You know, we’re sure there must be a decent RPG buried in here somewhere. We think it’s at the bottom, underneath these socks, the incredibly ropey engine, some old school reports, and the amusingly broken dialogue. Hold this useless mini-map for us, and we’ll move the absolutely terrible horse riding to one side. There it is. Can you see it, poking out between the confused voice acting and needlessly fixed camera angle?
The game’s ambition deserves respect. The story, somewhat usurped by Assassin’s Creed, follows a spy in a traditional medieval fantasy fiction world who gains access to futuristic technology, thus becoming a bit like a god to the locals. With its reasonably fresh idea, and the pleasingly esoteric title, we really wanted to forgive HtbaG its amateurish presentation.
But try as we might, it’s just rubbish. The storytelling is a mess from the beginning. No hint of the larger story is given, no introduction, just the hoariest of RPG quests. Kill the bandits, find the cows, negotiate with the thieves. OK, find the cows is a bit original, but it might as well have been ‘find the missing daughter’ (that comes in a couple of hours, don’t worry). The first hint of the future-o-story comes when suddenly, mid-conversation with someone, you’re in a nondescript location where a man talks complete gibberish at you, before you’re dumped back to where you started.
The difficulty is completely out of whack, with supposedly level-one beasts able to slaughter you before you’ve been able to rotate the appalling camera to find out what hidden thing has rushed at you from the woods. This, and indeed any battle, can be won by standing on a single step, at which point you’re magically invisible to all enemies. Shoot them with arrows, laugh. Oh, and fighting on horseback is like trying to cut someone’s hair while wearing rocket-powered roller skates. When a game makes you alternate between screaming and laughing out loud at its faults, the rewards aren’t worth the struggle.
Apr 18, 2008