It’s magic, you know?
Everyone deserves a second chance, well at least in some circles. In gaming, that is another story. Lichdom: Battlemage is already an old game by today’s standards. It was released in 2014 on PC to mixed reviews, then it came to PS4 and Xbox One back in April of this year. At the time of release it was panned for its poor performance, which was truly a sight to behold. Awful frame rates plagued the console releases, even as someone who normally isn’t bothered by these issues, it was bad.
Well the developers took that criticism to heart, and have spent the last few months working on a patch to fix the frame rate. Lichdom: Battlemage now runs significantly better (at least on Xbox One, which is where we tested it for this review,) but the real question is, is it too late?
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Outside of all the frame rate controversy, Lichdom: Battlemage is actually a very interesting game. It takes place from a first-person perspective, but instead of bullets, players are hurling fireballs and ice beams at enemies. Yes it is an FPM (first-person magic, I just made that up) and yes, the first thing I wanted to compare it to was Heretic; boy am I old.
The story revolves around a normal person gaining access to these magic bracers. Once equipped, they give the player endless mana to cast magic at enemies. It starts off with the fireball, and over the course of the game eight different abilities can be obtained.
There is no mana in the game, so players can lob off fireballs as fast as they can press the button. The spells can also be charged for critical attacks. There is a very generous auto-aim that also homes in attacks on enemies. It all feels great and extremely empowering.
Sadly this is kind of where the excitement ends. The game does an extremely poor job of explaining the more complex systems in place. There is a crafting component that changes the attack properties of spells. It took me a long time to grasp exactly how it worked. Also it is worth noting that some of the spells don’t actually kill enemies, and require some combos which inherently feel useless when something like the fireball can just take down enemies. The combat feels one dimensional early on, and while there is a nice array of spells, most of them feels useless in the grand scheme.
With the frame rate issues mostly fixed, I was also finally able to enjoy the unique art style of the game. It is worth noting though that it is extremely dark, and there is no brightness adjustment to be found within the game. So caves and such were almost pitch black, which is sad as the art direction in the game is pretty great when I could actually see it.
Lichdom: Battlemage has a bumpy past. The PC version came and went without making a dent. The console launch was poorly handled and marred by technical issues. Now the game is finally at a solid place to be discovered, but sadly most have moved on. There is no excuse for launching the game the way it was in April, and most gamers have already forgotten about the title entirely. But for those that may stumble upon it on sale somewhere, feel good in knowing that you are picking up a solid, and unique title, that is finally worthy of sitting on a retail shelf.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.