By – Jarrett Riddle

Antharion Review He

Ah, the role playing games of olde. When character customization meant more than just choosing a pre-made class and relying on the player’s own skill and reflexes to succeed. Antharion from Orphic Software aims to take us back to these days. And with a large nonlinear world, team-based gameplay, and skills that matter, it looks to be just what the old-school doctor ordered. But in this modern age where shiny graphics, huge resolutions, and instant gratification usually take the spotlight, does Antharion have what it takes to make a name for itself?

First, four characters must be created to make up your adventuring party. Classes are available for choosing, but you can create a custom one as well. This is useful for fine-tuning the various attributes and skills to make an out-of-the-ordinary team. Prior knowledge of the effectiveness of skills and how often they’ll be used throughout the game is useful here, but a little guesswork never killed anybody. Besides, all the skills are pretty useful, from lock picking to persuasion, so the only real limitation for creating a party is your own imagination.

Speaking of skills, Antharion has some interesting choices that deviate from the standard RPG fare. For starters, most anyone well-versed in medieval settings is familiar with white and black magics, which are used for defensive and offensive spells, respectively. A new type, gray, is available here. The best explanation for gray magic is probably that it allows for usage of utility spells. And when I say utility, I mean doing awesome things like turning enemies into pigs and teleporting yourself. The lore skill allows you to decipher writing on walls, which then leads to secret passages being revealed. This is useful for finding extra loot within dungeons. There’s also the barter skill, which is an actual, honest-to-goodness worthwhile investment of points. I can probably count the amount of RPGs in history where a trading skill actually mattered on one hand.

Antharion Review 4

The world of Antharion, engaged in civil war for thousands of years, has finally calmed down. Everyone is now enjoying a time of peace and prosperity.. but not for long! The village of Shadowbrook, where your team of ragtag adventurers has been imprisoned beneath the well, has been attacked. Actually, “attacked” may not be a suitable word. “Massacred” is more like it. It seems this new, docile age has invited in all manner of bloodthirsty killers and monsters. It sure seems like the poor people of Antharion just can’t win no matter what they do.

Any expectations you may have for this game from just glancing at a random screenshot may be blown away very early on in the story, as a slide in the introduction shows the gruesome aftermath of the slaughtered village. This is seen again after breaking out of your underground prison; Wandering around town and entering houses, the death toll of Shadowbrook makes itself apparent. Decaying remnants of the town’s citizens lay across cult symbols, their blood splattered against the walls and furniture. No, this is definitely not the bubbly, squeaky-clean experience you may have predicted.

Best keep to the roads early on in this dangerous territory, as monsters a-plenty are lurking in the wilderness that won’t hesitate to make you their next meal. Thankfully, experience can be earned by completing story tasks, side quests, or diving headlong bravely (or stupidly) into caves and hostile areas. A unique aspect of experience is that the whole team shares one bar, and thus everyone levels up together once enough experience is gained.

Antharion Review 1

Fortunately, there is no permadeath in Antharion. When team members are knocked out in a fight, they’re instantly revived once the battle is over. This alleviates a lot of trial and error, save and reload tactics one often sees in this type of game. The team-wide experience bar comes in handy here as well; there’s no need for members who are killed often to play catch up with those that stay alive longer. All of this boils down to strategic, turn-based battles that allow for multiple play styles while keeping frustration and tedious grinding to a minimum.

At first glance, Antharion looks.. well, it looks like.. alright, I’ll just come out and say it: The graphics are pretty similar to a mobile game’s. You know what, though? Despite this, I would never say any element looks bad. Quite the contrary; both the environment and characters have a clean, easy to see aesthetic. There’s a day/night cycle as well that makes locations look much different depending on what time of day it is. Sprites among people and creatures are varied, and deaths come with a satisfying blood-splattering effect. Equipment shows up on characters when equipped as well, which is always a nice, though rarely seen, detail. One thing of note, however, is that in keeping with traditonal roguelike manner, there are no animations while running, and combat sprite variations are limited at best.

Graphic options may disappoint some, as there are scant few resolutions. Also, the maximum resolution available is only 1280×720. Other settings include a general detail selection, fullscreen/windowed mode, and vsync. What I’m trying to get at here is that if you’re the kind of person who is interested in games of this type, you’re likely not going to be playing it for its photo-realistic graphics. Still though, just keep in mind when starting the game that judging a book by its cover is usually not a wise action.

Antharion Review 3

Besides, who really cares about the graphics when the music is so good? Antharion features some amazing orchestral scores that play occasionally as you explore and fight. Aside from combat, the background medleys are probably the best thing this game has going for it. Sound effects fit nicely too, from the splat of a defeated owl bear to the footsteps of your party, the latter actually having a separate volume slider from the music and general sound effects. An ambient sounds volume setting is present as well. So while the ambient tunes are superb, I like to crank up the ambient noises to really get immersed.

Having clickable buttons and hotkeys for every action gives you total freedom to play the game however you want. Holding the left mouse button will make the party move in the direction of the cursor, or you can press certain keys to run. The only thing truly lacking in the controls department is the ability to set the hotkeys. As it is, you have to use the presets if the keyboard is your input method of choice.

Antharion runs surprisingly smooth, too. In a game with so many complex systems of combat, looting, and questing, I haven’t run into any bugs. There some typos here and there, but the game can be quite dialogue heavy at times so it’s understandable that some mistakes may have been looked over. It doesn’t matter anyway, as Orphic Software have been absolutely wonderful with updating the game and fixing even the small nitpicks.

Antharion Review 2

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

A unique story, great setting, and downright fun gameplay help 3.7 GHzovercome its graphical obstacles. Partner this with a fantastic soundtrack, unique skills that play heavy roles in progression, and tough but fair battles and you’ve got one heck of a game on your hands. I urge you to please buy this game so that more developers will be encouraged to make lengthy, quality RPGs like this one in the future.

Antharion Technical Summary:

Antharion Review 4

  • Time Played – 12 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – No
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1280×720
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • DRM – Steam, None if purchased via the official site
  • System Specs – 3.7 GHz AMD A10-6700, 768MB Radeon 8670D, 8GB RAM
  • Control Scheme – M/KB
  • Saved Game Location – SteamApps\common\AntharioN\Data
  • Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Official Site, Steam
  • Demo – No
468 ad