The Huntsman: Winter's Curse (PlayStation 4) Review

By Chris 15.09.2016 3

Review for The Huntsman: Winter

"That sounds like a familiar story," claims the protagonist of The Huntsman: Winter's Curse. In a medieval movie tie-in complete with dwarves, faeries and an assortment of swords, it seems as if this is a self-reference. The story follows Elizabeth, a brave soul who sets off on her own to find her missing brothers. Along the way, she must form strong bonds with newly acquired allies and together overcome a vast variety of foes. Stock foes that should be better at their job considering they appear in almost all medieval stories; evil snakes, oversized spiders, and obnoxious trolls. The cast has assembled, but will it create a new masterpiece or remain in medieval mediocrity?

The Huntsman: Winter's Curse is story centric. Cutting rope and letting horses run wild to create a distraction, a feisty dwarf scaling a gargantuan troll and stabbing him in the eye, corrupted siblings fighting to the death; all thrilling stuff… or it would be if the game was fully animated. Instead, the player must imagine what is going on while two characters sway left and right, regardless of what the textbox claims is happening.

The lack of animation also extends to the battle scenes where each character has a single animation for attacking. Choose a kick with Elizabeth and she will still slash at the enemy with her sword, and even if that enemy is a spirit - a floating ball of transparent mist - they will bleed. This is disappointing for a title where a huge chunk of the play time is allotted to story.

One redeeming factor lies in its battle system. Imagine a cross between a tactical card game and a traditional turn-based RPG and you have The Huntsman: Winter's Curse, albeit the complexity has been cranked down to beginner level. The party consists of one to three members, depending on how independent the protagonist feels at that point of the tale. Each party member has four item slots; one weapon, one piece of armour, and two assist items. One Item consists of two cards that contain attacks or basic effects that consist of boosting or reducing attributes. There's nothing surprising here.

Screenshot for The Huntsman: Winter's Curse on PlayStation 4

Where combat system shines is in its organic timing system. On the top left of the screen rests a timeline with each combatant lined up in order of who is next to attack. While faster characters have less time between attacks, it is a negligible difference and will play out like a regular turn-based RPG. This makes the system seem rather pointless for the first few battles. The battles heat up, however, when moves that give instant speed boosts or slow down the enemy become available. There is something very satisfying about using a move that raises both attack and speed, only to land a devastating blow before the enemy has the time to retaliate.

This happens around the second and third episodes, but instead of introducing more complex moves and battles that require strategy as the game progresses, The Huntsman: Winter's Curse simply forces the player to fight the same enemy types in repetition. Interest quickly fades. By failing to engage beyond simply learning how the timing system works, Desert Owl Games has wasted a chance to make a truly memorable battle system. It's hard to not feel unsatisfied, longing for something deeper.

The Huntsman: Winter's Curse will take about six hours to complete, but that's not including an additional two hours to that for the time wasted dealing with bugs. Equipment can be changed in the space between the end of a story scene and the start of a battle, but when the battle begins the player won't be able to select anything. The game must be restarted. Once it has loaded and the title scene appears, seemingly it is fate that will decide whether you can move the cursor or must reset yet again. Random bugs also seem to show up in almost every part of the game. This causes a lack of motivation knowing that no matter how well a battle goes, it can all be in vain. Bugs are so frequent that it feels as if The Huntsman: Winter's Curse may have a touch of the medieval plague.

Screenshot for The Huntsman: Winter's Curse on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

The Huntsman: Winter's Curse would have been a much more exciting experience had it had better direction. There are interesting battle mechanics, but they never reach their full potential, and the textboxes describe dramatic scenes, which the characters on-screen fail to act out. Also, most importantly, basic progression through the adventure is hindered by the bugs that will break all but the most persistent of gamers. There was a predicted winter's curse, but many will feel that it has arrived early in this ultimately broken release…

Developer

Desert Owl Games

Publisher

Desert Owl Games

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Glad I didnt have to do this review if it was that bad.

Bummer. This game had caught my attention with the battle system mixed with a card-game, but it seems like the game isn't really worth my time to play it.

Yeah, I'm really hoping the developers will go on to make something better expanding on the mechanics. I would be a waste otherwise.

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