Chaos across time

RecordNow 10 Music Lab Premier

Loki: Heroes of Mythology
Game Category: Action RPG hybrid
Developer / Distributor: Cyanide / Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: 2 Oct 2007
Rating: ESRB – Mature

LokiIntroduction
Loki – Heroes of Mythology is a Diablo clone through and through. If you like such a game, then you’d be glad to know that this game is going to grow on you. The early game may look and feel a bit disappointing, but if you give it time and as you progress to the mid and end game, you will find the action to be frantic and fun, with lots more things to see and do, and impressive looking bosses to boot.

One thing that sets Loki apart from others is the thousands upon thousands of monsters thrown at your feet. Moreover, the wilderness and dungeon areas in Loki are huge. Dungeon areas utilize dungeon geomorphs that add to the immensity of the game, so expect to spend a lot of time trudging through them.

Loki tells the story of a hero (or a heroine) chosen from four different cultures and timelines – the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Norse, who will assist their respective good gods in defeating the evil Egyptian god of Chaos, Seth. Whichever culture you choose, you will find yourself adventuring through all four timelines so that you can finally defeat Seth at his game.

That Loki look…

Game Play
In the creepy intro movie, you will see Seth being resurrected by a devout follower, before you are dropped before a rotating view showing four heroes / heroines standing among some pillars. Once you start a game, be it single player or multiplayer, you must pick a character from the four that are provided. Your choices include two male and two female characters, they are the hulking Norse male warrior, the fleet footed Greek female fighter, the wise Aztec female shaman, and the intelligent Egyptian male sorcerer.

Loki has 4 huge chapters for your character to play through. Irregardless of whichever character you select, you will start the game at Mortal difficulty which gives you a level cap of 60. To put a stop to Seth, you are going to have to complete your storyline before you are given the choice to enter the other three timelines to continue the adventure. In addition, two other difficulty modes (Hero and Deity) will only be unlocked once you complete your character’s main quest.

    She’s a feisty one

    Once you start a single player game as one of the characters, you will enter his or her world and begin your very first quest. You can read all about your quests in the quest panel which is accessed from the center of the interface bar at the bottom of the screen via the quest button (it looks like a book).

    Just above this button button are three bars – red depicts your health, blue depicts your mana, and yellow denotes your rage. Rage increases the more you fight, and once the bar is full, your character gets a spurt of energy to attack faster, move faster, and regenerate his health faster. Yes, it pays to get raging mad, so keep on fighting wave after wave of enemies!

    Just a bit more to enter rage mode

    Right at the bottom are two other bars. The one at the bottom left is green which denotes experience, while the one at the bottom right is light blue denoting your character’s faith.

    Experience allows you character to level up. Whenever you level up, you get 5 points to distribute among your attributes – Strength (affects damage inflicted), Dexterity (affects chance to hit enemies and to avoid blows), Intelligence (affects magic damage inflicted), Vitality (improves your health), and Energy (improves your mana).

    How shall I distribute the 5 attribute points?

    Twenty five percent of your experience points will be used to improve your character’s Faith. When the faith bar is full, your character earns a skill point towards the current god he is worshiping. There are three gods to worship for each character and they present a different skill tree to be mastered. Skills will either give you special hits (bonus to attacks), spells (magical damage), or stances (which nets you bonuses when your character stays still).

    You can change the god you are currently worshiping by praying at an altar. If you don’t like the skill system, you can also choose to become an atheist and worship no gods. All your experience points will then be devoted to leveling up your character. Seems like Cyanide, the developers of Loki, really thought of everything when it comes to giving the player’s flexibility.

    Bull’s Charge seems like a good skill to possess
    There are tons of monsters to fight in Loki. I have seen all sorts of monsters that I am numbed by all the creature variety. There are normal beasts like bears, birds of prey, jaguars, scorpions, snakes, war dogs, wolves; fantasy creatures like centaurs, elf warriors, goblins, golems, gnomes, and harpies; and undead monsters like skeletons, living dead, mummies, and tomb guardians.

    The world in Loki is divided into zones that are either large squarish overland maps or dungeons formed using geomorph tiles. Each zone will usually have about 4 types of monsters inhabiting it and the mini map at the top right hand corner pinpoints them using red dots. These red dots do not stay entirely still. They do move about short distances every now and then. If you move too close to a clump of red dots, a swarm of monsters will come charging at you.

    A sea of red dots up ahead

    A glaring yellow arrow or marker on the mini-map will tell you the direction of your quest, so you will want to take the shortest path to your destination. However, the shortest path is not necessarily the path of least resistance. You can also press the M key to see the entire map of your current zone at one glance.

    Here I am viewing the entire map for this zone

    Other than questing, you will be picking up treasure dropped by your enemies. Treasures are represented by little pouches on the ground. To save you much needed time, there is a friendly “take all” button for whatever is in the pouch.

