Published on July 2nd, 2019 | by Michael Newman0
There have been a lot of Warhammer games released over the past year or so. Everything from managing spaceships, to Real-Time Strategy, to Tactical Combat based games have been represented between the Warhammer and the Warhammer 40,000 universe. EKO Software and Bigben decided to add the action-RPG to the mix with their fun to play Diablo clone Warhammer: Chaosbane.
Much like the games that it takes inspiration from, you have the opportunity to pick one of four characters to battle the Lords of Chaos and bring order to the land. Your standard archetype characters are all here in standard Warhammer Fantasy. The Dwarven “Slayer” class, for those who like a barbarian class to rage havoc upon his foes, The High-Elf Mage who utilizes his magic to bring down the forces of chaos, the ho-hum Imperial Soldier who can take and deal out a huge amount of damage, and the Wood Elf who uses her bow and dagger to deal damage at a frighteningly fast pace.
Each of the characters have their own unique secondary ability that allows them to gain a strategic advantage on their foes. The Slayer can vault himself into enemies (much like the Barbarian class in Diablo), The Mage can control magical projectiles towards his targets, the Imperial soldier can shield bash targets and the Wood Elf can tumble in and out of danger. I played through the vast majority of the game as the Wood Elf and learning to use her tumble ability and stay mobile is some of the best ways to beat the bosses that you will come across.
One area where Warhammer: Chaosbane improves on the standard Diablo formula is how it handles health and energy/mana. Various items you equip can provide health regeneration on their own or you also possess the ability to use a “health Potion” that refills slowly each time you use it. Thankfully this means you don’t have individual health potions cluttering up your inventory. Mana/Energy is used for special attacks and actions…each time you use a skill some of your Mana/Energy is used. There are a few ways you can recoup your energy. The first is to use your general attacks on creatures, as you successfully hit each one your energy fills a little until it tops the meter off. The other way is to reach out to your familiar who follows you around the screen. My familiar was a butterfly that I could run over to when I’d run low on energy and it would fill my meter about half way. When you utilize your familiar in this way they must also recharge, so use them wisely.
One of the more unique items that you acquire as you slice your way through the hordes of demons and undead are Blood Orbs. Blood Orbs appear on the battlefield seemingly at random (although the more enemies you cut down the more likely they are to appear). As you acquire these orbs it fills a Blood lust meter and when full imbues your character with incredible power and near invincibility until the meter runs out. The Orbs don’t stay on the battlefield forever however, and they slowly lose power the longer you wait to gather them, so it encourages you to step out of the battle (or in my case roll out of the battle) to gather them as quickly as you can. As you progress your character you’ll be given the chance to upgrade these as well which essentially allows you to fill multiple meters and grants you this special power for longer lengths of time.
Skills are broken down into various types which allow you to outfit your character to best suit your play style. There are literally dozens of both active and passive skills to choose from, and each of these skills can be upgraded as well for improved effects or damage. As the Wood Elf Elessa, I was able to summon dryads to my side to help me deal with the hordes of enemies. In edition there are also God Skills that you acquire as you level up and complete missions. These special skills unlock more powerful abilities but also unlock traits as you apply the points. Traits such as health regeneration or critical hit chances are only some of the ones that you can unlock along the God Skill tree that give you a sense that your character is becoming more unstoppable with every skill acquired.
Unfortunately, the inconsistent voice acting is what relegates Chaosbane to being good instead of great. I made the mistake of choosing the character with the worst voice acting in the bunch and if I had played through with another character I may not have noticed how truly terrible it was. Elessa delivers her lines in an almost wooden (pun intended) manner, almost as if reading directly from a script. This gets even more noticeable when on occasion her voice changes to that of a man. The developers and testers did a good job of catching most of them, but there were at least five or six dialog trees where Elessa’s voice changed completely. I have two theories on this, my first theory (although I hadn’t confirmed this) is that the character was originally meant to be portrayed as a man and was changed to add a bit more diversity to the line-up. Not that there is anything wrong with having the main characters all be male, but it certainly could have limited the appeal of the audience. My second theory is that some of the dialog was simply place holders while they were sourcing out the right voice actors and simply missed replacing the audio bytes.
Either way, Elessa isn’t the only place where the voice acting takes a turn for the worst, other characters suffer from this fate as well. While the Warhammer games have always used bravado to deliver their dialog, it is simply too over the top in most cases. The first boss I encountered sounded like Cobra Commander who had just walked off the set of the latest GI Joe Cartoon to lead the forces of Chaos…Yo Joe! The fact that the game is voice acted entirely is something that I do applaud the developers for insisting on, it’s just disappointing that you find yourself reading through the dialog as quickly as possible and skipping the voices whenever you can.
Even with its flaws Warhammer: Chaosbane is a fun Diablo clone and an absolute blast to play. The story is forgettable, the voices laughable, but the combat scratches the same itch that any other action roleplaying game provides. There’s plenty of loot to acquire, that ranges from common to rare, and your ability to “bless” items to make them more powerful is an added bonus. There are a whopping ten levels of difficulty, each level provides for a more difficult adventure with the promise of even better loot. With both couch co-op and online multiplayer, it even harkened me back to the days of playing the original Gauntlet in the arcades. If you like the Warhammer universe and are looking for a game you can pick up and play with relative ease, then Warhammer: Chaosbane is just the game you are looking for.
What I liked: Fun combat, Amazing selection of skills, Plays equally well with keyboard/mouse or controller
What I liked less: Terrible voice acting, Repetitive loot drops, Forgettable story
4 out of 5 stars