Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade
In these days of complex strategies, in-depth RPGs and intricate simulations, it's important we find the time for some less cerebrally demanding gaming. And no genre can offer the simplistic yet satisfying kick the good old hack 'n' slash does - especially when the action is served up with buckets of blood and viscera. Which is a shame for us PC gamers, as we haven't enjoyed a truly outstanding dose of crunching sword-on-bone action since 2001 's Severance: Blade Of Darkness.
Knights Of The Temple: Infernal Crusade is hoping to fill that void, and from what we've played, it has a decent stab at success. Hailing from Swedish developer Starbreeze (recently responsible for so-so fantasy sword-swinger Enclave), the game follows lead character Paul de Raque on his personal crusade against evil. But in a slight diversion from history, instead of slaying unwitting Saracens or pillaging Constantinople, Paul is bent on preventing an evil bishop opening the gates of hell.
As with any hack 'n' slash game, KOTT will live and die on the quality of its combat system. And while the interface still needs some work, it works its guts out to create a melee style of true savagery and intensity. As such, you'll probably be quite happy just eviscerating a stream of blade-wielding foes, ignoring such complexities as RPG levelling-up and tricky platforming. Which is lucky, as KOTT doesn't have any. So, while there are only two attack buttons, there are a host of combos for each class of weapon (such as sword, mace and axe), and defeating your foes isn't as simple as incessantly hammering your gamepad buttons. Instead, your enemies have their own self-preservation in mind, and they block, dodge and wait for the moment to unleash a riposte when your guard slips.
For My Next Trick
As well as cold steel, KOTT will feature a magic system of sorts in the form of divine powers, so Paul won't be at too much of a disadvantage when confronted by the undying minions of Beelzebub. These will include defensive abilities such as rejuvenation and invincibility, and a smattering of fire and brimstone on the offensive side. There's also a range of special attacks to flesh out the learning curve, and a first-person arrow-firing system that presents a challenge all of its own.
Slit For Six
Things are helped considerably by the superb animations, painstakingly motion-captured by a team of medieval combat specialists. From thrusting attacks to desperate parries, canny side-steps to collapsing death throes, you really do get the impression of desperate men straining under the weight of layers of chain and plate.
The developers have also had success in re-creating the savagery of feudal melee. While you'll probably only ever use one of the six progressively explicit gore ratings, you'll chuckle with glee every time Paul uses his iron-shod boot as leverage to remove the sword he has just plunged deep into his fallen foe.
Playing this game looks like it's going to be a dirty job, but someone has to do it. The gutting begins in February.
Download Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP