When we first learned about "Rise of the Argonauts" last year, many of the exciting ideas had yet to be implemented into the gameplay. This month, we checked out a more complete version of the game that revealed the many ways in which the title aims to stand apart from the crowd.
The idea that the narrative should tie together with the gameplay in a meaningful way runs throughout almost every mechanic in the game. For instance, the weapons that hero Jason wields won't be random swords and spears picked up off the ground. Instead, they are story-relevant plot trophies that have specific strengths and abilities tied to them.
The narrative focus carries over into character leveling. Throughout the story, Jason will dedicate his heroic deeds to one of four patron gods: Apollo, Athena, Ares, or Hermes. By killing a mighty mythical beast or saving a beset citizen, it counts as a deed that can be used to improve your standing with a particular god, rather than the traditional method of gaining experience points. Each deity will gift a devoted believer with particular special abilities. Likewise, the involved conversation system has a direct effect on character growth and advancement, since each conversation choice is tied to one of the four gods. If you always choose the violent and straightforward conversation style encouraged by Ares, he will reward you with more favor to buy skills.
The real-time combat system aims to deliver the sort of dynamic interactions normally reserved for action-focused games. Through the interplay of mace, spear, sword and shield combat, Jason's battle options focus on exacting hit detection and procedural animations. The result is a combat system that delivers over-the-top clashes and lethal one-hit kills, where weapons bounce off of shields or slip past armor when carefully timed. It shouldn't be long before we can get our hands on the game and see how much the system manages to deliver on those hopes.
"Rise of the Argonauts" is a bright and colorful re-imagining of Greek mythology, where heroes like Hercules, Pan, Achilles and Atalanta accompany you on an ocean-spanning quest. When we first saw the game, the team was enthusiastic about a cooperative component to the game, but when asked this time they remained noticeably silent on the point. Whether it ends up delivering some form of multiplayer or not, the game is definitely one to watch as we head into the second half of the year.