Level: Prologue
Level: The Wilds
Level: The Walls

Prologue

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Dark Tunnels

Two paths lead out of the room:  one obvious, one hidden.  The hidden path opens into tunnels completely devoid of light.

Caddoc, unafraid, picks up a torch and lights it on a brazier.  He and E'lara use its light to navigate into the dark, hoping that their expectation of finding riches comes true.

Either path leads to the same destination:  a crypt split in two by some long-past cataclysm.  Caddoc and E'lara see no way across to the exit, but notice that a massive statue in the center of the room is held up by ropes like the ones they snapped with arrows back at the beginning of the level.

As they cut loose the ropes and Caddoc pushes on the statue to topple it against a cracked section of wall, the massive demon which appeared in Caddoc's dreams in the opening cinematic appears!

Caddoc redoubles his efforts and succeeds in dropping the statue and the two heroes run through the opening it created just in time for the demon's attack to bring down the wall section behind them, trapping the monster in the crypt!


 
Intent

After the fight, the observant player may realize that one of the statues along the walls is unlike the others and push it open to reveal a secret passageway.

Within, the player can experience one final new mechanic;  just inside, the player can pick up and light a torch which is terrible as a melee weapon but can light a path through the completely-dark corridors beyond.  These tunnels hide a few bags of gold, skeletons, and a pretty unique-looking cavern of travertine springs with an upgrade crystal.



On the road to greatness

As the heroes catch their breath, Seraphine appears and admits to her mistake:  apparently Caddoc and not E'lara was supposed to pick up the Death Stone—in doing so, the theft would not have been discovered nearly so quickly.

Still, the pair have escaped the first of many dangers and still have the Stone.  Seraphine reveals another of its powers, the ability to use magical crystals to enhance many of Caddoc and E'lara's existing combat skills.

Furthermore, she sets them a new goal:  travel to the besieged city of Dyfed and locate "her father," the mayor.  (It will be revealed in a later level that this is a lie... the mayor's real daughter had been kidnapped, but seeking her out will put the two heroes and the Death Stone where Seraphine intends them to go.)


 
Final Analysis

There are a ton of mechanics to introduce players to during this level... some potentially familiar, others entirely unique to Hunted.  There's also a significant amount of plot and character development needed to set the characters on their journey and ensure that players find them engaging and believable.

Some of the weakest elements couldn't be helped, and will be repeated (by necessity) throughout the game:  the abundance of gating mechanisms, the inexplicable existence of obvious "crystal chests," and the puzzle hints of varying quality.  Some other elements are unique to the Prologue, like the need for "because it just works that way" logic surrounding some of the game's plot elements.  (For example, why do the characters apparently abandon their original goal of bringing Mana Water to a wealthy wizard client?)

In the "pro" column for the level, the journey passes through a good variety of engaging environment types in a small period of time.  The pace of the story is quick (befitting the opening chapter of an adventure) and some exciting events take place.  Some of the tutorial elements (the text boxes, the elements placed squarely in the path of the player so he can't progress without encountering them, etc.) could be more elegant, but we did whatever we could to ensure that a player can pass each tutorial bit as quickly as he can demonstrate that he understands it.

The combat layouts are simple, but diverse, and the enemies encountered do what the best "fodder" early in a combat game does—they "pop" like delicious popcorn and present just enough of a challenge to keep a player from turning his brain off entirely.

It feels like a representative level of Hunted even though it's too early to present much challenge and is dense with tutorial elements.  It's a fun little step on Caddoc and E'lara's journey to see and save their world!



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