Rating: ESRB – Mature
Back when I first laid my grubby hands on Rune, I had thought that there would be no game out there that would best it. I thought that Rune must be one of the best games of its kind… well, over the years, I realized I was wrong on two counts!
I will reveal the first Rune killer game tonight and keep mum about the second game until the next time. I am of course talking about Enclave, a little known game that was released with equally little global fanfare by Topware Interactive about nine years ago.
So what’s so good about Enclave?
First and foremost, Enclave is a game that really knows how to throw you into the thick of action. Second, Enclave’s story keeps things sweet and simple and moves things along at a breakneck pace. Third, you will be able to take control of several different characters in the game having different strengths and weaknesses. Finally, you will need all your mouse and button mashing skill to thwart the waves of enemies in beautifully crafted fantasy medieval levels.
|Welcome to the world of Enclave|
Designed as a single player only game, you will join the developers Starbreeze Studios as they bring you on a wondrous trip into the fantasy world of Enclave where good (the Enclave of Celenheim) and evil (the Dark Hordes of the Outlands) have been separated by a bottomless rift for many years. This rift has been steadily closing over the years which in turn will give rise to a cataclysmic war that will decimate all life. Which side will you choose to play?
After you have chosen a difficulty level (there are three – easy, medium, and hard) and created a game, you will find you can only begin the easier Light Campaign. The Dark Campaign is inaccessible until you complete the Light Campaign.
Tip: There is a code to access the Dark Campaign directly. Leave me a comment and I will email you instructions concerning the code. <>
|Please… not until you have had some experience|
The first level of the Light Campaign has you taking on the role of a Knight who has been imprisoned because you were only trying to help your village kinsmen “against tax collectors“. In an incredibly memorable starting scene, you are suddenly freed from your prison and must rush to the defense of your captors. You can’t help but suspect that this game is different from others because of the loving quality you see in just the first few seconds of the game.
The tutorial level is truly very simple. It involves picking up your first weapon to arm yourself, avoiding and jumping over obstacles, finding a torch, operating levers, using your torch, crouching to crawl through a confined space, climbing ladders, picking up and using a shield, using health potions, and unlocking locked doors. There are a few further instructions from the second level onwards, like using a bow, operating a cannon, and so. But, that is basically all you need to know to be able to play Enclave.
|Let me out of the Sewers already… I’m claustrophobic|
The playability in Enclave is what truly grabs me. The fighting is so simple but yet so remarkably addictive that I continually find myself enjoying slashing (or hacking, or clobbering, or stabbing, or shooting, or bombing, or even magically blasting) at my enemies.
When wielding a close combat weapon like a sword, axe, hammer, or dagger, you just need to repeatedly click your mouse button and your character will swing his weapon in a magnificent arc that is bound to slice, dice and tenderize your enemies into chop suey. One click is a standard swing, two clicks give you more damage when your weapon connects, while three quick clicks will deliver a blow that is sure to incapacitate. Using a bow, crossbow, or magical staff is also very straightforward; a green dot is where your shots will land. If your green dot hovers over an enemy, it turns red. Bombs are however a bit trickier; I will leave it to you to discover this.
Not forgetting, you will also be able to use shields to defend against your enemies. Just right click and you will raise your shield to defend yourself.
The enemies you meet in Enclave is typical Dungeons and Dragons fare. You get evil goblins, orcs, ogres, skeletons, wraiths, golems, frog men, and lichs. When playing the Dark Campaign, you will meet archers, gnomes, warriors, paladins, and so on. Most of the enemies employ close combat weapons, but it’s the annoying few that love to skewer you with arrows/bolts (or those that love to fry you with a magic spell) that you must watch out for. Watch out when the former group of enemies gang up on you, and make sure you take out the latter enemies with ranged weapons. The bosses are pretty interesting creatures to fight as well.
The levels have varied objectives and are usually very fun and challenging to complete. All levels are laden with ample ammunition, armor, keys, pots of gold, and health potions to collect. The pots of gold you find will be used in between levels to purchase weapons, ammunition, magic, and armor for your character. The more you collect, the more you will be able to buy.
