Things get a little grey in our preview of The Dark Eye - Demonicon

20 years ago the demigod Borbarad covered East Aventuria with the undead, and malevolent forces crawled their way to the damned province, today East Aventuria still lies in ruin, and the only free city in the aptly named Shadowlands not ruled by demons is the city of Warunk, however the term free is quite loose, if you can get into the city walls good on you, but if not you won’t want to hang around too long; famine and plague rule the streets, and starved refugees litter outside of the city, to make things even more interesting the city itself is built upon Moloch Mountain which has more than its fair share of magical nasties inhabiting its dark and mysterious tunnel system, to think all you wanted was a safe haven inside the city, well you get far more than you bargained for!

In The Dark Eye - Demonicon you assume the role of the young warrior Cairon, whose sister Calandra has recently been arranged to marry the affluent Rhondrian Falk, so that their family may become citizens in the city of Warunk. The two have always had somewhat of a special bond, perhaps a bit too close for brother and sister, in fact from an early age the two were told to never mix their blood, bit of a strange request right? Unfortunately after a large battle with the undead in the tunnels of Moloch Mountain the exchange takes place as Cairon tends to her wounds, and something awakens in the two of them, they are unsure what the true consequence is, but Cairon is gifted with the ability to cast magic.

The Dark Eye - Demonicon locations

The Dark Eye – Demonicon is a third-person action-RPG full of real-time action-packed battles where your timing really matters, and tactics play an important role if you wish to take down your enemies with ruthless efficiency. At its heart Demonicon is a roleplaying game through-and-through; story is held in the highest regard, and you can choose to sculpt Cairon into the character you want him to be, train yourself up in the various talents to help aid you through the game and perform dark magic on your foes.

When we previewed the game at E3 two years ago, what really attracted us to the game was its darn right difficult choices, in Demonicon there is no clear black and white choice, there is no good or evil, only a murky grey full of unknown consequence. We got to experience a few choices first hand including the difficult decision of letting a murderous cannibal live for the sake of the seven trapped in his dungeon, or kill him, initiating a slow and painful death for those he has trapped, but ensuring that no one else is eaten again, they aren't easy decisions, and each has their own good and bad points, something that most mortal choice games are sorely lacking.

A similarly difficult, though far more relaxed decision you will make later on is in regards to the ownership of a brothel in the city of Warunk, the deeds can be given to the shady Kreutzer Cartel or to the City Guard; under the Cartel the girls will be mistreated and dark necromancy practice's will continue, but under the Guard they will not get as much business, either way the brothel will suffer, but the way that they do, is entirely up to you.

The Dark Eye - Demonicon combat

However the most striking feature of Demonicon is the games' impeccable battle system, for those with a penchant for time based combos, you will feel right at home in Demonicon, and if you can master the pacing for the weapon in hand you'll find a single battle against six or so enemies can be chained perfectly, right down to your parries, evades and counters, combat has not been so satisfying since Phantasy Star Online, or Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Coming from a very traditional pen and paper roleplaying, Cairon has four main attributes that will in turn affect two secondary skills passively; Strength, Agility, Constitution and Courage, these can all be improved for a sizeable chunk of AP that controls most of Cairon's customisable features in the game, it is gained by carrying out numerous actions throughout Demonicon, AP can also be spent on a number of different offensive and defensive combat moves that can often get you out of a spot of trouble and help to keep that all-important chain going.

Another interesting area of Cairon's character development alongside the basic attributes is his numerous talents such as plantlore, blacksmithing, or medicine, each have practical uses but can also be called upon in conversation to create a different outcome to a quest. For those that like a good bit of storytelling, the most interesting of all the talents is not a particularly practical one: the talent of Legend Lore allows you to learn more about the magnificent universe around you as well as important facts on the characters and boss fights you will encounter, its use is not imperative to your progression, but is great for the explorative gamers among you.

The Dark Eye - Demonicon dialogue

With Cairon's magical 'gift' comes the opportunity to learn four different spell disciplines; ice, poison, telekinesis -of sorts- and demonic advantages such as increased strength and speed, contrary to the rest of your skills and attributes, your spells are unlocked with GP that is obtained as you play through the story, and each spell branch contains four stages. The mysterious gift of blood magic is extremely helpful in combat, and whilst you can have a whale of a time carefully timing your attacks, some of your more magically enhanced foes will require the use of your 'gift' to knock them down a peg or two.

Demonicon is set in the fabulous roleplaying universe of The Dark Eye, a setting that of recent has literally exploded onto the gaming market, which is great for current fans of the universe, however it's very different to the other games on offer; not only is it the first game to take place in the dangerous Shadowlands, but it is the first action-orientated combat game in a universe that is generally conveyed with turn based action. Worry not though, because even if you have never heard of The Dark Eye before, fans of the fantasy genre will also be intrigued to find that the game takes a very mature and dark turn for the usual fantasy setting in a world that will suck anyone in.

Fans of the Dark Eye universe, your combat orientated game is here, The Dark Eye - Demonicon is the dark morally ambiguous fantasy that many have been waiting for, and we can only hope that through our travels with Cairon and Calandra a dark and twisted world will change due to our choices.

The Dark Eye - Demonicon is scheduled for a release October 25th on Windows PC, with a 2014 release for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.