Pharaonic is an Action/RPG game from Developer Milkstone Studios. The blurb states that is just like Dark Souls regarding difficulty. Set in Ancient Egypt, you play the role of a prisoner set free, to find out the truth about Ahmosis I, The Red Pharaoh. You need to keep your wits about you and be ready for anything. Traps and enemies alike. One thing you will need to be aware of, is the game is unforgiving with regards to combat. Don’t block or parry at the right time, and it will punish you. Swing your weapon around like a madman and use up all your stamina? Again, it will punish you. Checkpoints are not that regular either, so taking your time and planning attacks is essential. Even the simplest of enemy will have you for breakfast. Did Ancient Egyptians have breakfast? Either way, this is not a game for a casual gamer, as you will get frustrated quickly, but that’s not to say they should avoid it. Persevere with it, practice, and learn your combat moves. t will reward those who take the time to learn an excel by letting you advance not only in ranks, but also new equipment an other rewards too.
The game plays in an “on the rails” type of game. It’s 3D world, but you have a limited area to explore. Which in a way isn’t too disappointing, as you will only get enemies in front of, or behind you, instead of from all directions like Dark Souls. Pharaonic is rich in colour, and with an attention to detail that is not often seen at this level of Indie development. The team at Milkstone have done themselves proud here with the end result. The game starts you off with a character creation screen, and whilst it doesn’t have the depth of a game in the ilk of Fallout or Elder Scrolls, it does give you enough to get going quickly enough into the game itself. There is no voice acting either, but keeping costs down to spend more time on the game itself, and create a visually striking gem such as Pharaonic is sometimes a wise move.
You will start of learning the ropes with several rooms easing you in gently before you inevitably get annihilated by slightly more robust enemies. Those with spears will show you what I mean, with their rather long reach. Tackling them is a challenge, but mastering rolls, block and parry, before striking with fast or hard attacks will be your saviour. It is not a hack and slash per se, as you will be destroyed quickly. Patience is your friend here, and traps can be also. Lure them in to a nearby trap and let the trap do the damage, but be careful, as traps will not discriminate and will injure any who are foolish enough to venture to close.
Controls are easy to learn, but hard to master with regards to timing. You will get plenty of chances along the way to practice. Mostly having to reload after being defeated. But if you make it back to your point of death, you can collect your lost XP. However, if you die again before that point, you will lose it. Shrines to pray at will be your respawning point, so keep an eye out for them, as they are not all that popular. So take care in Ancient Egypt. It is not your friend, and don’t be distracted too much by the beautiful world that has been crafted for you to explore.
Musically speaking, the score is a perfect for the setting, and sound effects of the grunts and slashes of your weapons are appropriate for the fight scenes. Nothing to complain about here.
Exploring the world isn’t just limited to what you can see. You can move into the back ground and fore ground. But they are not always entirely obvious. For instance, in the first chapter, you will reach an area where there are stone doors behind you once you venture outside, and at first glance, you may not notice them, but a button prompt will appear on-screen once you are close enough to transfer through to another area. They are part of story progression, but within these halls, are other routes to take where you can find hidden secrets, and other prisoners. Some of who offer advice, whilst others will seek help. Short quests for these prisoners will reward you with artifacts you can use to boost your skills. One prisoner will be invaluable as that is what he will do for you should you bring him what he requires. Helping a fellow prisoner escape or offer help is what we would all do surely.
Inventory management is clean and simple, with no difficulty in finding what you want. Lightweight and Heavyweight weapons and armour at your disposal with differing attributes, allow you to choose the kind of character you want to be. Choose wisely, as both have their pro’s and cons. Fat and weak, or slow and powerful. Maybe a mix would suit you to allow the best of both worlds? Choice is yours. Loot chests, or fallen enemies who leave behind a pouch will supply you with equipment to help your progression. You can sell what you don’t want when you find a vendor, and make some extra gold to buy better gear.
Now onto the down side. Not that much to really say about Pharaonic that is negative thankfully. But the lack of checkpoints is a bane of mine, but given that Dark Souls is a game that I am not good at, nor a massive fan of probably adds to this a little bit. Having to retrace large sections may put a lot of people off. But if you crave a tough game to challenge you, then certainly give Pharaonic a chance. It may just surprise you and draw you in with it’s fluid and seamless combat game play style. Next is a lack of a map. Being able to fully search a place would be ideal, as I love exploration in games, and even though it is not an open world game, you have secondary paths that you can explore for a few secrets here and there.
That is all that I can really say negative about the game, and as for positives? Well, the rest of the package is near enough perfect. The visuals, both in detail and colour are excellent, and very pleasing to the eye. Especially with the Egyptian theme. Music and FX are able to do their job too. All in all, I was surprised that this is an Indie developer’s creation. They have either been blessed with lot of talent from birth and found their calling, or have worked on game before, and for quite a while. Either way, Pharaonic is a beautiful game, and one that fans of rock hard games should give a chance too.
Finally, I would recommend the game to all. At a price of £12.79, you will definitely get your money’s worth from this title, as you will not simply run through it in a few hours, unless you are a gaming god. If you do, I tip my hat in your direction. I believe my score reflects my comments in this review, and again, don’t be put of by the tough difficulty, as once you master the art of combat, you will easily make progress through Pharaonic.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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