Kudos also to Nihilistic for keeping in spirit with the Hyborian legacy. This isn’t Schwarzenegger’s buffoon of a Conan; this is the bestial Cimmerian of Robert E Howard’s original pulp fiction with a smattering of Marvel comics. The one discrepancy was that THQ’s Conan dabbles in magic - a range of spells like turning enemies to stone, sucking them into vortexes or bombarding them with flocks of demon ravens - when Howard’s barbarian regarded the only good sorcerer as a dead one.
Another boon for Conan is its glorious celebration of boss scraps - they’re multilayered epics that’ll frustrate and electrify you in equal measure. Whether it’s leaping from collapsing wooden scaffolding while being assailed by a sand lizard, severing the tusks of an undead elephant god, making calamari out of a giant squid or ramming a giant pike down the throat of the Medusa-like Sorceress Queen, they’re a tour de force of stellar visuals that’ll pop your eyes out their sockets.
Here’s the major downer though; whereas God of War’s near-perfect pacing interspersed its terrific scrapping with brain-bending puzzling and some genuine Prince of Persia-topping platforming, Conan sticks almost exclusively to the fighting. Okay, so there’s the odd concession but it’s mostly a case of simplistic lever-pulling or the odd jumpy-jumpy section (which, thanks to some iffy collision detection, frequently sent us into rage mode).
To truly hit the heights, Nihilistic needed to push the envelope here, but it’s way too underplayed and unsatisfying. Bashing buttons to watch Conan scamper up a rockface like a backward gibbon does not a good platformer make. Even the odd bit of variation - such as having to direct a ballista, crank the bolt and sink an enemy fleet - comes across as tacked-on.
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