[Disclosure: A preview key was provided for the contents of this article]
One of the games currently in development for the HTC Vive is Nordic Trolls’ Karnage Chronicles, a medieval fantasy action game that’s set in first-person perspective and features some light role-playing as players venture about the environments, defeating trolls and collecting loot in order to upgrade your gear and earn new items.
After numerous updates and various tweaks since entering into Early Access back in late April of this year, it’s safe to say that the core gameplay is established and the world seems to be blossoming along at a decent enough rate.
Now, mind you, I was only able to play this game in short bursts… 15 minutes at a time due to the woozy feeling of nausea that rushed over me and the pit of my stomach using the game’s locomotion.
The frame-rate and performance were decent enough, but it was pretty easy to tell that my body didn’t like that it wasn’t moving along with the character in the game. For this reason alone it would probably be best to stick with teleportation.
The major issue with teleporting in a game like Karnage Chronicles is because it’s beset with enemies who react quickly and attack you on sight, so teleporting around is a lot slower and more cumbersome compared to manually moving, dodging, ducking and repositioning yourself to get the drop on the baddies.
Now this isn’t a Dark Souls game – you don’t have a button to auto-block or dodge. You are the dodge button!
There are two modes of combat in the game, archer and warrior. Both are quite self-explanatory, with the archery mechanics relying on using the two motion controllers to mimic pulling back a bowstring and letting go of an arrow. It’s actually a lot trickier to use than what it sounds like due to how fast the combat actually is, and how your hand eye coordination can be tough to gauge in a virtual realm.
The archery, in fact, is much better suited for co-op play than single-play only because things can get frantic when playing as an archer in the solo modes.
The melee combat for the warrior is a lot more accommodating for single-play. You can basically take care of yourself using sword and board action. The trick with playing melee is that you have to manually block incoming attacks. Not only that but you have to manually block in the right direction to avoid taking damage.
For the melee combat you have the sword in one hand and the shield in the other; utilizing the motion controls determines how you can swing your sword and shield, block incoming attacks and even parry. And yes, you can physically duck and move out of the way if you so desire.
The melee combat for the warrior is tricky but rewarding. For instance, you can’t just walk up to some baddies and lazily poke and pry at them. The only hits that register are full swings connecting with the exposed body of the troll. While it sounds like easy pickings, the real challenge comes from the trolls blocking incoming attacks. This can make fights against even simple minions challenging if you don’t stay on your guard and attack them with your wits fully intact.
Mechanically it works as advertised, but thematically you’ll only be able to put in the game time when you don’t have to hurl. The upside is that the choice of movement is there for those who prefer locomotion and those who prefer teleportation. You definitely get more maneuverability out of locomotion, which can definitely help during the sword and board segments, but the teleportation will limit any queasiness during your game sessions.
Then again I’ve become accustomed to the PlayStation VR, so having to deal with the Vive and its games may not be an issue for people who only play with the Vive. In any case, Karnage Chronicles is a decent enough title and if they continue on their current path it should definitely be a worthwhile game to check out when it graduates from Early Access.