do too, with the exception of bosses.
Supports WASD; XBONE & other controllers. It's playable, if a bit clunky, when it comes to actually doing anything useful in combat. You need to time your attacks and blocks to survive, which means triggering your heavy or light attacks a bit earlier than when you actually want the strike to connect in order to give yourself time to wind up and swing. Parrying is even more difficult, since it requires you to have exact, split-second timing. There is definitely a learning curve on this bad boy.
The graphics are not bad. Dark (natch), with a ton of little details, like a plethora of inexplicably lit candles in a graveyard full of NPCs who wanna kill you. This helps to make up for the simpler-than-expected models, who really only show their detail in the up-close cutscenes. The game's camera is pulled waaay back, but that can be a good thing when you're trying to get the jump on enemies, or when you need to see where you're going if the combat gets too heated and you need to pull back and retreat.
The solid animations coupled with just the right amount of detailed clutter sets a proper mood for the game. Unless your lantern runs out. Here’s a tip; don’t let your lantern run out of power.
The sound is appropriate, if not out of this world. It's atmospheric and suitably creepy and isn't intrusive at all.