Playing Tainted Keep, we're suddenly reminded that the action RPG has become a woefully underpopulated gaming genre these days.
It seems like they were everywhere for a while, a few years back, and the RPG river has since run dry.
So we jumped into this game eagerly, and perhaps with expectations a little on the high side. Because it seems the action RPG game hasn't returned in full force after all. At least, not in Tainted Keep.Once, I ran to you
The game begins with a very interesting and motivating story about your village being attacked by an evil wizard, who's vacuumed up everyone's soul and run off with them.
Only you are brave enough to storm his stronghold to get back the living essence of your fellow villagers.
But that's where the story dries up. It's really more of a synopsis that explains away the reason for your being in the eponymous keep, slaughtering everything that moves.
Still, it suitably establishes the standard fantasy theme, with orcs and goblins and armoured creatures roaming medieval dungeons, which is ultimately no bad thing.
Everything you'd expect to find in a fantasy dungeon is present and correct, even if the environments are, at times, a little too brown.
The quickly dwindling storyline does rob Tainted Keep of its RPG feel, however, and the game is soon unmasked as cleverly disguised hack 'n' slash.
Again, this isn't necessarily bad, though it does leave us yearning for a more involved and character-driven angle that never quite materialises.
Now I'll run from you
A left analogue stick is used for controls, which is a tad patchy when the action heats up, but certainly isn't a deal breaker.
The right analogue stick is a little harder to get comfortable with, as it's used for both attacking and for camera control.
Pushing forward attacks the hordes of enemies with whichever of the available weapons you've currently equipped, while pulling back blocks against incoming swords, axes, and other handheld menaces.
The two uses easily interfere with each other, although it's compensated somewhat as you don't have to be very accurate when laying into an orc.
So the fighting elements are pretty intense and accessible, especially as your weapons are upgraded simply through regular use.
What's a little odd is the way the game handles your death. You respawn just a few steps back, which means there's little in the way of motivation to care for your own survival.
It seems to work best if you blunder in boots first and sword swinging, and if things don't go your way, you can just try again.
This cuts Tainted Keep a little short, as completing the game boils down to putting in the time, more than developing your skills. It's a great-looking experience, so that linear journey is a dazzling one, to be sure. It's just not overly challenging.