STAFF REVIEW of Lichdom: Battlemage (Xbox One)

Saturday, April 23, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Lichdom: Battlemage Box art While many have not heard of the company Xaviant, their first person mage game called Lichdom: Battlemage has finally made it onto Xbox One after almost 2 years on PC. Priced at $49.99 this is a game characterized as a first person caster where you are given a ridiculous amount of spells and a massive cult army to dispose of in your journey ahead. However, is this game worth the $50 price tag, or has this game's enjoyment gone up in a proverbial puff of smoke? Well let's begin to unlock the mystery behind Lichdom: Battlemage.

You will notice right away that the options are, for lack of a better word, scarce. You have no option to adjust brightness, though you do have the ability to adjust the sound. Instantly this becomes an issue because of the game's naturally dark settings. When a proper light source is lacking you feel a little like Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder in terms of your visibility, which could have been helped by any sort of brightness control.

This can be quite frustrating, as a few times while focused in battle I managed to find the one hole in the floor and fall through it due to lack of visibility, the result being having to respawn quite a distance away and the enemies I just killed came back to life. A brightness slider would have made a world difference in my time with Lichdom: Battlemage. Nevertheless, let's press on.

As you begin your journey you will notice first off that the control scheme is somewhat troublesome, and at times it feels as if it's borderline unplayable. As a default, your control sensitivity starts out under the '4' setting, but you will quickly set it to '1' just to be able to focus on not running into walls. Even when setting the sensitivity is this low you will notice that walking makes you almost feel as if you're flying, and running makes you feel like you're going into light speed.

The next issue you'll come across is that there is no targeting marker at all. None. Instead, you are given what almost equates to an 'auto lock-on' feature that is based off in relation to the enemy you're facing. You don't see the lock on, but it's there and you can't toggle your target unless you decide to go after another enemy by changing focus completely. When you're talking about having multiple enemies in the distance, it's very hard to auto target and switch when your control scheme feels like it's had 20 shots of espresso.

You would think that wielding two magical gauntlets on both hands would enable you to readily target two enemies as well. Nope. To top off all of this nonsense, you have a simplistic control scheme where you have three banks of spells (Y, X, and B buttons) to select from on the fly and your LB is utilized for blocking. RB is used for a 'blink', a rapid shift in any direction, but there are issues here as well.

Blocking, if done right will perform a riposte that will damage or kill the attacking enemy and injure any others within the blast area. This sounds great until you realize that the swarms that attack you prevent you from doing this. Regular blocking will let some damage through, but not all. I found myself learning fast how to properly use the blink maneuver in order to dodge ranged attacks while opening a window of opportunity to unleash a barrage of destructive spells. The issue I have here is that while you can even customize your shield that you have equipped, this almost makes blocking unnecessary, which then raises the question: why have it? For example, if you charge up your blink dash, your character releases a burst nova where ever they land, so it becomes a heavy offensive tool that will allow you deal damage without receiving any yourself (but you have to charge it first) and the regular quick blink is highly defensive allowing you to again take no damage. So the reason to have blocking again is what??

Your character Dragon, whose name is assigned by the game, has had their life suspended and everything they loved has been destroyed by a demonic group called the Malthus Cult. Apparently this cult is the center of all the undead monsters that are rampaging through your lands, ruining everything in their sight. Thus enter Roth. An incredibly powerful magic wielder who has selected you to become his next apprentice and agrees to help you get revenge on the Malthus Cult by granting you two magical bracelets that allow you to wield unlimited magical power. "Unlimited" may be a bit of a stretch, as you must go through the game's levels and unlock new magical spells and abilities as you progress. This is where the strength of this game really comes through in a big way. You want spells? Lichdom: Battlemage will give you more spells than you've ever seen in your life.

There are a total of 156 base spell types in this game, and from these you can combine and craft literally millions of different combinations and variants, which will come in handy throughout your quest provided you take some time to do some research and learn how the spells interact with one another and the enemies.

This is where the learning curve almost takes a sharp 90 degree turn straight up. Trying to find out what works best for you will take a long time to decipher given the fact that the writing and description of the spells themselves are incredibly small (even playing on a 55" 4K 1080p Samsung UHDTV, the print is damn near microscopic). You will find yourself spending a lot of time at checkpoints as you take a break to see what spells are needed. Trust me, doing this in the heat of battle (since the game doesn't pause) is the wrong time to be adjusting your spells. For example, you will have a fire spell, however this spell can come in three different forms. There's a direct attack, an area of effect (AOE), and a Nova variant. As you progress you will be able to upgrade these variants individually as well as give you the ability to modify more advanced level spells.

While the story is very linear and told in traditional level structure, the combat itself does provide enjoyment and becomes the highlight of this game. Using some incredibly powerful spell variants can lead to a tremendous amount of entertainment. For instance, my character will summon undead spirits to fight for me based off of tagging enemies with my necromancer spell while killing them, giving me their spirit in warrior form. Whenever enemies appear, they then conjure themselves up and start attacking while I rain down fire from above. You won't run into many different types of enemies in this game but they make up for this in the sheer numbers you face at one time. While the combat does give some enjoyment, there's more than this to keep you hooked.

The levels of this game provide you with some stunning graphics and backdrops now and then. Even though the caves, crypts, and dungeons are as dark as night, this helps embellish whatever flame or fire source you see, making all of this beauty a constant; that is until the screen tears. Yes, while you're standing in awe of your surrounding environment, your screen apparently can't handle the awesomeness and thus starts to tear consistently.

Now in the heat of the battle you don't notice it as much, but when just exploring is a different story (and given that it's a majority of the game, it's a huge issue). The voice acting however is what I would consider a wealth of talent but horrendous execution. Clancy Brown, Troy Baker, Jennifer Hale, Gina Torres, and more, blanket the voices of the characters, however the script itself and the execution will leave you shaking your head in confusion.

Overall Lichdom: Battlemage has a ton of points going for and against it, but the bad are somewhat concerning. Horrible play control, constant screen tearing, a mediocre story, and a bad script are all noteable problems. As well, at the time of this writing there apparently are no achievements to get as the game cannot connect online. Your game needs to connect to the servers online in order to get the achievement data and when you fire this game up, it will not sync your data thus forcing you offline and no achievements.

There was supposed to be a day one patch but unless it was included in the download I have yet to receive it, and if it did get included I would be interested to see what, if anything, was fixed because there is still a ton of work that needs to be done. This is such a setback given the fact that this is a direct port of a PC game that they are charging you $50 for. Until the improvements are made that fix all notable issues, it's best to stay clear and save your $50 for the time being.

In the name of everything that is holy, please find a way to allow your audience to adjust the brightness. Also fix the problems stated above and you're on your way to a great game.

Overall: 6.4 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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