    Once you have taken the pouch, you can view the items you have in your inventory panel (the button for your inventory is located next to your quest button). Items like weapons, armor, and rings, come in different shades of color – white are basic items without any magic imbuing them, light blue are rare objects with 1 or 2 bonuses, and dark blue objects have several bonuses.You will see other colors in the higher difficulty levels, these objects are highly coveted and useful in your fights against epic enemies.

    The treasure’s all mine! Hit the Take all button now!

    There will of course come a time when you find your character cannot carry any more treasure, and that’s when you have to head back to town. Don’t fret though, there is an unlimited use teleportation stone that allows you to return straight to your village so you can do some business with the merchant who will purchase items from you and repay you gold in return.

    While at the village, if you wanted to, you could also forge / overlap or assemble / reassemble your treasures at the blacksmith. Once you are happy with the handiwork, you can then teleport straight back to where you left off to continue your quest.

    Just right-click an item to move it to the Kiosk,
    after that enter the Kiosk and sell all items there.

    Graphics
    I am going to break down the graphics in Loki:

    • First, I thought the interface design was very functional and also unobtrusive at the same time.
    • The environments in Loki is spectacular. There is a lot of variety here; from frozen wastelands to blazing volcanos to hot searing deserts and finally to lush jungles. Everything is animated, even the waving grass and falling snow.
    • Some of the models look incredible while others are rather average. You can zoom in to eye level during the game to see what I mean.
    • Finally, some of the model animations don’t look too convincing when viewing them up close.
    This guy is real ugly!

    Audio
    Music wise, I only remembered the main menu music which did evoke a sense of heroism. The in-game music is mostly ambient style and nothing spectacular worth mentioning. The game would have benefited from a unique and strong musical theme for each culture, but ultimately the effort is rather subdued.

    Sound effects in my opinion are a bit better, with lots of variety to listen to. For example, a monster typically has several attacking, wounded, and death sounds. The voice over work is pretty strong here with the various gods and people you meet doing their roles with relative gusto.

    Athena’s voice is nicely done

    Pros:

    • If you enjoy a dungeon romp where thousands of enemies are thrown at your feet, then this game is it.
    • There are lots of monsters to encounter for each character type, and by the end of it all, you’d have enjoyed fighting at least over 100 types of monsters.
    • The game gives you good value for your money. You’d be playing about 6 – 8 hours per storyline. After completing four storylines, you have the further option to play the game in higher difficulty modes – Hero and Deity, that raise your character level cap to 120 and 200 respectively.
    • All dungeons are infinitely replayable – the use of geomorphs ensure that dungeons are different from game to game.
    • Multiplayer allows you to play on LAN or with Gamecenter (the latter did not work for me). I think the best mode of the four multiplayer modes would be the first one: Co-op, Duel, Battle, and Challenge. Yes, co-op mode allows you to play the four chapters of Loki with up to 5 friends.
    • The boss battles are really worth remembering.
    If you think Fenrir is easy pickings,
    wait till you meet Jormungand, Hel and the rest

    Cons:

    • In the mid-game, the game gets so repetitive that it gets boring. It didn’t help when I saw monsters that I had seen before in some of the later dungeons. Since I was bored of fighting wave after wave of enemies on each dungeon geomorph, I decided to do a dungeon run to reach the teleport to the next zone. Lo and behold, it was not too difficult to accomplish this mad dash, especially if you have a couple of healing potions at hand. Most of the time, enemies are ponderously slow and easy to avoid. I am pretty sure you will resort to this style of playing after a while.
    • Seeing the same dungeon geomorph in a timeline over and over adds to the tedium. I am also sure that you will eventually memorize where treasure chests are located on certain geomorphs after a while.
    • The inventory panel has a strange implementation – items are subdivided into classes, and only by clicking on a line will you see a picture of it. I prefer the gridded style inventory system that Diablo (and even Torchlight and Titan Quest) employs.
    I got so tired of the fighting that I ran through
    the entire zone… and survived!

    Conclusion
    Loki is ultimately fun, but how you derive that fun is really dependent on whether you like endless dungeon romps that have you defeating hordes of monsters through four different storylines. The four chapters are truly lengthy affairs, especially if you complete all the quests, kill every monster, and even play through the higher difficulty levels.

    Despite its apparent flaws, Loki comes recommended as an alternative for action RPG players who want a different look and feel to this style of gaming. To tell you the truth, I found myself being addicted to Loki after a few hours of playing and I very much wanted to return back to the game and play a little more just to see what else the game would throw at me.

    The addiction bug just won’t stop biting, so I am going to force myself to uninstall it so I can move on to the next review.

    Finally, one chapter done… and on to the next

    Daily PC Game Review Score: 7 / 10
    Review Date: 14 May 2011


    Leave a comment