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Game Info:

Warhammer Chaosbane
Released: June 4, 2019
Published By: BigBen Interactive
Developed By: Eko Software
ESRB Rating: Not Yet Rated (M)
Reviewed On: Windows 10 PC
Available On: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, XBox One
Genre: Action, RPG
Number of Players: Up to four
Price: $49.99

Many thanks to HomeRunPR and BigBen for the review copy!

Chaosbane is an adventure game set in the Warhammer Old World. That's right, pre-Cataclysm, Pre-Age of Sigmar. The player can choose to go as one of four possible characters: A Wood Elf Scout, a Human Soldier, a Dwarf Berserker or a High Elf Mage. The game begins in Nuln, an Imperial city experiencing an attack by creatures that appear to be coming from Nurgle, chaos god of plague.

The player reports to Teclis, a well-known High Elf character from the Warhammer lore who functions as the quest giver in the main tower, which is the "home base" the player starts each quest from. Once a quest is given, the player heads over to the quest area by running through the appropriate illuminated archway. New archways unlock as the player progresses through the game.

The game is played form an orthographic point of view. Movement is controlled by clicking the mouse button which will cause the character to move to the spot pointed to by the cursor. Clicking on items or enemies will cause the character to interact with them - attacking enemies and barrels, opening chests or picking up items. The player clears each map of enemies, picking up treasure and items along the way. At the end of the quest, the player goes through an exit doorway to return to the tower.

As the character levels, new attacks and abilities are unlocked, and are unique to the character class chosen.  For example, the Scout can fire a spread of arrows that covers a wide area, while the Soldier gets a shield bash that can cause damage and push enemies back, even at a short distance.  It takes energy to use these special attacks, however, and the energy reserve depletes quickly.  It can be replenished by using normal attacks to slay enemies.

Warhammer Chaosbane
Highlights:

Strong Points: Quick to learn; good graphics quality
Weak Points: Not very original
Moral Warnings: Lots of combat and bloodshed; occult themes

I found that gameplay wasn't very different between a melee class and a ranged class. In either case, enemies close in on you so quickly that you can't kill all of them before they're in melee anyway. The Scout seems to be equally effective in both ranged and melee which makes it feel more powerful than say, the Soldier, which has almost exclusively melee attacks. Again, since the enemies close in so quickly it's not a huge advantage, but it does feel more restrictive.

The character can also find items to upgrade, such as weapons, armor talismans, etc. These are normally found in crates and barrels that can be broken in the various quests. Breaking barrels also frequently rewards the player with small amounts of gold.

Game difficulty is set by a slider, which I found to be an interesting way to go. By default, it's on the light end of medium difficulty, which I found to be incredibly easy. I mean effortlessly easy. Early in the tutorial you have to drink a healing potion whether you need it or not, and I felt like it was a waste because my health was still completely full.

There is a multiplayer component to the game, though I never seemed to pick a time when others were playing so I could try it out. This is still in beta testing, however, so that isn't too surprising.

Chaosbane is currently in beta so there are a few minor technical issues that still need attention. I'll list my observations here in the hopes that the development team finds them useful.

If you click beyond an obstacle the character will run up to the obstacle and run in place as he or she tries to reach the point clicked on. The 'use potion' key seems to be mislabeled in the UI (It says 'Q' whereas the tutorial tells you to use 'A.' The tutorial is correct.) None of these problems hampered the ability to play the game, however.

The load times are a bit long for a game in 2019, especially one that doesn't seem to need a huge amount of system resources.

The game does play smoothly and I didn't notice any graphical glitches, though it would benefit from having the gamma bumped up a bit. Some of the breakable barrels in the sewer were hard to see. The same would be true of the enemies, though they're highlighted in red to help with that.

Warhammer Chaosbane
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 80%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 78%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

The sound effects are good enough to convey the point, and the music supports the gloomy feel of a Warhammer game. I do think the voice acting could use some work, particularly the Wood Elf. Her lines and tone would actually be perfect if the tone of the game itself were more lighthearted. More on that later.

Moral warnings here are the usual ones expected from a Warhammer game. It's a high fantasy setting, so there will be magic, monsters and plenty of action. Most of what you fight are different types of monsters, but there are humanoid enemies too and there's plenty of blood splatter from hits. There was no profanity that I observed, and no sexual content of any kind. The Warhammer world does have the idea of gods and goddesses, both benevolent and evil, though there is no playable class that would have the player interacting directly with any of that.

Morally, the game does better than most licensed Warhammer titles. The character is always of one of the "good guy" factions and is working to destroy evil. Some may be uncomfortable with the mage class, however, since it means the direct use of magic spells.

So this is a game in which you play as one of four archetypes, get quests from a wizard in a tower, and clear hordes of monsters from mazes. Does any of this sound familiar? It should, if you've ever played Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. It's essentially the same game. You get a choice of (initially) 4 possible characters consisting of an elf, a wizard, a warrior or a valkyrie, and off you go, working your way through the mazes as hordes of enemies attack you. There are breakable barrels with loot items and gold, and a powerful wizard in a tower sends you on the quests.

Is that meant as a criticism? Well, yes and no. Chaosbane is not the most original game concept ever, but people who played Gauntlet: Dark Legacy remember it fondly for the good time they had with friends, playing a whimsical game and just having fun. If you'd like to play a game like that again but aren't looking to get an old GameCube or PS2, this might just scratch the itch. The problem is, it would still have to be played over Steam, as opposed to everybody being together on the sofa. The only other problem is this isn't Gauntlet, this is Warhammer. So there isn't much of a whimsical element in this game. Old Warhammer, like from the 80s and 90s, had a light, silly tone to some of it and I really think this game would benefit from reaching back and incorporating that tone. That would have made it much more fun. Instead, it has more of a "modern" Warhammer feel which is more grim, depressing and dark.

My beloved Bretonnia does not appear in the game, much to my sadness.

So is this a good game? Yes, I would recommend it to Warhammer fans and to fans of games like Gauntlet: Dark Legacy or Diablo. It's fast, it's smooth and can be a lot of fun with friends as well. It isn't going to blow any minds but it's a solid game.

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ArcticFox

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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