PS – If you bring out the completist streak in you, you will be surprised to find some interesting unlocakables by the end of the game. So, don’t say I didn’t tell you – find every single one of those pots of gold.
|Take down the Undead|
After completing a level, you get to choose from a choice of characters that you wish to employ in the next level. Certain levels are more easily completed with a certain character, so you have to pick carefully before committing your decision. You get new characters usually after rescuing a fallen hero from the previous level. The new character will immediately be available and you can then use your hard earned gold to equip him (or her).
Equipping your characters is a bit tedious since there is no auto-equip button. You need to choose from a list of items for each category: close combat weapon, ranged weapon, ranged weapon ammunition, health potions, shield, and armor. Try to max your character before you proceed as you cannot undo your choice once you have loaded a level.
|Silky lingerie +5 for my Druidess|
The graphics in Enclave are astounding. From the movies to the scripted sequences to the intricate level designs to the tastefully done characters and enemies, you can’t help but gawk at all the lovely eye candy the game throws your way. Let’s cover each in turn:
- Movies – the entire in-game menu features animated movie snippets (usually involving crows). The game movies usually focus on telling the story while showing you a tome filled with gory pictures.
- Scripted sequences – the game engine is used to render these rather impressive non-interactive scripted sequences involving (sometimes) eccentric non-player characters.
- Intricate level designs – the level designs in Enclave are absolutely stunning. There are medieval cities and villages, a deserted temple, hellish underground settings, a surprise underwater abode, and more. The lighting in the levels is nicely done and the fogs effects in some of the areas also help to make things feel realistic. The textures used in the game are highly detailed and the moving entities in some of the levels will truly surprise you with their intricate movement patterns.
- Characters and enemies – The models of characters and your enemies are all highly detailed 3D models that are pretty stunning to look at close up. In fact, you will be seeing the characters you employ in the game very often. At the start of every level, you can scroll through the list of characters to ogle at them from all angles. There’s the Knight, Huntress, Druid, Halfling, Engineer, and Wizard for Good, and the Assassin, Sorceress, Berserker, Goblin, Bombardier, and Lich for Evil.
|This looks like a scene from Saw…|
The main menu music evokes a sense of war and fantasy mixed together. It’s a nice piece to introduce this exciting and fun game. The rest of the music is also varied and quite an interesting collection. There are usually two flavors to the music – a Light and Dark version. One things for sure, your ears should find the music composed by Gustaf Gregberg to be an absolute treat.
The narration in the game is very good and so is the voice acting by the main non-player characters. Of the non-players characters, Mordessa (the lady in the screenshot below) is perhaps the most interesting. She is rather memorable as she personifies evil and bears a touch of dark humor in her spirit.
|A sultry voice to match… uhm, no wonder it’s rated M|
- Very playable action fighting game that keeps you immersed in intense fantasy medieval combat. There are tons of riveting fighting sequences that will keep you glued to the screen.
- Lots of interesting character choices to choose from in the game.
- Excellent level design.
- Two campaigns that tell mightily interesting stories.
- Atmospheric sound design.
- A number of nice movie and scripted sequences to watch.
- Ability to enter first person mode for ease of ranged combat.
- Camera view behaves itself in Enclave (especially in tight spaces).
|Out of the Enclave and into the Outlands|
- The biggest game killer may get you in Enclave – frustration! Frustration will mount since you can’t save freely during a level (only at prescribed save checkpoints). One word of advice: Play smart – that means, run! And, you’ll probably live to fight another day.
- It’s a single player only kind of game; you need to go elsewhere for your multiplayer fix.
- Enemy AI ain’t too smart, and sometimes enemies appear to be stuck or not as responsive.
|I think it’s best I turn tail and run now!|
Enclave was a pleasant surprise for me. This game’s strongest features includes excellent action fighting playability (and replayability), as well as beautiful designed levels that feature sophisticated moving parts. Not forgetting, Enclave is from Starbreeze Studios, creators of The Chronicles of Riddick series.
On the negative side, the AI may not be that robust and there’s no in-game save (except for a pathetic checkpoint system that is not even available in hard difficulty mode), but at least you can be guaranteed of getting some great fun out of the game.
Enclave is definitely worth my time, and it should be worth your time too. I am truly proud and glad that this game belongs in my Gaming Shelf collection.
|Lovely level designs|