Hard to be a God Review

Apparently it's hard to be a god, but is it hard to make a good game?

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 2nd June 2008

Hard to be a God

  • Developer: Akella
  • Publisher: Ascaron
  • Release Date: 11th April 2008

The role-playing genre seems to be evolving at the moment, with games developers introducing new ideas and features into their games. However, some developers have chosen to stick with the classic formula that made the RPG’s so popular but do these games still have a place in the modern market?

The story behind Hard to be a God blends the classic medieval setting of role-playing games with a mix of sci-fi. The game is set on the planet of Tsurinak which once enjoyed a peaceful friendship with Earth. Relations between the planets eventually broke down and after a war the two planets became distant and secluded. In this time of seclusion Earth prospered and grew, mastering advanced technologies, whilst Tsurinak became stagnated, remaining rooted in a medieval society. In the game you take up the role of a secret agent sent to assassinate a noble man however on your journey you soon become involved in a quest to discover the secrets surrounding Tsurinak, and why it has remained a medieval society for so long.

As mentioned above Hard to be a God follows in the classic RPG mould, with a series of quests that follow the games storyline earning you experience and new abilities as you go. As with most classic style RPG’s there are also a number of optional side quests for you to complete which will often earn you a little more experience and may grant you an item of some sort that will come in useful along your journey.

Quests themselves are pretty simple and often require you to kill a certain npc or collect a specific item from one character and take it to another. It’s all classic RPG stuff that we’ve all seen time and time again in many role-playing games and often involves a lot of travelling over the same old ground in order to complete the various tasks before allowing you to move on to the next stage of your journey.

As with most RPG’s in Hard to be a God you are often required to venture in to areas where you are less then welcome and the game employs a pretty solid disguise system that allows you to trick your would be enemies into thinking you’re one of them, they will even fight along side you if you are being hunted down by a nasty that maybe lurking in the undergrowth.

Despite the use of disguises being solid there are times in which you have no option other then to fight, whether it be against man or beast. Thankfully the game features a rather good combat system that utilises both the mouse buttons giving you two different attacks speed and power. The system works well and makes a change from simply repeatedly clicking away on the mouse. The game also offers a range of melee and ranged weapons adding to the variation of the combat system although when using ranged weapons you will often have to quickly switch to your melee weapon as enemies tend to bear down on your position. Enemies themselves provide little challenge and can easily be disposed of usually by simply tapping the mouse button which takes away some of the finesse of the games combat system. However, enemies will often attack in groups and this usually results in your death and can be the cause of a lot of frustration, as the game features a stamina bar which once depleted removes your ability to defend yourself. So you may find it easy to dispose of one enemy but when there’s a group you will often find yourself at their mercy meaning you will need to reload your last save. This happens on a fairly regular basis and really does spoil the enjoyment of this title.

Getting around the game world is a relatively simple affair however you are further aided by the use horses. This for the most part has been implemented brilliantly with excellent animation and a good control system, however it feels like a rather tacked on extra largely due to the fact the game world is split into areas that are fairly small and in some parts there is only a set path you can follow. The games mounts system is also hindered by the games camera which can make it less then clear which routes of a road are actually accessible to you.

From time to time Hard to be a God enters what seem to be random cut-scenes which usually pop up when you learn something of some importance, these are a rather long winded affair but do progress the games story, however they haven’t been implemented very well and you end up wishing they would end. This pushes you away from the games main character and I found it difficult to make a connection to him, which is essential in a role-playing game, this in turn further adds boredom factor making Hard to be a God unrewarding to play.

Visually Hard to be a God looks ok, it’s not the best looking RPG but does feature some nice animation, however character models could have used a bit more detail as could the games environment which are bland making the game lookl a little dated.

Sound effects in the game are exactly what you would expect from a classic RPG title and nothing really special, voice acting is pretty bad and despite there only been a little you wish there wasn’t any.

On the whole Hard to be a God is a very classic style RPG and sadly this makes the gameplay feel very dated, especially when compared to some other role-playing games. Sadly this game will struggle to hold its own in the modern gaming world and maybe should have followed in the footsteps in some more recent games rather then those from the classic RPG era.

Review Score: 5.4/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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