Hunted: The Demon's Forge
seeks to deliver a fantasy world steeped in grime and filth. It's not exactly a novel approach to setting; in fact, this style has seen a spike in popularity over the years with BioWare's Dragon Age
series, CD Projekt's The Witcher
series, and HBO's remarkably faithful television adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
saga. Unlike the aforementioned staples, the world of Hunted
struggles to establish an identity for itself. The visuals are partly to blame. This game's art style takes the notion of dark fantasy and runs with it for far too long, resulting in an overabundance of boggy marshes and craggy dungeons. Perhaps this is developer inXile's attempt at creating a more believable and down-to-earth world, but ultimately, the game suffers for it. This is compounded by the game's many technical problems. None of the animation work is consistent; nearly every living thing in Hunted
encounters an immersion-dissolving kinetic hiccup at least once over the course of a playthrough. The characters look okay, if bland and unoriginal. Caddoc is your stock burly hero, while the heavily-tattooed E'lara is your everyday sexy elven huntress. More interesting is the spectral form of the mysterious Seraphine, whose ghostly appearance looks like the subject of a photo negative.
Hunted sounds better than it looks, but that's not enough to save it from the mediocrity the rest of the game settles for. The voice acting is most notable primarily because Lucy Lawless (yes, Xena herself) voices Seraphine. Seraphine isn't a playable character, but Lawless' delivery perfectly fits the character of an otherworldly temptress. Caddoc and E'lara are well-acted, as well, though they aren't given the best material to work with. For example, E'lara nitpicks when someone fails to recognize that she's an elf, but upon hearing the roar of a monster, she quips "That doesn't sound human." Things aren't always great in Caddoc's side of the camp, either; his fear of arachnids is easily as pronounced (though not as comical) as Ron Weasley's. Most of the time, however, you get to hear the two play the "tally your kills, brag about it" game made immortal by The Lord of the Rings. Though there's hardly any spark to the dialogue, the characters aren't painful to listen to. The high point is the soundtrack, which is rich with menace and foreboding.