Reviewed: October 24, 2007
Released: October 8, 2007
Rebelmind and Meridian4 return to bring you another Diablo-inspired title this year with the release of The Chosen: Well of Souls. The developer/ publisher team were responsible for the 2005 release Space Hack, another Diablo-inspired title. Diablo II is pretty much a household name these days and there are very few games out now that can live up to or even give gamers the sense of Diablo II nostalgia.
I admit I played Diablo II in my misspent days after high school. I remember quite well the hours I spent hacking my way through countless dungeons. Sadly I havenít found many games like Diablo II to bring me back to hack and slash Action RPGs lately. Until now that is.
You play as one of the three mighty heroes: Frater, Elena and Khan hired by the Society of Alchemists in a race to stop the evil forces of the Evil Sorcerer Marcus Dominus Ingens. The Chosen: Well of Souls takes place at the turn of the 19th Century in a world overrun by vampires, demons, werewolves, zombies and various other supernatural creatures. To make things worse, the guardian of the ancient Emerald Tablet has gone missing as well as the tablet. It is your job to seal off the Wells of Souls and get that Tablet back. That and deal with a sorcerer thatís been a very bad boy.
The interface of The Chosen: Well of Souls is very simple and quite easy to pick up on. The interface is pretty much like Diablo IIís for the most part. At the bottom left of the screen there is a red orb that is your Health meter that drains as you take damage. The orb also conveniently shows you how many Health Potions you have in your possession. Your health potions can be used by pressing the ďHĒ hotkey button for quick use in the middle of fights.
Like most RPGs there is also your standard Log (Book), Hero Characteristics (Warrior), and Inventory (Axe) icons to open your different windows. Unlike most RPGs there is also a stamina meter. This is drained while you run, by pressing the Control key or toggling it in the lower left of your screen, and after it drains you will be unable to run until it refills. The Chosen: Well of Souls also has the preverbal ďOh sh*t!Ē button in cases of extreme life or death situations. By clicking the Eye of Horus icon or hitting the ďBĒ button you are instantly transported to the Societyís Laboratory to restock on Health and Mana Potions. Hitting the ďBĒ button will return you back instantly back to the location you were at.
In the bottom right of the screen is the Blue Mana Orb. This orb acts just like the health one. Mana is used for performing magical spells. On the same note, there is a Faith meter that drains when you use magic spells. It operates much like the Stamina bar. So no faith means no magic casting. You are given two helper creatures by the Society to aid you in your adventures. One is a towering creature named Golem; the other is a fast flying creature named Neferkar. Golem is your heavy hitter and probably your greatest asset in many cases throughout the game. Neferkar is a long range attacker but she dies quickly and isnít all that helpful sometimes.
Most of the remaining icons are used for accessing your skills and setting up your magic hotkeys, which come in handy in a pinch. Trust me. One of my biggest pet peeves about RPGs is the use of an overview map, and thankfully Rebelmind delivers with one that can be brought up by pressing the Tab key or clicking the compass icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen. One of the quirkiest things about The Chosen is the box that tells you how many enemies are left in the level. You can finish the level by not killing them all, but seriously taking the time to kill them all, is only really worth it for the loot that the enemies drop.
Character Building in The Chosen really isnít different from any other RPG, you may have played. You canít change you characters appearance really other than equipping stronger armor. For each level you gain you receive 5 development points and 1 new skill point. Development points are basically used to increase any of the four main attributes for your character. Your earned skill points are used to increase the characterís Offensive, Defensive and Resistance skills. Each skill can be increased by to 5 then it is maxed out. The Chosen offers a wide spectrum of choices for you to sculpt your character into the perfect hunter.
Much like Diablo II, the combat system is you standard point and clicker. You click on the ground to move and click to attack your enemies. By clicking the right mouse button you can perform any magic spells that you have set to it.
There are over 200 different weapons, magic items, armor and items to use in The Chosen: Well of Souls. Thatís pretty good for a game that isnít of high caliber like some RPGs Iíve seen. One of the cool things about your weapons is that you can strengthen them with magic and by combining them with other objects that you will never use.
There are several things I like about The Chosen that keep me drawn to it. Usually in RPGs, the townsí people cower in their homes and scream ďPlease Help Us!Ē In The Chosen the actually help you in your quest to rid the evil from the face of the earth. Another cool thing is the day to night cycles. When you look at the box art for this title you get the impression that its night all the time, but that turns out to not be so. The day to night cycles actually affect the behavior of the various creatures throughout your adventure. The load times are actually pretty fast and thatís a definitely a plus.
Perhaps the only thing that I really have a problem with The Chosen is the camera system. Like Diablo II, The Chosen is mainly played from an overview perspective, but there are instance where you must go to a third person view to pick up items or explore. Unfortunately a lot of the time, the scenery gets in the way of the camera view and is sometimes highly annoying. The Chosen is a game where you spend most of your time maneuvering the camera to help you get a better angle on the fights and exploring the world for boxes or barrels to smash.
The Chosen: Well of Souls does allow for multiple character files so several people can play the game without worrying about their file getting overwritten.
The graphics for The Chosen are not fantastic by any means but they are not bad to the point that you cannot distinguish the only female hero from the males. Itís actually quite amusing to watch Elena from an overhead view, as you are constantly staring down her chest. The atmospheric effects are pretty decent, not great, but decent. When you have games out now that are all flash, The Chosen pails in comparison, but itís good to go back to your roots and play a game that isnít technically overpowering to the senses.
The sound in The Chosen is probably its downfall as far as I am concerned. The background music isnít really noticeable, as it is the same tone the entire game. Sure the music goes upbeat a tad when evil is near but not enough to really be noticed after awhile. The voice acting isnít impressive by any means. Just listening to the spoken dialogue is enough to make you laugh at times.
There are about a dozen or so quests in The Chosen, and the story is somewhat deep, but since you are usually teleported to somewhere near where you need to go, it failed to keep my interest peeked at time. There is really no hardcore challenge to The Chosen. The Chosen: Well of Souls retails for $20 dollars, and is a decent Diablo-inspired title. But letís face it. Diablo II was a much better game. If youíre looking for a basic hack and slash RPG without paying an arm and a leg then I would recommend giving The Chosen: Well of Souls a try.
While The Chosen: Well of Souls had its good points, I still found my attention wavering. The controls are easy to pick up on, especially if you have played Diablo II. The story is okay, but weíve all seen this save the world or perish act before. I recommend renting this game if you really want to give it a try.