Right. Let's poke convention in the eye with a stick, shall we? Do you want to read a plodding, pedestrian preview about Soulbringer... or would you prefer a zany 'comedy' quiz? Huh? The quiz! The quiz! Yaaaaay!
Here's the deal: we'll chuck you a load of multiple choice questions, you pick what you think are the correct answers, then zip to the end of the feature and tot up your score, which you can then paint on a plank and hurl at a German. Whatever. Let's go.
I - What Sort Of Game Is It?
a) A farmyard wrestling simulator
b) An exercise in deranged psychotic nastiness in which you strap a postman to a chair and drive pencils into his tear ducts
c) A classical-stylee role-playing adventure title with sumptuous graphics, in which all the action takes place from a third-person 3D perspective and comes complete with a user-positioned camera.
2 - Who's The Star?
a) Keith Moon from The Who
b) Aunt Flo from Bod
c) You are, dimbo. You play a nameless young j man on a quest to rid the world of a gang of demon lords known as the Revenants.
3 - Quest? Revenants? Wow. Like. I'm Really Excited Now. Cuhhh. Why Should I Bother Reading Any Further?
a) Beats me
b) Because your heart is empty and only words can fill it
c) Because, although on paper the plot may sound a tad pedestrian, some of the Soulbringer team were also responsible for the completely tremendous and genuinely frightening Realms Of The Haunting, a sadly overlooked classic which garnered a cult following. This considered, you can bet your sweet bippy Soulbringer won't be a run-of-the-mill affair.
4 - This Isn't A Proper Quiz, Is It?
a) You're right. Let's do away with this
b) And just get on
c) With the stuff about the game.
Back To Basics
Phew. That's better. Right. Check out the screenshots. As you do so, mull a couple of things over in your mind. Try this: Soulbringer is a big game. It consists of five episodic stages which Gremlin reckon will take at least ten hours each to complete. That's fifty hours of gameplay in total, minimum.
It's equally immense in scope. Your character ventures all around the world during his quest, from parched deserts to arctic wastes, from imposing cathedrals I to the centre of I Hell itself (the Arndale Centre in Wandsworth, presumably). The visuals, as you can see, are impressive.
"The graphics in Soulbringer are second to none," claims designer Paul Green. "We've got a great team of artists, and every one of them's completely on the ball." In order to encompass all the pretty locations, the storyline unfolds on an epic scale. Starting out as a faceless slacker, you learn combat skills, gain magical powers, and eventually rise to become leader of a massive army. It's just one of many career opportunities in the game.
"You can choose from 12 backgrounds for your character as you start, and you'll find certain scenarios and adventures are tailored to suit whichever one you've chosen," explains Paul. "Many of the non plot-related adventures are created randomly too. You might enter a forest one game and find one thing, and then play again and there's something completely different happening."
We're also promised a "unique combat engine" which will make the game easy for newcomers to get into, yet complex and engrossing enough to reward long-term practice; it should be possible for experts to hack their opponents into bits with a solitary blow. Still, Die By The Sword promised the same thing, and that was a load of old rubbish, so we'll reserve judgement on all that until we get to try it, shall we?
Dead Dud Good
The title Soulbringer hints at a shadowy connection to the afterlife, and by crikey that's precisely what you'll find in the game. In the first episode, your character learns how to communicate with the dead. And not by shouting VERY LOUDLY in graveyards either; no, he turns into a right old Doris Stokes. Chit-chatting with corpses plays an important role in the storyline - "more so than you'd think," say Gremlin, rather cryptically.
So: big locations, a third-person perspective, wacky combat, armies, corpses, lots of playing time, but a cliched storyline. That's Soulbringer so far. The moment we get our claws on a reviewable version of the game, we'll be at it like a rat up a drainpipe. And then we'll write about it for you. Deal? Deal. Oh, and your score for the quiz? You scored zero. Because you are one. Now go on, sling your hook.