Run Them Through With Your Mighty Blade… Over and Over Again
Sometimes there’s just nothing quite like a good hack-and-slash adventure to cleanse your gaming palate. Though Loki: Heroes of Mythology offers little in the way of fresh or innovative ideas, it’s still a thoroughly bloody and entertaining romp across a wide swath of mythological realms. If you got pumped-up by games like Nox, Diablo II, and Titan Quest, then Loki: HoM is right up your alley.
For fans of the genre, it’s not hard to automatically derive some sort of enjoyment out of wielding an array of viciously gnarled and gore stained weapons to maul the tar out of masses of evil beings, but it helps to have a decent story to keep things moving along. In this case we have Seth, an Egyptian deity of evil and chaos, who’s broken free of his eternal imprisonment. Biddings his tomb farewell, Seth sets out for revenge and leaves no pantheon untouched in his rage. Players must select from one of four heroes on their quest to get to the bottom of the evil uprising and grind it to oblivion via brute force. You can pick from a female Greek Fighter or Aztec Shaman, or a male Norse Warrior or Egyptian Sorcerer. Each character has its own particular weapon skills, combat style, attributes, advantages and disadvantages, and special abilities, as well as a lengthy campaign tied to their unique mythos. You’ll eventually have to play through all four campaigns with your chosen hero before you get a crack at Seth himself, so choose wisely.
Be prepared for a non-stop bout of point-and-click chaos. Aside from a few hotkeys for potions, items, and camera angles, all of the action involves clicking in the direction you want to move or clicking the cursor over whatever creature you want to swing your weapon of choice at. Combat is often repetitive, yet extremely satisfying. Whether you’re battling with fists, magic, or giant two-handed weapons, the audio and visual effects really give the feeling that you’re kicking ass and taking names. Weapons clank against armor and thunk into flesh alike as you trade blows with your foes. The killing strike often elicits a death cry from your victim as a fountain of blood sprays forth into the air and on the ground. There’s some crossover, but in general you’ll encounter foes specific to the mythology of the character you’ve selected. For example, in the Norse campaign you’ll be massacring plenty of wolves, gnomes, phoenix, and fire elementals, to name a few, while in the Aztec campaign you’ll face off against giant scorpions, sand worms, undead warriors, and sphinx, among other beasts.
The benefits gained from rending foes limb from limb is twofold. A portion of the experience you earn goes to leveling-up your character to boost stats for increased bone crushing and flesh melting prowess. A smaller percentage also goes to a faith counter which gives you a skill point each time it fills. Skills points can be used to obtain and upgrade special abilities and magic spells. You can opt to worship no gods and have all experience go towards your stats, but it’s hard to resist the cool powers offered to the faithful. In each campaign you’ll be able to select from several different deities to worship. Every god or goddess has their own unique ability tree sets full of destructive bliss to bestow upon worthy minions. You can also go back and switch your choice of deity at any point which is a good option. Unlocking new abilities is a slow process if left simply up to experience earned in combat since you only get 25 percent of each kill towards leveling-up the faith meter. To speed things along you can offer the gods your unwanted magical items at their altar in exchange for a nice faith boost.
With a relatively strong graphics card and a capable PC – we’re running it at a fairly smooth pace on a Nvidia Geforce 8300 GS with most of the visual bells and whistles turned up- Loki: HoM looks awesome. The scenery, foes, and towns are packed with intricate detail, though some players may have to sacrifice a portion of the game’s visual flair to get it to run evenly. Even with a decent PC there is some slowdown from time to time, especially in areas where it seems the computer launches a full-scale assault on your character with a veritable army of enemies. Expect to encounter some occasional chug on all but the higher end systems.
A great feature of Loki: HoM is the ability to play from a variety of interesting viewpoints. The default setting starts you with a birds-eye-view style similar to Diablo II. At any time in the action, players can use the mouse wheel to zoom in on your character to varying degrees. The long distance view is perfect for the many melee battles you’ll encounter against throngs of creatures which attack from all angles. When you’re up against only a few foes at a time, it’s useful to zoom in to get a closer view of the carnage in all of its gory detail. On high detail settings the graphics remain impressive in either case.
To say Loki: HoM is challenging – even on its basic difficulty setting – is a vast understatement. Progressing through the game is not overly hard, but making it through many portions on the first attempt seems practically unheard of. The game is difficult in the sense that often you’re thrown into situations where you’ll be battling an entire screen full of malevolent creatures simultaneously, and there are only so many enemies you can decimate before falling under the might of their sheer numbers. The developers give players a few options to remedy this problem. First of all, you begin to regain health and mana points automatically after standing still for five or six seconds. The caveat is you can only successfully pull this off when you’re not in the throng of battle – a rare occasion when pressing forward to the new areas. Running away from combat often causes your adversaries to follow you, so this doesn’t always work well. Fortunately, if you do happen to perish in battle you’ll be quickly reincarnated back at the beginning of the current area. Enemies do not re-span so progressing onward to new locations is often a matter of systematically cleaving your way through the hordes and collecting their spoils along the way. Though some may not like this system, it does allow players to eventually make it through the game whether they’re awesome killing machines or not.
Despite revamping the same excellent style of fantasy RPG action found in Diablo II, you’ll find Loki: HoM mixes familiar gameplay with mythological themes and some updated graphics for a lengthy quest worthy of your time. Even at the most monotonous points you’ll want to keep coming back for more. Let your inner-warrior rejoice and bask in the blood of countless fallen enemies.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
Slick graphics if you’ve got the right video card and a high-powered PC. 3.5 Control
Point-and-click interface is solid and time-tested, yet nothing overly new and exciting on this front. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sweet battle noises, death screeches, and eerie background music. The voice acting is a little… interesting. 4.2 Play Value
Super long and challenging quest. Lots of re-play value as well. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.